Monday's Catch Up & Links 3/7

Monday, March 7, 2016
Kevin Sundher (left), Tim Brent (middle) and Mark Alt (right) all skated in regular jerseys at practice in Whitehall today. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
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The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-28-2-3) are starting to get some healthy bodies back. Today in Whitehall, both injured forwards Kevin Sunder (lower body since November 27th) and Tim Brent (hand/wrist surgery - out since January 17th) and defenseman Mark Alt, who left Friday's game with an undisclosed ailment, were all full participants in practice this morning.

But is it too little, too late? With 16 games left, the Phantoms trail the final playoff spot by nine points and that team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, have a game in hand on Lehigh Valley. The Portland Pirates are only seven points ahead of the Phantoms, but they too have games in hand on Lehigh Valley to the tune of three less games played. Providence is pulling away from Lehigh Valley in the standings, currently ahead by 10 points with two games in hand.

The Phantoms began their five-game road trip last weekend in Binghamton with another loss. It doesn't get any easier this week as they travel to Wilkes-Barre Wednesday to take on the Penguins and to Hartford Saturday for a mid-afternoon matinee at the XL Center against the Wolf Pack. Head coach Scott Gordon said it best, his team has dug themselves in a hole.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (27-28-2-3)

Last Week

Wednesday 3/2, Lehigh Valley - 3 at Syracuse - 2 (SO)

It wasn't pretty, but much like Sunday's nail biter in Hartford the Lehigh Valley Phantoms pulled away from the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York with two points.

Anthony Stolarz stole the show and the game for Lehigh Valley, stopping 51 of the 53 shots he faced in regulation and overtime and capped it off by stopping all three Syracuse Crunch shooters in the shootout to preserve the 3-2 win and the extra point in the standings.

Danick Martel tallied his 20th goal of the season to give the Phantoms a 1-0 lead and Cole Bardreau put his team ahead 2-1 with 10:30 left in regulation, but Syracuse forced overtime with an extra attacker goal with 21.9 seconds left on the clock.

Friday 3/4. W-B/Scranton - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 0

Despite largely out-chancing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and throwing 36 shots on net, the Phantoms were shutout by their Atlantic Division rival for the third time this season in a disappointing 3-0 loss.

Strong goaltending from Tristan Jarry (36 saves) frustrated the Phantoms all night, while some inopportune bounces went the Penguins' way and helped them to a lead they would never surrender. At this time of the season, all it takes is a few mistakes or bounces to make the difference in a game.

The Phantoms dominated play in the first period only to have a bad bounce behind their net with Stolarz back to play the puck end up in their net. The back-breaker was the Pens' second goal with 15.7 seconds left after Lehigh Valley had three consecutive Grade-A chances in a matter of seconds stopped by Jarry.

Saturday 3/5, Lehigh Valley - 1 at Binghamton - 3

The Phantoms fired 71 shots on net in two games this weekend, but were only rewarded with one goal. Sunday in Binghamton, the Phantoms fell behind early despite a similarly strong effort as compared to last night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The theme of the weekend, and the season for that matter, has been a multitude of prime scoring chances for that have gone unrewarded and mistakes at inopportune time that proved costly. At this time of the season, it's commonplace.

Mark Fraser and former Phantom Jason Akeson gave the BSens a 2-0 lead on early period goals in both the first and second frames. Petr Straka tallied the Phantoms' lone goal to break a personal 14-game goalless drought in the second period to cut the deficit to 2-1, only to have Max McCormick put the proverbial dagger in the side of Lehigh Valley with 8:28 left in regulation after a dominant start to the final frame by the Phantoms.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday 3/9, Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton  - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday 3/12. Lehigh Valley at Hartford - 3:00 p.m. ET


  • Goaltender Anthony Stolarz has started 10 straight games for Lehigh Valley. Jason LaBarbera is nearing a return to the lineup and Martin Ouellette has been reassigned to Reading.
  • Defenseman Mark Alt practiced today in a regular jersey after missing Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury suffered in Friday night's game.
  • Forwards Kevin Sundher (lower body since 11/27) and Tim Brent (upper body since 1/17) also practiced in regular jerseys Monday in Whitehall. 

Weekly Links


Last week at The Home News, my weekly Phantoms print piece looked at the trade deadline passing by without any trades and Lehigh Valley's need to continue pushing toward the postseason.

Over the weekend, I took a look at the Atlantic Division playoff picture in Saturday's Morning Skate (3/5).

In case you missed it on Thursday, my monthly prospect report on the Flyers prospects playing in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Hockey's Future

My feature on Toronto Maple Leafs forward prospect Josh Leivo, with opportunity knocking on the door after his latest recall from the AHL's Toronto Marlies.

My monthly notebook article takes a look at the AHL's Eastern Conference's playoff picture with only seven weeks left in the regular season. Atlantic Division thoroughly discussed.

My prospect feature on Florida Panthers rookie defenseman Michael Matheson, who is focusing on consistency in his first pro season.

The Providence Bruins are firing on all cylinders heading down the stretch, led byBoston Bruins forward prospect Seth Griffith.


Tim Riday's weekly Future Flyers Report, which takes a look at Ivan Provorov and other prospects in the organization.

Dave Isaac of the Courier Post has this story leading up to tonight's Flyers match up against Tampa Bay on how Jake Voracek's prediction about the Flyers' playoff chances rests on them taking 10 out of 12 points on their current home stand.

Bill Meltzer, Flyers reporter for, previews tonight's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Patrick Williams, who covers the AHL for, has launched his AHL-focused website Expanding the coverage of the AHL on a league-wide perspective is definitely something worth keeping an eye on. Here's his latest story on the top ten AHL teams.

My AHL colleague Sean Shapiro, who covers the Western Conference for Hockey's Future in addition to the Texas Stars at, recapped the AHL movement as today's deadline to trade or loan AHL deals or loan NHL contracts between minor league teams passed.


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