Monday's Catch Up & Links 4/4

Monday, April 4, 2016
Nicolas Aube-Kubel may also be Lehigh Valley bound. Photo: Nina Weiss/The Home News
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms may have been mathematically eliminated from the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs - extending the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate's playoff drought to seven years - but there is a newly found buzz emanating from the team as they prepare for the final two weeks of the 2015-16 regular season.

Some of the organization's top prospects are on their way to Lehigh Valley, including highly-regarded defenseman Travis Sanheim (1st round draft pick - 2014), forward Radel Fazleev (6th round - 2014) and possibly forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2nd round - 2014). All three players were eliminated from their respective Canadian major junior hockey league playoffs over the weekend.

All three are also AHL-eligible to play with the Phantoms next fall - perhaps a chance for an early audition for next season. Adding those players into the mix, along with newcomers Oskar Lindblom and Reece Willcox, gives the Phantoms plenty of prospects to gain a valuable first look at pro hockey before heading into the summer.

The Phantoms have six games left on their schedule, with a pair of three-game weekends approaching before the season finale on Sunday, April 17th. It's not out of the realm of possibilities that Sanheim could make his pro debut Friday night when the Phantoms hit the road to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

I have been providing exclusive coverage of the prospects coming into Lehigh Valley thus far, with features on both Willcox and Lindblom. Be sure to check back regularly for more insightful features on incoming prospects in the Flyers organization.

Monday's weekly catch up & links traditional format after the jump, loaded with plenty of features on prospects on the Phantoms and around the AHL. 

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-32-4-3)

Last Week

Friday 4/1, Lehigh Valley - 4 at St. John's - 1

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms made it three wins in a row with an impressive 4-1 victory over the St. John's IceCaps Friday night at the Mile One Centre in Newfoundland, Canada.

After a scoreless first period, the Phantoms jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the middle frame on goals by Taylor Leier and Adam Comrie and never looked back. Robert Hagg gave the Phantoms a 3-1 lead in the third period before Reading Pa native Steven Swavely tallied his first career pro goal on a shorthanded empty net goal with 1:32 left in regulation to complete the 4-1 win.

Martin Ouellette won his third game in a row and was on his game again, stopping all but one of the 28 shots he faced.

Saturday 4/2, Lehigh Valley - 4 at St. John's - 0

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms put forth another strong effort in St. John's Saturday night to sweep the weekend series with a 4-0 win over the St. John's IceCaps at the Mile One Centre.

It was both the Lehigh Valley and Martin Ouellette's fourth straight win as the Phantoms netminder posted his first career AHL shutout in what was largely a night of first for many Phantoms' players.

Reece Willcox opened the scoring midway through the 1st frame, tallying his first career pro goal in just his second game. Oskar Lindblom picked up his 1st career AHL assist in his second game, getting an apple on Tim Brent's 8th of the season to give Lehigh Valley an early 2-0 lead that the Phantoms never looked back on behind the strong performance from Ouellette in net.

The Week Ahead

Friday 4/8, Lehigh Valley at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Saturday 4/9. Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Sunday 4/10, Lehigh Valley at Bridgeport - 5:00 p.m. ET

  • Goaltender Martin Ouellette is making the most of his current opportunity with the Phantoms. In his last four starts, Ouellette is 4-0-0 with a 1.26 goals-against average, a .962 save percentage and one shutout - his first career AHL shutout.
  • Defenseman Reece Willcox made his pro debut over the weekend, and in his second AHL game he tallied his first career pro goal in the Phantoms' 4-0 win over St. John's.
  • Forward Oksar Lindblom also made his North American pro debut over the weekend, playing the left wing on a line with Chris Conner and Tim Brent. He had some chances Friday night, and picked up his first career AHL point with an assist on Brent's first period goal Saturday.
  • Reading, Pa native Steven Swavely joined the Phantoms in March, but over the weekend he also tallied his first career pro goal with a shorthanded empty net goal from about 180 feet away.
Weekly Links


Last week at The Home News, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms restored some confidence in their game by ending an eight-game winless skid with back-to-back wins. Stay tuned for this week's story.

The biggest news entering the week is that one of the Philadelphia Flyers' top prospects will be joining the Phantoms for their final six games. Travis Sanheim is the next big name coming to Lehigh Valley, and his Calgary Hitmen teammate Radel Fazleev isn't far behind.

Every month here, I do an in-depth progress report on Flyers prospects playing in the AHL with the Phantoms. Here's March's monthly prospect report.

Oskar Lindblom recorded his first pro point in North America in just his second game with the Phantoms. I caught up with Lindblom upon his arrival to Lehigh Valley, and he told me he's looking to prove he can play well here across the pond away from his native Sweden.

Also on Tuesday, Flyers GM Ron Hextall confirmed that Phantoms' goaltender Jason LaBarbera is out for the season and used that as his reasoning behind signing goaltender Ray Emery as an insurance policy behind Steve Mason and Anthony Stolarz until Michal Neuvirth is ready to return to game action, hopefully for the postseason.

Hockey's Future

The Hartford Wolf Pack play a defense-first style that suits rookie defenseman Ryan Graves' skill set.

With leading scorer Hunter Shinkaruk traded at the deadline, rookie defenseman Jordan Subban has been stepping up his game to help the Utica Comets inch towards a postseason berth.

A look at the AHL Eastern Conference playoff picture entering the final month of the season in March's Notebook.

Philadelphia Flyers goaltending prospect Anthony Stolarz has made significant strides in his development in his second pro season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.


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