|Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey|
Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook
Editor's Note: As the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hit the road for the first time this season, it's time to remind you that Highland Park Hockey is the ONLY media outlet that covers the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate away from Pennsylvania - complete with live coverage from the rink and exclusive post-game interviews you simply cannot get anywhere else!
This is all done independent of a large newspaper company. If you'd like to see live road coverage of the Phantoms continue this season, please consider sharing/donating to our GoFundMe page. All of these road trips are done on my on time and money, and every little bit helps.
Thank you to the loyal readers here that have kept this going the past two seasons. Let's make a third year of full coverage at home AND on the road!
Whitehall - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms had one final practice Thursday morning before boarding the bus for Hartford, Connecticut - the site for their first of three road games in three nights this weekend.
"We have a tough stretch here after starting off the year with three at home," head coach Scott Gordon said following Thursday's practice. "Even though we haven't played a lot of games, I thought we got some quality practice time in and were able to get reps in certain things."
"If you can come out on the plus side of it, now you're looking at some favorable scheduling the rest of the way," Gordon added. "We have to make sure that these next two weekends we make it our objective to get two out of three. If we do that, we'll be in pretty good shape."
Leier Returns to Lehigh Valley
The Philadelphia Flyers recalled forward Taylor Leier on Tuesday in advance of their game against the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night. Although he didn't dress for his first NHL game of the season and was re-assigned to Lehigh Valley Thursday to join the Phantoms before they left on their upcoming road trip, Leier remained upbeat and positive upon returning to Phantoms practice Thursday morning.
I caught up with Leier after Thursday's practice in Whitehall. View the video interview below, and make sure you are subscribed to Highland Park Hockey's YouTube channel for extra access to the Phantoms this season.
Head coach Scott Gordon said he expects that forward Cole Bardreau will return to the Phantoms' lineup this weekend. Bardreau, who hasn't played in a game yet this season due to an offseason abdominal surgery in August, centered the team's 4th line in practice Thursday.
"It feels like it's been a really long summer, obviously with no training camp as well," Bardreau said. "You can only sit in the press box and watch for so long. Like you said, just looking to get out there get my feet wet and help the team."
Bardreau also admitted the upcoming stretch of games is important to the team's potential success this season.
"Anytime you can get points on the road, it's a big deal," Bardreau said, adding, "You talk to the veterans - you get into the playoffs in the beginning of the season, getting points early when you have your complete team because as the year goes on you lose guys to injuries, call ups, the makeup of the team is changed."
As for the upcoming road trip, Bardreau mirrored Leier's assessment in that he's a fan of playing on the road.
"I'm a big fan of bus trips. I like it," the Fairport, NY native explained. "Watching movies, playing cards with the guys. Get to know them and it builds chemistry. I heard we have a new bus this year, so I'm pretty fired up about that too."
Thursday's Practice Notes
- Tyrell Goulbourne (lower body) took an errant puck before practice drills began that according to head coach Scott Gordon caused him tightness and he wasn't able to push off to start his skating stride. A frustrated Goulbourne left the ice and didn't return. Gordon called Goulbourne questionable for Friday's game against Hartford.
- Corban Knight and Petr Straka were the extra forwards at practice today, although Knight slotted into Goulbourne's spot after he left the session. With three games in three nights, it wouldn't be surprising to see guys worked into the lineup as the weekend progresses.
- Max Lamarche and Reece Willcox were splitting reps on the third pairing today. It's possible with the upcoming three-in-three that both will get into game action this weekend.
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Colin McDonald
Taylor Leier - Mark Zengerle - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Danick Martel - Jordan Weal - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne* - Cole Bardreau - Radel Fazleev
Corban Knight - Petr Straka
Defense rotated during drills, but these look to be the pairings Friday:
T.J. Brennan - Will O'Neill
Travis Sanheim - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Reece Willcox/Maxim Lamarche
Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon