Saturday's Morning Skate 11/26

Saturday, November 26, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The recent surge by the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-4-1) has moved them atop the Atlantic Division for the first time this season. They're the hottest team in the American Hockey League (AHL) right now, entering today's games with wins in 10 of their last 11.

Still, it's early in the 2016-17 season and nothing is set in stone in the Eastern Conference. For now, it appears that annual contenders Hershey, Toronto and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are one step ahead of the rest and for the time being the Phantoms have entered themselves into the conversation among who's at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are back at it tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack. We'll have full coverage of tonight's game on Highland Park Hockey, so stay tuned here and on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock.

After the jump, a look around the Atlantic Division as well as a look ahead to Saturday's games.

Atlantic Division Standings (through 11/18's games)

1. Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 17 games played, 12-4-1-0 = 25 points (0.735 PCT)
2. W-B/Scranton Penguins, 18 games played, 12-4-2-0 = 26 points (0.722 PCT)
3. Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 17 games played, 12-5-0-0 = 24 points (0.706 PCT)
4. Hershey Bears, 18 games played, 10-4-3-1 = 24 points (0.667 PCT)
5. Springfield Thunderbirds, 17 games played, 7-6-2-2 = 18 points (0.529 PCT)
6. Providence Bruins, 18 games played, 7-6-3-2 = 19 points (0.528 PCT)
7. Hartford Wolf Pack, 18 games played, 5-10-3-0 = 13 points (0.361 PCT)

Around The Atlantic

Binghamton - 3 at Lehigh Valley - 4

Allentown, PA - In the second game of a home-and-home series with the Binghamton Senators, the Phantoms struck first and last in a sea-saw battle with the BSens in a 4-3 victory Friday night.

Jordan Weal tallied the game's opening goal and what turned out to be the game-winning with 4:05 left in the third, while Taylor Leier extended his points-scoring streak to five games with a crucial go-ahead goal early in the final frame.

The win, combined with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's overtime loss to Bridgeport, puts Lehigh Valley in first place in the Atlantic Division for the time being based on percentage points.

The Phantoms remain home to host Hartford Saturday, while Binghamton heads home to host Syracuse.

Hershey - 5 at Springfield - 2

Springfield, MA - The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, but it was the Hershey Bears responding with four unanswered goals - including two late empty net tallies - to take a 5-2 win Friday night at the Mass Mutual Center.

Nathan Walker led the way with a pair of goals for Hershey, while Mike Downing and Shane Harper both tallied their first goals of the season for Springfield.

The two teams travel to Giant Center to complete the home and home series tonight.

W-B/Scranton -2 at Bridgeport -  3 (OT)

Bridgeport, CT - The Penguins battled back from two separate one-goal deficits Friday night at Webster Bank Arena, but it still wasn't enough to get the two points as the Sound Tigers capitalized on a 2-on-1 in overtime to come away with the win.

Connor Jones scored the game-winning goal with 1:05 left in overtime, while Steve Bernier and Ross Johnston each tallied goals int he win for Bridgeport.

Jarrett Burton and Josh Archibald scored for the Penguins, who managed a point in a game they never led.

The two teams travel to Wilkes-Barre for a rematch tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Providence - 2 at St. John's - 1

St. John's, NL - The Providence Bruins extended their unbeaten streak to four games with a win Friday night in St. John's, leaning heavily on Dan Vladar (30 saves) to get two points in the standings.

Wayne Simpson got the PBruins on the board just 27 seconds into the game, while Peter Cehlarik added what turned out to be the game-winning goal midway through the second period.

Ryan Johnston scored his first of the season in the lone tally for the IceCaps, while goaltender Charlie Lindgren kept it close the entire night stopping 28 of the 30 shots he faced.

The two teams face off again tonight in Newfoundland, Canada.

Albany - 4 at Hartford - 3 (OT)

Hartford, CT - The WolfPack's early season woes continued Friday night at home against the Devils, in a game they led 3-1 in the third period.

In fact, the Devils trailed 3-1 with less than 10 minutes left in regulation as goals from Chris Brown, Matt Carey and Adam Tambellini appeared to have Hartford well on their way to a much needed victory. Instead, goals from Kevin Rooney and Ben Sexton forced overtime.

In the extra session, Miles Wood tallied the game-winner for Albany on an assist from the recently reassigned Blake Pietila to lift Albany to the come from behind win.

The WolfPack will travel to Lehigh Valley to face the Phantoms Saturday night, while Albany heads home to host Rochester.

Other AHL Scores

Cleveland - 5 at Grand Rapids - 3
Toronto - 4 at Syracuse - 5 (OT)
Utica - 5 at Rochester - 2
Milwaukee - 3 at Rockford - 2
Texas - 4  at San Antonio - 3
Bakersfield - 1 at San Jose - 4

Saturday's AHL Schedule

Utica at Toronto - 1:30 p.m. ET
Rochester at Albany - 5:00 p.m. ET
Iowa at Charlotte - 6:00 p.m. ET
Providence at St. John's - 6:30 p.m. ET
Grand Rapids at Cleveland - 7:00 p.m. ET
Springfield at Hershey - 7:00 p.m. ET
Manitoba at Milwaukee - 7:00 p.m. ET
Syracuse at Binghamton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Hartford at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Bridgeport at W-B/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET
Rockford at Chicago - 8:00 p.m. ET
San Jose at Ontario - 9:00 p.m. ET
Stockton at Tucson - 9:05 p.m. ET
San Diego at Bakersfield - 10:00 p.m. ET


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