Lehigh Valley Phantoms First Quarter Report

Friday, December 2, 2016
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Editor's note: The monthly feature aimed to inform fans about the progress the prospects have made each month is back, but with a twist! With the month of November ending and also marking the end of the first quarter of the 2016-17, this first quarter report takes a look at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' first 19 games.

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (13-5-1) didn't set the world on fire in the opening month of the 2016-17 season with a 2-3-1 record in October, but they more than made up for it in November - winning 11 of 13 games and putting themselves in a position to contend for the top spot in the Atlantic Division as the middle portion of the season gets going.

How big an impact are some of the veteran additions to the roster this summer playing in the team's early season success? How are the prospects - i.e. Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, etc. - faring so far? Will the Phantoms' early season triumphs continue?

Let's take a look at the Phantoms' first 19 games from all angles, both individually and as a team.

Special Teams

Power Play

First Quarter Stats: 19 games played, 22 for 87 = 25.3% - 4th in AHL (Four shorthanded goals against)

Penalty Kill

First Quarter Stats: 19 games played, 58 for 70 = 82.9% - 13th in AHL (Three shorthanded goals for)

An update on every player on the roster after the jump.


Anthony Stolarz - Grade A-
First Quarter AHL Stats: 8GP, 6-2-0, 2.39 GAA, .927 SV%, 1 SO

Stolarz was getting into a rhythm with the Phantoms before his call up to the Philadelphia Flyers. After several stints in the NHL, it was finally time for Stolarz to get his first NHL start. He didn't disappoint.

Alex Lyon - Grade A-
First Quarter Stats: 11GP, 7-3-1, 2.46 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO

It was a bit of a rocky start to Lyon's pro career - he surrendered five goals in each of his first two starts this season - but the rookie has come on strong since Stolarz's call up to Philadelphia. He's started eight straight games for Lehigh Valley and the goaltending hasn't skipped a beat.


Sam Morin - Grade B+
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 2G-3A, +1, 29 PIM

Don't look now, but Morin is starting to generate some offense with a goal in back-to-back games to end November. Paired with Travis Sanheim, Morin says he's not focusing on offense much at all these days - just honing his craft and working on his defensive game to get ready for the NHL. Morin's been good in all three zones and isn't too far away from being a Flyers defenseman.

Robert Hagg - Grade C+
First Quarter Stats: 13GP, 0G-1A, +2, 8 PIM

Hagg took a point shot under his visor in November 5th's game against Springfield and missed nearly three weeks before returning for the team's final four games of the month. When in the lineup, he's been a solid third pairing defenseman playing a complimentary defensive style along side offensively-minded guys like Will O'Neill. Hagg has sort of quietly been going about his business so far this year.

Travis Sanheim - Grade B
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 0G-9A, +5, 12 PIM

Sanheim is adjusting well to the pro game through the first quarter of the season, logging ice time paired with Sam Morin with no limitations. In fact, head coach Scott Gordon wants Sanheim bringing the puck up ice and joining the rush. While he hasn't tallied his first goal of the season just yet, he's seen his fair share of point shots end up in the back of the net on screens and deflections in front - particularly on the power play where he's a member of the second unit. The general consensus is that he's NHL-ready with the puck on his stick and is working on his play away from the puck to round out his game into NHL-ready form.

Will O'Neill - Grade B
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 1G-9A, -2, 4 PIM

O'Neill has been a solid addition to the Phantoms' blue line, using his excellent passing ability and hard shot to wreak havoc on a Phantoms' power play that has been near the top of the league throughout the season to date.

Max Lamarche - Grade B-
First Quarter Stats: 9GP, 2G-1A, +1, 4 PIM

Lamarche has been a pleasant surprise for Lehigh Valley since being inserted into the lineup during Robert Hagg's injury absence. He's played well enough that he remains in the lineup even with Hagg back in action. Lamarche has been mainly paired with T.J. Brennan this season, mixing and offensive guy and a defensive guy on a pairing.

T.J. Brennan - Grade A-
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 5G-11A, +9, 24 PIM

Brennan is still a point-getter at the AHL level, and when the puck is on his stick offensive chances and goals are often to follow. A top pairing and first unit power play staple, Brennan is logging big minutes for Lehigh Valley in the first quarter of the season.

Reece Willcox - Grade C+
First Quarter Stats: 16GP, 2G-1A, +7, 2 PIM

Willcox makes some of the typical rookie mistakes you'd expect but has proven he can handle the AHL level so far into his pro career. Entering his first full year of pro hockey this fall with a few games of experience has helped ease the transition for the former Cornell University defensive defenseman. He still has some adjusting to do, but there hasn't been anything too glaringly deficient in his game to this point.


Mark Zengerle - Grade B+
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 5G-7A, +3, 8 PIM

Zengerle has bounced around the lineup, playing both at wing and down the middle for the Phantoms in the first 19 games of the season. If not for some near-misses and downright ridiculous saves from opposing goaltenders (Mackenzie Skapski's save in Hartford made ESPN's Top 10 Plays), Zengerle might have twice as many goals as the five he's produced. Versatility and dependability surround this undersized but hard working forward.

Cole Bardreau - Grade B-
First Quarter Stats: 15GP, 2G-3A, +3, 26 PIM

Bardreau missed the preseason and first few games of the regular season, but has been getting back to being the hard-nosed two-way player he was last spring with Lehigh Valley.

Greg Carey - Grade A
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 10G-6A, -5, 6 PIM

Carey has had an almost immediate impact in Lehigh Valley, leading the team with 10 goals and shooting the puck from everywhere.

Colin McDonald - Grade A-
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 9G-2A, -1, 10 PIM

The captain has been leading by example and been hard in the dirty areas of the ice. Most of his goals have come in those hard areas of the ice, whether it be rebounds in the crease or deflections from the slot.

Corban Knight - Grade B+
First Quarter Stats: 18GP, 4G-3A, +4, 6 PIM

Arguably the unsung hero of the Phantoms through the first quarter of the season. From the fourth line all the way up to the first line, Knight has had success regardless of where he's been in the lineup and has played whatever role he has been given.

Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Grade C+
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 3G-2A, +6, 8 PIM

Buried a bit on the depth chart, it doesn't appear the Aube-Kubel has really been able to show all that he's capable of in the first quarter of the season. Playing primarily in the bottom six, NAK hasn't seen much special teams action thus far.

Danick Martel - Grade B
First Quarter Stats: 16GP, 4G-7A, Even, 25 PIM

Martel is still working on consistency and play away from the puck, but he's been able to use his strengths to his advantage similar to last season. Using his speed to blow past defenders and his tenacity around the net to muscle his way to second chance opportunities routinely gets under his opponents skin.

Radel Fazleev - Grade B-
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 1G-7A, +6, 10PIM

Fazleev has shown glimpses of being a strong two-way forward that the Flyers saw and prompted them to draft him out of Calgary (WHL). There's the obvious adjustment period to the pro game, but now 19 games into the season it should be time to see just how acclimated Fazleev is to the pro level this winter.

Andy Miele - Grade A-
First Quarter Stats: 9GP, 1G-6A, -4, 2 PIM

Miele's vision on the ice and offensive ability is second to none on this Phantoms' roster. He suffered a freak injury early in November and is just now getting near a return to the lineup, but when he's healthy look out! A top line center that can manage a team's power play from the half-wall, using his vision to set up his teammates and put them in a position to score and produce offense.

Chris Conner - Grade A
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 4G-10A, +2, 4 PIM

Conner has been one of the most consistent forwards for Lehigh Valley in the first quarter of the season. His patented moves - a power move to the net with the puck on his backhand, and his signature wrap around pass back to the side of the net - are still paying dividends this season.

Taylor Leier - Grade A
First Quarter Stats: 19GP, 5G-12A, +5, 8 PIM

Leier is the most NHL-ready prospect on the Phantoms' roster. The two-way forward does it all at the AHL level, and is simply buying his time for his next NHL opportunity with the Flyers when midseason injuries/trades/call ups occur.

Jordan Weal - Grade A
First Quarter Stats: 17GP, 7G-12A, +7, 10 PIM

Weal has accepted his return to the AHL with the right mentality, and it's showing on the ice. He's simply a man amongst boys at time in this league and similar to Leier is playing well and waiting for his next NHL chance.

Honorable Mentions

Tyrell Goulbourne - Grade Incomplete
First Quarter Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, Even, 9 PIM

Goulbourne was rotated out of the lineup and the Phantoms went on an eight-game winning streak. After serving as a healthy scratch for more than a handful of games, Goulbourne was reassigned to ECHL Reading to get into some game action.

Steven Swavely - Grade Incomplete
First Quarter Stats: 6GP, 0G-0A, Even, 0 PIM

Swavely was called up as a depth forward when injuries to Jordan Weal and Andy Miele, as well as the demotion of Tyrell Goulbourne caused there to be just 12 healthy guys up front. While with Reading, Swavely was a near point-per-game player in the ECHL and playing very well upon the time of his call up to Lehigh Valley.


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