Game 59 Preview: Hershey at Lehigh Valley

Friday, March 10, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
The 'home stretch' starts with Hershey 

Editor's Note - I'll have full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Hershey Bears, live from the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pa.
The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. ET, but make sure you're following along on Twitter -> @TonyAndrock and Facebook (like the Facebook page!) for all the latest updates and information. 
Stay tuned here online after the game for a recap of the action. Don't forget to subscribe to Highland Park Hockey's YouTube channel for post-game interviews with players.
Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (37-18-3) really enter the home stretch tonight when they host the Hershey Bears in the first of four straight road contests.

In fact, the Phantoms remain in the state of Pennsylvania for all but three games in their final 18 games of the 2016-17 with a trip to St. John's in late March for a pair of games and the regular season finale in Binghamton on April 15th serving as their only real road trips out of the state.

The road-heavy schedule in the beginning of the year has paved the way for 11 of the final 18 games to be played at the PPL Center, while four of the teams' final seven road contests will be played either in Wilkes-Barre (three) or Hershey (one).

While the competition within the division is fierce, having the ability to have a light travel schedule in the final quarter of the season could prove beneficial somewhere down the line.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms' win over the Penguins Wednesday night moved them to within four points of the first place Penguins with a game in hand on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 31 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

After the jump, a full preview of everything you need to know in advance of tonight's game.

Help keep Highland Park Hockey providing live coverage of the American Hockey League (AHL), and make a donation today via GoFundMe or PayPal!

By The Numbers

LV: 58 games played, 37-18-3-0 = 77 points
2nd Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Last Ten Games: 5-4-1-0

HER: 59 games played, 31-17-8-3 = 73 points
5th Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 3-0-0-0
Last Ten Games: 6-4-0-0

Special Teams

Power Play

LV - 64-for-285: 22.5% = 5th in AHL
HER - 56-for-256: 21.9% = 6th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV - 187-for-223: 83.9% = 6th in AHL
HER - 215-for-263: 81.7% = 17th in AHL

Leading Scorers

LV: T.J. Brennan (58GP, 17G-32A), Chris Conner (58GP, 19G-29A), Greg Carey (58GP, 26G-17A) and Andy Miele (47GP, 7G-34A)

HER: Chris Bourque (59GP, 16G-34A), Travis  Boyd (59GP, 12G-35A), Christian Thomas (53GP, 22G-20A) and Christian Djoos (50GP, 10G-30A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

LV: Anthony Stolarz (21GP, 13-7-0, 3.06 GAA, .906 SV%, 1 SO)
HER: Pheonix Copley (27GP, 17-6-3, 2.23 GAA, .924 SV%, 1 SO)

Season Series

Tonight marks the 10th of 12 regular season meetings between the Phantoms and Bears. Lehigh Valley is 5-4 against Hershey this season, coming off a 5-1 rout of the Bears in Giant Center in their most recent meeting back on January 22nd.

Season Series Schedule

Sunday, October 30th: Lehigh Valley - 2 at Hershey - 3
Sunday, November 13th: Lehigh Valley - 3 at Hershey - 1
Friday, December 2nd: Hershey - 4 at Lehigh Valley - 3
Saturday, December 3rd: Lehigh Valley - 3 at Hershey - 2 (OT)
Friday, December 16th: Hershey - 2 at Lehigh Valley - 3 (SO)
Monday, December 26th: Hershey - 5 at Lehigh Valley - 2
Friday, January 13th: Hershey - 2 at Lehigh Valley - 6
Saturday, January 14th: Lehigh Valley - 4 at Hershey - 6
Sunday, January 22nd: Lehigh Valley - 5 at Hershey - 1
Friday, March 10th: Hershey at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET
Sunday, April 2nd: Lehigh Valley at Hershey - 5:00 p.m. ET
Wednesday, April 5th: Hershey at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Alex Lyon is expected back between the pipes tonight against Hershey coming off of Wednesday's 3-0 shutout win in Wilkes-Barre Wednesday. Just a matter of sticking with the hot hand or sticking to alternating starts between Lyon and Anthony Stolarz? Imagine both goalies will get in a game this weekend.

Defenseman Robert Hagg (suspected lower body) and forward Danick Martel (suspected concussion protocol) both exited with injuries in the second period last Friday night in Springfield. Neither skated with the team at practice this week.

Tyrell Goulbourne was called up to Lehigh Valley and joined the team in Hartford Saturday morning. giving the Phantoms 12 healthy forwards.

Reece Willcox had been the team's extra defenseman, but with Hagg's injury is back into the lineup alongside T.J. Brennan.

Steven Swavely blocked a shot during the third period in Utica two weekends ago, and left the game. It's safe to say Swavely will likely miss several weeks as he was seen at last Thursday's practice with his left hand/wrist in a cast.

Taylor Leier (suspected concussion symptoms) will miss his 15th straight game, having not played since the AHL All-Star challenge on January 30th. Leier skated briefly with the team at practice last week at PPL Center, but was the only skater wearing a green jersey and he exited the ice about 15-20 minutes after I arrived for the 10:30 practice. There are no updates being given on Leier's status or a timetable for his return from Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton on February after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was expected to miss a few weeks with a lower body injury. No update from HC Scott Gordon on any potential timetable for a return to the lineup for Gordon or any of the injured players as per his usual vagueness with updating injured players.

Expected Scratches: Robert Hagg (lower body), Steven Swavely (upper body), Danick Martel (undisclosed), Taylor Leier (concussion) and Boyd Gordon (lower body)

Expected Lines:

Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Mark Zengerle
Nicolas Aube-Kubel - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Tyrell Goulbourne - Chris McCarthy - Radel Fazleev

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Will O'Neill - Mark Alt
Sam Morin - Travis Sanheim

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon

Recent Transactions

3/4: ADD - F Tyrell Goulbourne recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/1: DEL - F Jordan Weal recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
3/1: ADD - F Jordan Weal returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
2/13: ADD - D Reece Willcox reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL) from Reading (ECHL)
2/12: DEL - D Reece Willcox reassigned by Philadelphia (NHL) to Reading (ECHL)
2/11: ADD - F Steven Swavely recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/10: ADD - F Chris McCarthy recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
2/10: DEL - F Jordan Weal recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)

Hershey Bears

Roster Notes

Pheonix Copley gets the start in net for Hershey tonight with rookie Vitek Vanecek serving as the Bears' backup goaltender tonight.

None of the recent additions to the team are in the lineup tonight for Hershey. Hampus Gustafsson and Mason Mitchell have joined the club on amateur tryout contracts.

Newly acquired defenseman Mattias Backman also did not get into the lineup tonight for Hershey.

Scratches: Madison Bowey (lower body), Dustin Gazley (lower body), Domenic Monardo (upper body), Cody Corbett, Mattias Backman, Kelly Zajac, Hampus Gustafsson and Mason Mitchell

Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Chris Bourque - Travis Boyd - Riley Barber
Paul Carey - Chandler Stephenson - Stanislav Galiev
Ryan Bourque - Zach Sill - Christian Thomas
Liam O'Brien - Nathan Walker - Garrett Mitchell

Christian Djoos - Tom Gilbert
Aaron Ness - Tyler Lewington
Hubert Labrie - Colby Williams

Pheonix Copley - Vitek Vanecek


Post a Comment