Game 67 Preview: Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley

Sunday, March 26, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Editor's Note - I'll have full coverage of tonight's Phantoms game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, live from the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, Pa.
The puck drops at 5:00 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.
ALLENTOWN - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (42-20-4) finish their four-game week with an important Sunday evening tilt against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (39-24-3).

Tonight's game is being broadcast on the NHL Network!

The Phantoms can really put a stranglehold on one of the four playoff positions in the Atlantic Division by beating the Bridgeport Sound Tigers tonight and again next weekend when the two teams face off again.

With the Sound Tigers currently on the outside looking in on the playoff picture in fifth place, a Phantoms win combined with a Sound Tigers regulation loss is a four point swing in terms of lowering the infamous magic number.

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

Phantoms' Playoff Update - The Phantoms' 4-0 loss to the Penguins didn't help their cause, but regulation losses by Hershey and Bridgeport help Lehigh Valley - particularly the Sound Tigers' loss in Hartford. Bridgeport's loss lowers the Phantoms' magic number by two points despite the fact that Lehigh Valley lost Saturday night.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 14 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

By The Numbers

LV: 66 games played, 42-20-4-0 = 88 points
2nd Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Last Ten Games: 6-3-1-0

BST: 66 games played, 39-24-2-1 = 81 points
5th Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 0-1-0-0
Last Ten Games: 4-6-0-0

Special Teams

Power Play

LV - 69-for-323: 21.4% = 6th in AHL
BST - 42-for-262: 16.0% = 20th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV - 209-for-252: 83.3% = 8th in AHL
BST - 216-for-271: 79.7% = 24th in AHL

Leading Scorers

LV:  T.J. Brennan (66GP, 20G-33A), Andy Miele (55GP, 8G-40A), Greg Carey (66GP, 26G-21A) and Colin McDonald (65GP, 22G-18A)

BST: Bracken Kearns (64GP, 22G-25A), Tanner Fritz (60GP, 19G-21A), Devon Toews (66GP, 4G-35A) and Ryan Pulock (45GP, 13G-24A)

Starting Goaltenders

LV: Anthony Stolarz  (25GP, 17-7-0, 2.95 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO)
BST: Stephon Williams (22GP, 6-13-0, 2,98 GAA, .892 SV%, 1 SO)

Season Series

Tonight marks the seventh of eight scheduled meetings between the Phantoms and Sound Tigers this season. The Phantoms are 2-4-0 against Bridgeport this season.

Bridgeport won the first three games of the season series, but the Phantoms stormed back for two straight wins against the Sound Tigers before dropping the team's final game before the All-Star break in Bridgeport back on January 28th.

The last match up between the two teams at PPL Center saw the Phantoms blow a 5-1 lead before winning 8-6 in a wild Wednesday night game in December.

Season Series

Friday, October 21st: Bridgeport - 5 at Lehigh Valley - 2
Saturday, October 29th: Lehigh Valley - 4 at Bridgeport - 5
Saturday, November 19th: Lehigh Valley - 2 at Bridgeport - 5
Sunday, December 4th: Lehigh Valley - 3 at Bridgeport - 2
Wednesday, December 14th: Bridgeport - 6 at Lehigh Valley - 8
Saturday, January 28th: Lehigh Valley - 2 at Bridgeport - 3
Sunday, March 26th: Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley - 5:05 p.m. ET
Friday, March 31st: Bridgeport at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Coming off back-to-back wins in St. John's, Anthony Stolarz is expected to get the start in net as Alex Lyon played last night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Greg Carey left the game early in the third period last night against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton after an awkward collision with a teammate. Carey did not return and head coach Scott Gordon didn't have an update on his status moving into today's game. If Carey is unable to go, Mark Zengerle has been the odd man out among the forwards lately as a healthy scratch and is more than capable of being plugged into the lineup.

The Philadelphia Flyers signed their 2014-3rd round draft pick, defenseman Mark Friedman, to an entry level contract beginning in the 2017-18 season. The former Bowling Green State Univeristy product, who tallied 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in 40 games this season in the WCHA, will join the Phantoms this weekend on a tryout contract for the remainder of the season. He participated in his first on-ice practice with the Phantoms Friday in Whitehall.

Taylor Leier returned to the lineup Saturday in Wilkes-Barre after missing the previous 19 games with lingering symptoms of a concussion he suffered back in late January. We debuted Leier's story in our new 'Friday Feature' weekly series.

Chris Conner, who did not travel with the team to St. John's and also missed last Saturday's game and last night's game with an injury per head coach Scott Gordon. As per usual, no further details were provided on Conner's status moving forward.

Defenseman Will O'Neill left early in the 1st period of Saturday's 4-1 win against Utica on March 11th after an apparent upper body injury he sustained jamming his left hand/wrist after a fall into the boards.

Steven Swavely was reassigned to ECHL Reading on Tuesday per the league's transactions, and it appears he'll be getting back into action soon.

Jesper Pettersson was also reassigned to ECHL Reading earlier this week. With Hagg's expected return to the lineup and Friedman's arrival from the collegiate ranks, the Phantoms had nine healthy defensemen on the roster.

Boyd Gordon, who left in a Wednesday home game against Binghamton after a sliding BSens' forward crunched into his legs in the corner boards, was initially expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. He was seen at last Friday night's game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants.

Expected Scratches: Robert Hagg (healthy), Will O'Neill (upper body), Greg Carey (undisclosed), Chris Conner (undisclosed), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and Mark Friedman (healthy)

Expected Lines

Cole Bardreau - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald (C)
Taylor Leier (A)  - Andy Miele (A) - Mark Zengerle
Danick Martel - Corban Knight - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Chris McCarthy

T.J. Brennan - Reece Willcox
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Max Lamarche

Anthony Stolarz - Alex Lyon

Recent Transactions

3/24: DEL - D Jesper Pettersson returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/21: DEL - RW Steven Swavely returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/13: ADD - D Jesper Pettersson recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/13: ADD - D Max Lamarche recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
3/4: ADD - LW Tyrell Goulbourne recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)


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