Game 71 Preview: Hershey at Lehigh Valley

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
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.
ALLENTOWN - The Phantoms can avoid putting any pressure on themselves to close out the club's first playoff berth as an AHL franchise in the Lehigh Valley when they host the Hershey Bears for the final time in the regular season Wednesday night.

The Flyers haven't seen their minor league affiliate in the AHL qualify for the postseason in the last seven seasons, but a regulation win on home ice tonight will all but ensure the Phantoms will qualify for the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The two teams just played Sunday evening in Hershey, and the Phantoms' 4-2 win really puts the Bears back into a corner in fifth place, entering Wednesday's games three points out of the playoffs in the Atlantic Division.

The Phantoms will get an added boost with the expected returns of Sam Morin and Colin McDonald tonight, reassigned from the Flyers earlier in the afternoon.

They'll have the hometown fans behind them. A Phantoms win of any kind will likely bring up clinching scenarios for Lehigh Valley, but a regulation victory would certainly make the final five games a lot less stressful.

Phantoms' Playoff Update - Atlantic Division Standings through 4/4's games:
X - WBS (98 points, 6 games remaining) 
LV (92, 6 GR) 
PRO (91, 6 GR)
BST (90, 5GR) 
HER (87, 5GR)
SPR (69, 5GR)
HFD (52, 6GR) 
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 6 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.

By The Numbers

LV: 70 games played, 44-22-4-0 = 92 points
2nd Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 1-0-0-0
Last Ten Games: 5-4-1-0

HER: 71 games played, 38-22-8-3 = 87 points
5th Place Atlantic Division
Streak: 0-3-0-0
Last Ten Games: 6-4-0-0

Special Teams

Power Play

LV - 70-for-335: 20.9% = 7th in AHL
HER - 64-for-304: 21.1% = 6th in AHL

Penalty Kill

LV - 219-for-263: 83.3% = 7th in AHL
HER - 250-for-305: 82.0% = 15th in AHL

Leading Scorers

LV:  T.J. Brennan (70GP, 20G-35A),  Chris Conner (65GP, 22G-32A), Andy Miele (59GP, 10G-42A), and Greg Carey (68GP, 27G-22A)

HER: Chris Bourque (71GP, 18G-40A), Travis Boyd (71GP, 15G-45A), Christian Djoos (62GP, 12G-43A) and Christian Thomas (64GP, 24G-23A)

Expected Starting Goaltenders

LV: Alex Lyon (43GP, 25-14-4, 2.72 GAA, .911 SV%, 4 SO)
HER: Pheonix Copley (37GP, 22-11-3, 2.34 GAA, .922 SV%, 1 SO)

Season Series

Tonight marks the 12th  regular season meeting between the Phantoms and Bears. Lehigh Valley is 7-4 against Hershey this season, coming off a 3-2 regulation win on home ice back on March 10th and a win in Hershey at Giant Center to conclude last weekend's three-in-three.

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 - 2 at Lehigh Valley - 3
Wednesday, April 5th: Hershey at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Lehigh Valley Phantoms

Roster Notes

Alex Lyon will get the start in net tonight for Lehigh Valley against the Bears in Hershey. Martin Ouellette, who was called up from the Flyers' ECHL affiliate in Reading over the weekend, will back up Lyon.

The Philadelphia Flyers assigned defenseman Sam Morin and forward Colin McDonald to Lehigh Valley earlier today prior to tonight's game. Morin made his NHL debut last night against New Jersey - leading the way with a game-high seven hits and playing a relatively quiet game and being sound defensively.

Anthony Stolarz was called up to Philadelphia on an emergency basis due to Steve Mason's illness, leaving Wilkes-Barre Saturday around 5 p.m. ET last Saturday - making it to Philadelphia just about when the puck was dropped. He was later thrust into game action after Flyers' goaltender Michal Neuvirth collapsed in the first period.

Chris Conner (upper body) returned after a five-game injury absence in Friday's game. Greg Carey returned Saturday in Wilkes-Barre after a two-game injury absence.

Reece Willcox was reassigned to ECHL Reading prior to last weekend's games, but was returned to Lehigh Valley earlier this week prior to Sam Morin's first NHL call up Tuesday.

The latest  injury news comes in the form of an update to defenseman Will O'Neill's injury he sustained early in the 1st period of Saturday's 4-1 win against Utica on March 11th. O'Neill was seen sporting a cast on his left wrist at the team's annual team photo day earlier this week - a sign he's going to be out longer term. Let's put him in the four-to-six week range, meaning he can hopefully get healthy for the postseason.

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, joined the Phantoms on a tryout contract for the remainder of the season. He participated in his first ever AHL warmup skate Saturday in Wilkes-Barre.

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 a recent Phantoms game in Allentown walking with a knee brace over his suit pants. His season and a potential return to the lineup remain in the balance.

Expected Scratches: Will O'Neill (upper body), Boyd Gordon (lower body) and three healthy scratches TBD - likely Mark Friedman, Chris McCarthy, Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Expected Lines

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Corban Knight - Mark Zengerle
Tyrell Goulbourne - Radel Fazleev - Cole Bardreau

T.J. Brennan - Robert Hagg
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Travis Sanheim - Max Lamarche

Alex Lyon - Martin Ouellette

Recent Transactions

4/5: ADD - RW Colin McDonald returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
4/5: ADD - D Sam Morin returned on loan from Philadelphia (NHL)
4/4: DEL - D Sam Morin recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
4/3: ADD - D Reece Willcox reassigned from Reading (ECHL) to Lehigh Valley (AHL)
4/1: ADD - G Martin Ouellette recalled from loan to Reading (ECHL)
4/1: DEL - G Anthony Stolarz recalled from loan by Philadelphia (NHL)
3/31: ADD - D Mark Friedman signed to amateur tryout (ATO)
3/31: DEL - D Reece Willcox returned on loan to Reading (ECHL)
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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