Whitehall-Coplay Press

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

LV ready for season

Thursday, October 3, 2019 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished up their preseason schedule Monday night at the PPL Center, falling to the Hershey Bears 2-0. Both teams finished the preseason with identical 2-1-0-0 records and look to open the regular season this weekend. For Lehigh Valley, the opener comes at home against Providence Saturday night.

If the preseason showed anything, it was that the goalie situation is going to be a tough one for the Phantoms to figure out. Alex Lyon, J.F. Berube and Felix Sandstrom all put on impressive displays with Lyon and Berube getting wins. Together, the three combined to stop 60 of 64 shots in the three games.

A little over a week ago, Lyon was placed on waivers and went unclaimed, allowing him to join the Phantoms goalie battle. His place with the organization isn’t on the best of ground and he was likely hoping to get claimed and look for a fresh start elsewhere. Ironically, the Flyers included Lyon on their travel squad to Prague where they will open the season Friday night. It’s unlikely that Lyon will be activated and was primarily just added as an extra player since teams are allowed to carry more than the 23-man roster to cover for any injuries that may occur.

Berube was also in camp with the Flyers but was ultimately placed on waivers to be sent to Lehigh Valley. Last season, Berube played with the Cleveland Monster of the AHL. Sandstrom did the most eye-opening of any of the young goalies in Flyers camp, but with the presence of Carter Hart in Philadelphia, there’s a giant roadblock to his seeing much NHL playing time this season.

For top prospect Morgan Frost, the Flyers training camp was an up-and-down affair. He came in with little hopes of actually making the team, but when Nolan Patrick was diagnosed with a migraine disorder, Frost’s hopes rebounded a little. In the end though, the Flyers sent him to Lehigh Valley for more work. Part of Frost’s issue was a groin injury that limited his opportunities to show the Flyers how he could fit in with the team.

Adding Frost is much like having an embarrassment of riches at the forward position. He’ll join Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Isaac Ratcliffe, German Rubstov, Matthew Strome, Maksim Sushko and Mikhail Vorobyev on a Phantoms team that has a healthy mix of young players and veterans to help show them how the game is played. Frost and Ratcliffe paired nicely during the rookie game and could be matched up again with the Phantoms. Because of his extended stint with the Flyers, Frost didn’t appear on the ice with the Phantoms during the preseason.

For his part, Ratcliffe is adjusting to life in the AHL. “I feel like I’m getting better as the game goes on. I’ve got more comfortable and more confident with the puck and I find myself holding on to the puck a little bit more.”

SHARING THE PUCK... The Phantoms scored seven goals in the three preseason games and each was scored by a different player. Greg Carey had a three-point game in the opener against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a goal and two assists. Steven Swavely, Pascal Laberge, Matthew Strome, Andy Andreoff, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Mikhail Vorobyev all scored preseason goals for Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms lost to Hershey, but went 2-0 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a 4-1 win and a 3-1 win.

WE’VE GOT THE POWER... Watch this season’s power play and penalty killing for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Both areas have been a point of emphasis and both came through pretty well in the preseason. The Phantoms killed off 13 of their 14 preseason penalties, including 12 in a row to finish the preseason. As for going on the power play, Lehigh Valley was 4-for-15 on the power play, but did finish with nothing to show for their last five opportunities.

SETTLE IN AT HOME... The Phantoms have a nice, comfortable schedule to open the season, at least in terms of being at home. Their first five games are all on the home ice, facing Providence, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey, Binghamton and Springfield. After that comes a two-game trip to Charlotte and another home game with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.