The Lehigh Valley Phantoms spent this past weekend in Canada, and boy, did they have fun.
The Phantoms swept their three-game road trip through Canada with an overtime win in Laval and two regulation wins in Belleville and Toronto. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had an especially good time on the trip, picking up two, game-winning goals.
There’s a close connection between goalie Alex Lyon and Phantoms coach Scott Gordon. The two can relate well to each other because they have gone through much of the same trials as hockey players. Both went undrafted as goalies, Gordon out of Boston University in the 1980s and Lyon out of Yale. Both also experienced some lean times in the minors.
The Phantoms continued their up-and-down play this season by splitting two road games over the weekend.
On Friday, they beat Providence 5-4 but followed that up with a 3-2 loss to Springfield the following night. After 16 games, the Phantoms are 9-5-1-1, but are 4-3-1-0 over their last eight games. It’s worth noting that four of those games have been against Springfield (9-4-0-2) and Charlotte (13-3-1-0), who are two of the three teams ahead of the Phantoms in the Atlantic Division. They’ve also played two games against Binghamton (8-7-3-0), who are third in the North Division.
The Phantoms offense has been hot early in the season. Hot enough that they are tied for second in the AHL in goals, just two behind the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, who lead the league with 57 goals. The Phantoms, Chicago Wolves and Toronto Marlies all have 55 goals on the season following weekend action.
Defensively, Lehigh Valley has allowed 49 goals, ranking 11th in the league for the most goals allowed.
The rivalry is back and as good as ever.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-2-0-1) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (4-2-0-0) started the 2018-2019 version of their rivalry at the PPL Center last Friday and then took it north for the second game of the series. The teams split the two games, ironically, with each winning on the other team’s home ice.
Get ready for what could be a roller coaster ride with the Phantoms this season.
The team is very young and with that youth often comes inconsistency. Look at the first two games and you’ll see the start of the ride.
In a game marred by heavy rain, yellow cards and ejections, Whitehall lost a 2-0 decision to Emmaus Tuesday night at Memorial Field at Emmaus High School.
Much of the game was played in varying amounts of rain that fell hard during parts of the game. Things started to get a little more physical in the second half and the refs wound up handing out five yellow cards and ejecting an Emmaus assistant coach and a Whitehall player.
Players have been coming and going between Philadelphia, the Lehigh Valley and Reading the past week. The Phillies acquired catcher Wilson Ramos and lefty reliever Aaron Loup in trades at last week’s trade deadline, necessitating one move that led to others.
Ramos is battling back from a hamstring injury and was placed on the disabled list, but there was time to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him.
For the first time since moving to the Lehigh Valley, the Phantoms reached the Eastern Conference Finals. Unfortunately, their stay in the finals didn’t last long as the Toronto Marlies, complete with a number of players who saw considerable time in the NHL this season, swept the Phantoms in four games to end Lehigh Valley’s quest for a Calder Cup championship, winning 3-1 in the series finale.
“You look up and down their roster, obviously, they’re very, very talented,” said goalie Alex Lyon. “They play an NHL style game, very tenacious.”
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms went into Toronto on a mission to do something that no other team has done this postseason; beat the Marlies on their home ice. Toronto has gone 7-0 at home this postseason after winning all five home games in last year’s playoffs. While the effort was there, the result wasn’t and Toronto has jumped out to a 2-0 lead in games over the Phantoms in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Championship series. The series now returns to Lehigh Valley for the next three games.