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.
After the Charlotte Checkers literally manhandled the Phantoms at the PPL Center in game two of their division championship series, nobody would have predicted that the Phantoms would go on the road and sweep the next three games to win the series.
The 6-0 drubbing in game two seemed to have sent a message to the Phantoms who responded by winning three straight - including a historic game four – to head to the Conference Championship against the Toronto Marlies.
Erik Kratz is a guy who has come to accept his baseball life for what it is. In each of the last eight seasons, the Telford, Pennsylvania product has played at least a couple of games in the majors and has done so with six different major league teams, including the Phillies. He continued the streak last season when he played in four games with the Yankees and he’s returned to the organization this season and is playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Generally, you think of rivalries as being between teams in close proximity to each other.
Sometimes though, rivalries can develop because of circumstances, including a big playoff series. Such is the case for the budding rivalry between the Phantoms and Charlotte Checkers. The two teams played each other very evenly during the regular season and are matched up in the Atlantic Division finals on their quest for an AHL Calder Cup trophy.
The series win over Providence in the semifinals of the Atlantic Division playoffs was the first for the Phantoms franchise since their days of playing on the same ice that the Philadelphia Flyers played on at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
It came in the same year where their next-door neighbors, the Philadelphia Phillies, last won the World Series - 2008.
On Sunday, the Philadelphia Flyers had a one-goal lead as they looked to fight their way back into their best-of-seven series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
With the Flyers up 4-2, Pittsburgh scored five straight goals, including four by Jake Guentzel, and went on to eliminate the Flyers in six games with an 8-5 win.