After Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Binghamton Devils in Newark, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms look to rebound this afternoon against the Hershey Bears. They are facing off for the 2nd time out of 14 total games at the Giant Center during the span of a 38 game AHL schedule.
The Bears are looking to even up the season series against their rivals after suffering defeat in their first game of the season last Saturday. Since then Hershey has only played one other game, just like the Phantoms.
Forward rookie Connor McMichael scored his first professional goal to lead chocolate town over the Penguins 3-2 on Thursday evening at Mohegan Sun Arena on the road.
Pheonix Copley earned himself his 1st win of the AHL season before getting recalled to the NHL’s Taxi Squad yesterday. Currently the Hershey Bears only have Alex Dubeau listed as their loan goaltender after recalling him from the Bears ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. Charles Williams is no longer with the team after he was released from his PTO on February 7th.
The Washington Capitals play at 3:00PM against the Pittsburgh Penguins so unless it’s a short trip for Copley, Dubeau will get his first AHL start this season for Hershey.
Others that stood out in the Bears first win of the season were Hershey captain Matt Moulson. He scored his first goal of the season off the Penguins goaltender’s failed attempt to corral the puck. Kody Clark and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby looked very good and after an impressive opener against the Phantoms, they don’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon. Lehigh Valley Phantoms killer Mike Sgarbossa also scored the tying goal in that game as he now has two points on the season.
Hershey Bears Projected:
Lehigh Valley comes off a loss against the Devils where the power-play continued to struggle. That has been the storyline in the first two games of the season. On Wednesday, it was almost if the Phantoms were still buzzing off Wyatte Wylie’s first professional goal that tied the game with less than a minute to go. And with newcomer Ryan Fitzgerald sealing the deal in overtime.
In the first frame of that game on Wednesday there wasn’t much more Head Coach Scott Gordon could ask for from a coaches standpoint.
After Sam Morin dropped the gloves in the first game of the season last Saturday, Garett Wilson looked to set the tone by following in Morin’s footsteps. A fantastic scrap on the first shift of the game, Wilson landed several heavy blows to Ben Thompson. I think that fight really gave the rest of the Phantoms bench one heck of a booster.
The Phantoms didn’t allow a shot against in the opening 13 and a half minutes, and Binghamton’s first shot came on their lone power play chance of the period. Lehigh Valley was moving the puck very well, earning themselves several quality chances. It seemed as if cruise control was on the entire period, and to put a bow on everything, David Kase scored his first goal of the season, shorthanded. However, that’d be the only offense the Phantoms would get the entire game.
Binghamton truly had momentum, killing off three penalties in a row late in the third. Lehigh Valley also went perfect on the PK, going 4-for-4. The power-play continued to struggle, however. Two games into the season, the Phantoms are 0-9 on the man advantage. Will the monkey get off their back this afternoon or will the lows continue?
Lehigh Valley, for the second straight game, are without goaltender Felix Sandstrom, defenseman Derrick Pouliot and forward Sam Morin. Carter Hart and Brian Elliot are not injured. The additions to the Taxi Squad are due to team being shorthanded from COVID protocols.
There is also no new news yet if Wyatte Wylie and Yegor Zamula will be headed to the Hub Center in Regina as the WHL was recently granted approval to start the season in Hubs from both the governments of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. There is no projected start dates for the QJMHL and the OHL.
If Wylie and Zamula have played their final games as a member of the Phantoms, Lehigh Valley will have five blue-liners if Pouliot does not return.
The AHL also announced that announced that following schedule change for a Phantoms away game: Originally scheduled for Friday April 9th, the game will now be scheduled for Monday April 5th. Puckdrop will remain the same time at 7:00PM.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Projected:
Ryan Fitzgerald – Cal O’Reilly – Zayde Wisdom
Maksim Sushko – Chris Mueller – Tanner MacMaster
Garrett Wilson – David Kase – Pascal Laberge
Matt Strome – Max Willman – Brennan Saulnier
Egor Zamula – Tyler Wotherspoon
Chris Bigras – Wyatte Wylie
Linus Hogberg – Mason Millman
After two games, McAdam will get the start in goal today for the Phantoms. I also believe with it being a Sunday afternoon game that MacMaster, Salunier and Millman will get their first cracks in the lineup this afternoon.
This afternoon’s game will be available on AHL.TV. The Phantoms are in search of their second win of the season in their third straight road game.
Other action around the AHL this afternoon: Tucson Roadrunners visit the Ontario Reign and the Colorado Eagles begin their season against Trevor Zegras and the San Diego Gulls. Both of those puck-drops will be at 4:00PM EST with both games also available on AHL.TV.