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 Lehigh Valley Phantoms

New Lineup Gets Look in Tune-Up Game

April 20, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms News Release

Allentown, PA - The Lehigh Valley Phantoms gave a much-deserved day of rest to several regulars and veterans providing an opportunity for several players to receive opportunities in the lineup on Saturday night as the Phantoms dropped a 2-0 decision to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the second-to-last game of the season.

With the team's clinching victory on Friday at Bridgeport, the Phantoms' spot in the standings has been secured. An energetic group competed hard with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton contingent implementing its top lineup in the goaltenders' duel.

After the game, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms also were able to offically announce and confirm their upcoming playoff schedule. In a rivalry rematch against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the two teams will begin their Best of 3 series on Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre. Game 2 will be at Lehigh Valley on Friday at 7:05. If the series goes to a deciding third game then the teams would meet back in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday at 5:05.

Goaltender Alexei Kolosov had shaken off the rust in his North American pro debut last week. And in his second career AHL game, the 22-year-old from Belarus looked more comfortable in a strong 22-save effort that gave his team a chance. On the side was Ludovic Waeber for the Wilkes-Barre/Penguins who made several dazzling denials along the way to hold off the Phantoms. J-R Avon off the post in the opening minutes and Jacob Gaucher in the slot off the right pad of Waeber were two of the best chances of the evening bookending a night in which Lehigh Valley found some strong challenges to the net.

Newcomers Tyler Gratton and Jacques Bouquot both made their AHL debuts in the game after several practices with the Phantoms as well as seven games apiece in the ECHL with the Reading Royals. In fact, nine different players with Reading Royals ties were part of Lehigh Valley's lineup in this one. Meanwhile, some of the veterans and regulars to receive a day off included the captain Garrett Wilson, Tanner Laczynski, Louie Belpedio, Victor Mete and Cooper Marody as well as Bobby Brink, Adam Brooks, Rhett Gardner, Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning among others.

But the strangeness of the tune-up contest certainly didn't dampen the atmosphere at PPL Center as the crowd raised the energy level in excited anticipation for the postseason drama to come. It also didn't seem to make any difference in the overall feistiness and testiness of the rivalry between the two clubs. Even without the tougher players in the lineup, tensions rose high and some additional personal scores were developed within some scrums and altercations.

Lehigh Valley (31-31-9) perhaps had the better of the play in the first period as the Phantoms out shot the Penguins 8-6. But Wilkes-Barre/Scranton broke through early in the second period after a breakdown in coverage with the Penguins setting up a wide-ope Sam Poulin on the backdoor who was able to walk right in on Kolosov and bury his partial-breakaway chance on a five-hole conversion at 6:19 into the second period for a 1-0 lead.

The Penguins extended its advantage early in the second period right after a power play had expired. Wilkes-Bare/Scranton (39-24-9) was still buzzing and the Phantoms penalty kill was kind of scrambling when Vinnie Hinostroza connected with an open Radim Zohorna at the doorstep at 3:34 for a 2-0 lead.

The Phantoms were unable to convert after pulling Kolosov for the extra attacker and the Penguins hung on for the win. But Ian Laperriere indicated he was pleased with his team's compete-level and energy while he enjoyed the opportunity to get a look at some new players and evaluate their potential as options for upcoming playoff games.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms conclude the regular season on Sunday at 3:05 against the Charlotte Checkers in a season-ending Salute to the Fans as part of "Our Valley, Our Home" Day.

The Calder Cup Playoffs begin on Wednesday night with Game 1 at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Playoff Hockey returns to PPL Center on Friday night with Game 2 in the Best of 3 series.


2nd 6:19 - S. Poulin (16) (V. Puustinen, J. Joshua) (0-1)

3rd 3:34 - R. Zohorna (10) (V. Hinostroza, V. Puustinen) (0-2)


LV 21 - WBS 24


LV 0/2, WBS 0/4


LV - A. Kolosov (L) (22/24) (1-1-0)

WBS - L. Waeber (W) (21/21) (9-7-0)


Lehigh Valley (31-31-9)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (39-24-9)


Sunday, April 21 (3:05) vs. Charlotte Checkers - Our Valley, Our Home Day - End of Regular Season!

Wednesday, April 24 (7:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Game 1 - Calder Cup Playoffs

Friday, April 26 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Game 2 - Calder Cup Playoffs

Sunday, April 28 (5:05) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins - Game 3 - Calder Cup Playoffs

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