Phantoms Weekly News
Coming off a dramatic 5-2 victory last Saturday over the Hershey Bears in the 2018 Capital BlueCross Outdoor Classic, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (24-13-2-3, 53 pts., 0.631 pts. pct., 3rd Atlantic Division) are back in action for three games this week - all of which will take place at PPL Center in downtown Allentown. The Phantoms enter the week with the most standings points (53) and tied for the most wins (24) in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division.
Lehigh Valley returns to action this Wednesday, January 24 as the Phantoms welcome the Providence Bruins to PPL Center for the first time this season . Providence (24-13-3-1, 52 pts., 0.634 pts. pct., 2nd Atlantic Division) claimed two of three games last weekend earning a 1-0 shutout over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday before grabbing a 2-0 decision over the Springfield Thunderbirds on Sunday. In between, the Bruins were handed a 3-2 setback at the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday. Despite last weekend's success, Providence enters the week having dropped five of its last seven outings overall (2-4-1).
Wednesday's contest marks the first of six total meetings during the 2017-18 regular season between the Phantoms and Bruins. After Wednesday's clash, the two Atlantic Division foes won't meet again until a March 17th showdown that kicks off five head-to-head collisions across a 23-day span. Lehigh Valley went 4-2 in six meetings with Providence last season.
Wednesday's game also features Post-Game Photos with Phantoms Players where fans are encouraged to stick around after the game to get their picture taken with their favorite Phantoms on the ice at PPL Center.
Lehigh Valley then faces a far more familiar opponent on Friday, January 26 when the Phantoms host the rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at PPL Center. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (24-11-3-1, 52 pts., 0.667 pts. pct., 1st Atlantic Division) earned one win in three tries last week and was blanked in back-to-back 1-0 decisions to Providence and the Hartford Wolf Pack on Friday and Sunday, respectively. The two setbacks come on the heels of an eight-game winning streak for the Penguins.
Friday's game is the ninth of 12 total meetings this season between Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Phantoms having posted a 4-3-1 record against the Penguins. Lehigh Valley is 2-0-1 against its in-state rivals in downtown Allentown this season and enters Friday's collision having claimed three of the last four meetings in the season series. Four different players lead the season series in scoring with eight points each, including Lehigh Valley's Chris Conner and Corban Knight along with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Ryan Haggerty and Jean-Sebastien Dea.
The Phantoms then cap this week's action on Saturday, January 27 when they host the Utica Comets, AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, at PPL Center for the first and only time this season. Utica (20-14-5-3, 48 pts., 0.571 pts. pct., 4th North Division) claimed five of a possible six standings points across three games last week and enters the week in the midst of a five-game point streak (4-0-1). The Comets earned a 3-2 shootout victory over the Rochester Americans last Wednesday before a 3-2 overtime loss at Hartford on Friday followed by a 4-2 regulation win against the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday. All told, Utica has won seven of its last 10 games and has claimed 16 of a possible 20 standings points during its recent surge (7-1-1-1).
Saturday's game marks the first of just two meetings during the 2017-18 regular season between the Phantoms and Comets with the two sides set to cap their season series on Wednesday, February 21 in Utica. Lehigh Valley went a perfect 4-0 against Utica last season.
Saturday's game is the Phantoms' highly-anticipated Star Wars Night featuring a special appearance by the 501st Legion along with a Mini Lightsaber Giveaway free to the first 2,000 kids 14 and under in attendance.
Phantoms By The Numbers: Forward Phil Varone enters the week leading all Phantoms and is tied for the league lead in scoring with 42 total points (11 goals, 31 assists). Third among all AHLers with 31 assists, Varone has recorded 10 multi-point outings this season.
Forward Oskar Lindblom was added last week to the Atlantic Division roster for the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic. He's currently tied for second among all Phantoms and tied for seventh among all AHL rookies in scoring with 28 total points (12 goals, 16 assists).
Varone, Lindblom and Nic Aube-Kubel (right) enter the week as the only Phantoms to have appeared in each of the team's 42 games to date. Aube-Kubel is currently eighth among all Lehigh Valley skaters in scoring with 24 total points (11 goals, 13 assists).
Defenseman T.J. Brennan enters the week leading all Lehigh Valley defenders and third among all AHL blueliners in scoring with 28 points (8 goals, 20 assists). The All-Star defenseman is currently riding a four-game point streak (January 13 - present) (3 goals, 2 assists) and has tallied 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) over his last 10 games.
Lehigh Valley is 22-1-2-1 when scoring three or more goals this season and is 20-2-0-2 when allowing three goals against or fewer.
The Phantoms are currently tied for second in the AHL with 12 one-goal wins this season. Lehigh Valley is an impressive 12-1-2-3 in games decided by just a single goal this year.
With Saturday's victory in Hershey, the Phantoms improved to 13-3-1-1 when scoring first this season.
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American Hockey League Stories from January 24, 2018
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