Tuesday, April 3 (7:00 p.m.) - Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Charlotte Checkers
Wednesday, April 4 (7:00 p.m.) - Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Charlotte Checkers
Saturday, April 7 (7:00 p.m.) - Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Hartford Wolf Pack
Sunday, April 8 (3:05 p.m.) - Lehigh Valley Phantoms @ Providence Bruins
With points in eight of their last nine games (6-1-2) and wins in 17 of their last 23 outings overall (17-3-3), the red-hot Lehigh Valley Phantoms (44-17-4-5, 97 pts., 0.693 pts. pct., 1st Atlantic Division) face a busy week this week as the team hits the road for its final four road games of the season. The Phantoms have already clinched a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs (12th postseason appearance in franchise history) while the team's magic number to secure the regular season Atlantic Division title sits at just six standings points.
The Phantoms are looking to secure their first Atlantic Division Championship since arriving in the Lehigh Valley and the team's first since regular season division title since the Philadelphia Phantoms claimed the East Division during the 2003-04 campaign.
Lehigh Valley returns to action this Tuesday, April 3 and Wednesday, April 4 when the team invades Bojangles' Coliseum for a two-game series against the Charlotte Checkers. Charlotte (40-26-1-3, 84 pts., 0.600 pts. pct., 4th Atlantic Division) split a pair of games last weekend and enters the week having won five of its last seven outings overall (5-1-1). After a 4-3 overtime loss at the Rochester Americans last Friday, the Checkers responded with a 4-1 victory at the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday.
Entering the week, Charlotte's magic number to secure a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs sits at just six standings points.
Tuesday and Wednesday's meetings will be the final two collisions during the 2017-18 regular season between the Phantoms and Checkers with Lehigh Valley having posted a 4-2 mark in the season series to date. The Phantoms split a two-game set in Charlotte earlier this season (6-3 win on December 12, 5-2 loss on December 13) while Checkers' forward Andrew Miller currently leads all scorers in the season series with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists). Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley's Greg Carey (3 goals, 3 assists) and Phil Varone (goal, 5 assists) have paced the Phantoms with six points each.
Lehigh Valley then continues its travels this week on Saturday, April 7 with a stop in Hartford for a 7:00 p.m. showdown against the Wolf Pack. Hartford (31-31-6-3, 71 pts., 0.500, 6th Atlantic Division) claimed three of a possible six points across a trio of games last week and enters this week having posted a strong 5-2-1 mark over its last eight games. Following a 4-3 shootout victory over the Springfield Thunderbirds last Wednesday, the Wolf Pack were handed a 4-3 overtime loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday before suffering a 5-1 setback to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday.
Saturday's game will mark the sixth and final meeting this season between Lehigh Valley and Hartford with the Wolf Pack having claimed each of the first five head-to-head showdowns. All five games in the season series to date have been one-goal games, including one overtime decision and three tilts ending in a shootout. Wolf Pack forward Adam Tambellini currently leads all scorers in the season series with five points (3 goals, 2 assists) while Danick Martel (2 goals, 2 assists) and Phil Varone (goal, 3 assists) have paced the Phantoms with four points each against Hartford.
Lehigh Valley then caps this week's action on Sunday, April 8 when the team invades the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence for a 3:05 p.m. clash with the Bruins. Providence (41-23-3-2, 87 pts., 0.630 pts. pct., 3rd Atlantic Division) earned just one win in three tries last week but entered this week having claimed four of its last six outings overall. After a 5-2 loss at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday and a 2-0 shutout in Lehigh Valley on Friday, the Bruins rebounded with a 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Saturday.
Entering the week, Providence's magic number to clinch a berth in the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs sits at just four standings points.
This Sunday's collision will be the sixth and final meeting of the 2017-18 regular season between the Phantoms and Bruins with Lehigh Valley having posted a 3-1-1 mark against Providence. The Phantoms claimed the most recent get-together with a 2-0 win at PPL Center last Friday but were handed a pair of losses in Providence earlier this month (5-4 (OT) on March 23, 6-1 on March 24). Bruins' forward Kenny Agostino currently leads all scorers in the season series with six points (goal, 5 assists) while Colin McDonald has paced Lehigh Valley's efforts with four points (all assists) against Providence.
Phantoms By The Numbers
Forward Phil Varone continues to lead all Phantoms and all AHL skaters in total scoring with 67 total points (21 goals, 46 assists). He's established new career highs in goals (21), assists (46) and points (67) this season and has registered at least one point in 46 of 69 games this year. Recently, Varone has tallied 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) across his last 10 games.
Forward Greg Carey enters the week leading all Phantoms and is tied for second among all AHLers with 30 goals scored this season. He found the back of the net in both games last weekend and in so doing became the first Phantoms player to score 30 goals in a season since Jon Matsumoto with the Adirondack Phantoms during the 2009-10 campaign.
Defenseman T.J. Brennan (right) enters the week as one of just five AHL blueliners to have tallied 40 or more points this season. The five-time All-Star enters the week fifth among all defenders having notched 43 points (13 goals, 30 assists) across 58 games this year.
Goaltender Dustin Tokarski has been rock solid between the pipes over the last couple of months having posted an 8-2-2 record across his last 12 appearances to go along with four shutouts, a stingy 1.87 goals-against average and jaw-dropping 0.939 save percentage. Tokarski is currently tied for third among all AHL netminders with five shutouts this season.
Lehigh Valley is 40-1-5 when scoring three or more goals this season and is 38-5-4 when allowing three goals against or fewer.
The Phantoms enter the week as the highest-scoring team in the AHL averaging an impressive 3.47 goals per game. Over the team's last 23 games (17-3-3), Lehigh Valley has outscored its opposition 87-52. The Phantoms lead all AHL clubs having tallied an impressive 243 total goals this year.
The Phantoms are 25-6-5 at PPL Center this season and have outscored their opposition 133-95 in 36 games in downtown Allentown. What's more, Lehigh Valley has collected standings points in 17 of its last 17 home games having produced an impressive 15-1-2 mark at PPL Center since January 13. Meanwhile, the Phantoms are 19-11-4 on the road this season.
Friday, March 30: Providence Bruins 0 - Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2
Dustin Tokarski turned aside all 22 Providence shots he faced and Greg Carey netted his 29th goal of the season as the Phantoms blanked the Bruins 2-0 in front of 7,383 fans inside PPL Center. The shutout was Lehigh Valley's fourth in the month of March and the team's third straight clean sheet in downtown Allentown. Meanwhile, it was Tokarski's fifth shutout this season as the 28-year-old netminder earned his 18th victory of the season.
T.J. Brennan (13th) rounded out the scoring for the Phantoms who earned their 16th win over the team's last 22 games (16-3-3).
Saturday, March 31: Belleville Senators 2 - Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4
Greg Carey scored his team-leading 30th goal of the season and Mike Vecchione added a goal and an assist as the Phantoms claimed a 4-2 victory over the visiting Belleville Senators in front of 8,621 fans inside PPL Center. Cole Bardreau (10th) and Colin McDonald (6th) rounded out the scoring for Lehigh Valley in front of goaltender Dustin Tokarski who earned his 19th win of the season after 27 saves on 29 shots.
Saturday's victory extended the Phantoms' home winning streak to five straight games as Lehigh Valley has now garnered standings points in 17 of its last 18 home games (15-1-2). Saturday's game was also the team's 14th standing room-only sellout this year.
Service Electric's TV2 Sports will be broadcasting live each of the Phantoms' two remaining regular season home games on Friday, April 13 and Saturday, April 14. If you can't make it out to the rink, be sure to catch all the exciting action live in HD quality with Steve Degler, Todd Fedoruk, Doug Heater and Kristi Fulkerson! Pre-game coverage begins with "Phantoms Front and Center" 30 minutes before puck drop.
Be sure to also catch each and every Phantoms game this season live on 1470-AM WSAN, 790-AM WAEB or via the iHeartRadio app and Phantoms365 app! Join Voice of the Phantoms, Bob Rotruck, for all of the heart-pumping action of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey whether the team is at home or on the road. "Countdown to Faceoff" begins 45 minutes prior to puck drop.
Tickets for each and every Phantoms home game throughout the 2017-18 season are available online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX  or in-person at the QNB Box Office [7th & Hamilton].
And for the latest Phantoms news, visit www.phantomshockey.com or follow the team on Facebook ( www.facebook.com/lehighvalleyphantoms), Twitter ( @lvphantoms), Instagram ( @lehighvalleyphantoms) and Snapchat (lvphantoms).
The Phantoms are coming off an incredibly successful third campaign in the Lehigh Valley playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center in which the team posted its highest win total (48) and highest standings point total (101) in more than a decade. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 21 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs 11 times and have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).
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American Hockey League Stories from April 3, 2018
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