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News and notes to get you ready for tonight’s game at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, as the visiting Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins face off against YOUR Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
It’s not really the second-to-last of anything: Tonight is the first-ever visit for our rival, and closest neighbor, as the Baby Pens come to town. They sport a 4-4 record versus the Phantoms’ 4-2–tied in points for second place in the division behind Hershey. The Phantoms won the opener in Wilkes Barre on October 11, leading the 12-game season series 1-0.
Roster in Flux:
Just prior to the game last Friday night, we learned that Shayne Gostisbehere had been called to Philadelphia to help solidify their ailing blue line. Here’s more on Gostisbehere with the Flyers. Last night he received very little ice time during critical periods of the Flyers game as some reports had him gambling too much early on. And, remember, there were reports out of the Flyers’ locker room that Mark Alt already had a locker set up for a call after Friday’s Phantoms game. Sheesh. Personally, I’m just hoping they make a decision on where the Ghost is going to be, so that I know whether to purchase a ’14’ sweater or a ’53.’ Meanwhile, poor Alt. See below.
Also prior to Friday’s game, we learned of an unknown upper-body injury to F Brett Hextall. He missed the whole weekend, and is expected to be an injury scratch tonight as well. F Petr Straka missed Saturday and Sunday with a knee injury, but is expected to return tonight. Defensman Mark Alt has a pretty significant shoulder injury, we hear, and is out indefinitely. Finally, Jay Rosehill began a three-game suspension on Sunday (for an un-penalized check to the head, presumably). Defenseman (#3) Brett Flemming and Forwards (#18) Matt Hatch and (#29) Derek Mathers were all recalled from the Reading Royals for Sunday’s game in Hershey.
Here are the lines and pairings from last Sunday–we’ll update as information flows forth concerning lines for tonight’s game. With Straka’s imminent return, you can probably push either Hatch or Mathers into healthy scratch territory. Straka is often listed as a RW, but I seem to recall seeing him on the left the other night–we’ll have to wait and see, I guess. We’ll update as more information becomes available:
23 Leier – 21 Laughton – 10 Gordon
36 Powe – 25 Cousins – 19 Alderson
11 Fyten – 12 Johnston – 45 Stortini
18 Hatch – 17 Goumas – 29 Mathers
28 Manning – 8 Pettersson
7 Lauridsen – 3 Flemming
4 Hagg – 5 Delisle
Rob Zepp still has a “Presence” about him, having gone 4-0 on this young season. “Stoly the Goalie” has played well too, despite the 0-2 record. That’s the Way: the young Stolarz leads Zepp in GAA (2.54 to 2.67) as well as save percentage (.922 to .913) It’s a small sample, and Stolarz has been relegated to road starts Over the Hills and Far Away. Zepp should be in the goal tonight, giving No Quarter. But, Hey Hey What Can I Do? I’m looking forward to seeing Stolarz play at home in the future.
First Three-in-Three in the Books:
An exciting game last Friday at the “PeoPLe” center had the Hamilton Street Bullies come from behind to defeat the first-place Hershey Bears. On Saturday, the Phantoms were in Binghamton, NY, where they defeated the Senators 5-4 in OT (pay no mind to the 15-second collapse at the end of regulation…). Sunday late afternoon in Hershey, the long weekend and personnel changes seemed to catch up with them in the 3-0 shutout loss to the first-place Bears. The next 3/3 looks to be December 5-7. Still, 2-1 on the weekend with all division games is a fine outcome at this juncture.
As per usual: TV on Service Electric 2 (and HD version: 502?), Radio via 1470AM and IHeartRadio version. In the arena: FM 89.9. Technical difficulties on the recent road trip lead them to use AM 790 WAEB and 790WAEB.com. That was supposed to be a one-time thing, but if you’re having trouble finding the game, check those stations out.
Bring Me Crabs:
I just couldn’t write, “Give me…”
However, sources from within Chickie’s and Pete’s have told us the steamer hood has been installed and should be inspected in time for pre-game seafood Wednesday night. I might not be early enough to check on it personally, but just wanted to get the word out.
What happened to Dax?
They built a whole back-story for meLVin, but never quite explained what happened to Dax–that lovable beaver. Turns out he’s inside meLVin. No, meLVin didn’t eat him. Same dude plays both. He’s been doing great so far–mostly positive reviews for meLVin.
meLVin ice bowling
The Baby Pens have a fan blog, and it’s really good coverage. Find it here. It’s run by a guy named Jason, and he should be in town tonight for the game. Follow him on twitter here.
This will be the first regular-season home game for our Phantoms on a Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see what kind of attendance we get for this mid-week game. This is also the last game in October, as the Phantoms will have played 3 home and 4 away in their first regular-season month. November will be the busiest month for hockey at the PeoPLe Center, with 7 home games. They’ll also have 5 games on the road in the 12-game month.
PPL Power Play:
The Phantoms are 1st in the conference and 2nd overall (OKC) in power play percentage. They’re 8/27 or 29.6%. They’re also 3rd in the conference and 6th overall in scoring in the AHL.
“Hamilton Street Bullies”
I used the phrase a couple paragraphs above, but it’s not mine. I’ve seen it several places on Twitter and Facebook. Here’s the thing, though. I don’t think we’ve lost a fight yet. I don’t presume to know if that really means anything for hockey, at the end of the day, but I do know this: It fires up the crowd and it fires up the team. After Diesel (Delisle) dropped ‘em in the third period last Friday night, down 2-1 and the team having played a pretty uninspired second period, the crowd and the team came alive. The Phantoms won going away. With Stortini and Rosey (I mean, when they’re not suspended or in the box…) around we’re not going to lose many of those fights. Here’s hoping it translates into wins and Power Plays for the good guys.
I picked up a program at the last game (for $2…) and it’s quite nicely done. Our friends at Nacci Printing, of course. Of note is that like at the IronPigs the program won’t change with every game. Check the date before you pay for another one!
There are a couple college basketball games coming up, and I’d encourage you to check them out. Kram III and I had a great time at the 76ers exhibition; they do a nice job with it. Neil Diamond has already sold-out one show, and has added another for March 1. Finally, Disney on Ice will be coming for a bunch of shows in January–including matinees. My kiddos are a little old for that, but the reviews of the show still make me want to check it out: It sounds like it’s really good.
The Cheap Seats:
Pocket schedules are about–we picked up a couple at the arena on Friday, and I imagine they may be available at area businesses as well. Perhaps they were out before–but it is the first I’d seen them. Really handy, despite the fact that I have the entire schedule loaded into my daily calendar on my phone. Plus, there’s a nice coupon from our friends at Philly Pretzel in there, too. Anyway, I also noticed this:
$10 tickets! That sounds great! But where?!? And, how?!?
It’s the group rate for section 201. Still, not horrible seats, and with but an “order charge” it does allow you to bypass a bit of the single-game ticket fees. How about we get a “Noise Nation” section going for a game? Who’s in? (Just throwing it out there…) You need at least 15 to make a “group.” Bells are allowed. Nay, encouraged.
Parking and Tailgating:
Really nothing to add on the parking front. Everything’s been running pretty smoothly as far as I’ve heard. I did hear that they’re routing folks out and back in through the Air Products gate (7th Street) rather than directly to the concourse via elevator from the Linden Street/arena parking garage. I’m not sure how that impacts accessible parking in that facility–it sure doesn’t sound easier, but perhaps they’ve made allowances for that?
As you probably know, they really want us visiting the downtown establishments for our para-event food and beverage. Hence, tailgating is verboten in the city-owned lots and garages. However, that didn’t stop these two bozos:
photo source unknown
See you at the arena,