It’s “closing time” for hockey at the PPL Center arena in downtown Allentown. The final game of the inaugural season begins at 5:05PM this afternoon. Here’s what you need to know about today’s game:
The Phantoms return from Norfolk and Hershey for the final game of the season at the back-end of the final “3-in-3.”
Tuesday night at the PPL Center the Phantoms won their penultimate home tilt by a 4-1 tally behind goals from Laughton, Straka, Akeson, and newcomer Martel. The Martel strike was an open-net, but still a nice start for the Quebec junior scorer. Zepp got the win in net over Grubauer, who went on to have a nice start in Washington later in the week.
Friday night in Norfolk, the Phantoms were guests for the final home AHL game vs the Admirals. I thought it would be a difficult challenge, and it was. They lost 4-2 with Zepp again in goal. Cousins and Laughton had the Phantoms scores.
Last night in Hershey it was a somewhat wild affair as Coach Terry Murray got thrown out, as well as Stortini. The Phantoms lost to the Calder-tournament-bound and second seed Bears 5-1. It was a close game early on, but things got away from them as former Phantom Newbury was reportedly seen taking cheap shots at Stolie in the goal, behind the play. Hexy had the Lehigh Valley goal.
With a win this afternoon, the Phantoms would finish the season 34-34-7-1, 3rd place in the division and as high as tied for 11th place in the conference. They’ll finish about 10 points out of the playoffs. If they lose, it will be worse. It will be six seasons since the Phantoms joined the Calder Cup Playoff Tournament.
The attendance standings: The Phantoms are locked in to the fourth spot in league attendance. They out-drew the IronPigs head-to-head for the third time Tuesday night, and broke 300,000 for the season. Great job Phans!
D Matt Konan returned to the ice for the first time since December 2013, Friday night in Norfolk. Ironically, it was the site of the concussion that cost him so much time off the ice.
Rosey was a healthy scratch last night, while ManDog and Diesel remained injured from their mishaps Tuesday night at the PPL Center. Fyten, Jonsey and Powe were also out last night. I’m unsure of Jones, but I’m hoping Manning and Delisle will be able to return for the final game.
Stolie was in goal last night. I’d expect to see Zepper to today in the finale–especially with the Pens not resting players and a chance to possibly out-duel Murray one more time.
I’ve been pretty happy with the way the lines have been set up recently. Here’s what they had last night:
23 Leier 21 Laughton 10 Gordon
18 Martel 25 Cousins 38 Akeson
45 Stortini 9 Bardreau 16 Hextall
24 Straka 17 Goumas 29 Mathers
The pairings will depend on health for today, but last night:
4 Hagg 2 Alt
7 Lauridsen 8 Pettersson
6 Konan 41 Luukko
The Baby Pens come in having clinched their 13th straight Calder Cup Tournament birth. They are locked in to the fourth seed and will face Syracuse in the first round. Reports out of Wilkes-Barre have the Penguins not resting players or making any significant lineup changes. They won’t use their third “ATO” goalie, so we’ll probably see Murray as Zatkoff played last night. Rookie first-rounder Kasperi Kapanen was an injury scratch last night, although I’ve not read a report as to why, or if he’ll be along for the game today.
Puck Drop: 5:05PM
PreGame/Chickies: No idea. I’d try 2:30-3:00 for a table though.
Parking and Tickets: New meter rules have not taken effect yet, I’m told, and still aren’t checked on Sundays. Use a street spot if you can luck into one. This game has gone ‘SRO’ so I’d grab tickets before heading downtown if you don’t already have them. Parking is still available for pre-purchase in the Linden/Arena North garage as of this writing. VIP package sold out.
Promotion: In cooperation with Giant Food Stores, the Phantoms are hosting a canned-food drive to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. In exchange for bringing cans, you get….nothing. Plus it seems like Giant would already have cans to donate, but whatever. It’s a good cause and a good way to shot the Phantoms that they have the best phans around.
What To Watch
- Watch for my guy Pettersson to score on Murray. It’s what he does.
- Watch to see who’s in the lineup for the final game. Quotes I’ve read have the team kind of pumped to finish out at home and not “checking out” in any way.
- Watch young Danick Martel. Dude is small but skates like the wind, has no fear, and a knack for scoring. He’ll be in a great spot on the second line, I’d think.
- Watch for Kevin Goumas to play at top speed, as well. He’ll create mis-matches that way as the center-man on the fourth line, if those lines continue.
- Watch for coach Terry Murray to coach his butt off. He’s been mentioned as a possibility for the Flyers job which opened up this week.
- Watch for folks crowded around the ice at the end of the game. It’s been kind of a love-fest with this team, despite their inability to make the playoffs. There’s a lot of mutual respect there and I expect a spontaneous display at the end of the game. Good luck, ushers, getting us to leave… may as well just get started melting the ice
This probably should have been a topic all season long. Especially because the Reading Royals are the only team to make the playoffs from the Flyers system.
So if you want to get your playoff hockey fix, including seeing a few of the players who have been in Allentown this season, The Royals are currently tied 1-1 in their 5-game series with the Stingrays. They’ll be home Thursday, Saturday (7PM) and Sunday (5PM, if needed) this coming week. We should get out and support them! Hockey’s not over!
Thanks again to the folks who have been following along here. The number of web hits we get on hockey days is noticeable. For the off-season I’m planning a couple review posts mostly to do with the hockey experience at the PPL Center: A Season Ticket Holder-type post, A “Hockey Fans Want” post, and a “Suggestion Box” post. I’ll be asking for help–stay tuned here and on Facebook for news.
In the meantime, head on over to the Phan Nation Phan Club Facebook page here or bookmark their web site here to keep in touch during the off-season. There are some great guys and gals in charge and I expect them to get things all set up and organized so that they can hit the ground running come September/October 2015 for the 2015-2016 hockey season.
We likely won’t get an AHL schedule for the next season until mid-way through August, as several of the arenas have to wait until the NBA schedule comes out. We should start to hear some roster-related news in June or July, though, I’d think. Although, the final roster won’t be released until just before the season.
See you at the arena to day for hockey, and in the future for SteelHawks Football,
And of course, at the ballpark for IronPigs,