Hockey Night In Allentown: “Wild Dogs in the Night”

“Woke last night
To a terrible sound
Four A.M.
It was the baying of hounds”

–James Young (1985, “Wild Dogs in the Night”)

Leier Photo: (c) Jack Mitroka

Photo: (c) Jack Mitroka

Welcome Back

We had our fun with the Flyers exhibition–and I have to say it was more fun than the intra-squad scrimmage of last season.  But now it’s time for a look at our new squad, as they face off against a Pack of Wolves from Hartford.  Wild Dogs in the Night at the PPL Center!

The Phantoms opened their pre-season slate at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre PA versus the Baby Pens on Wednesday; many Phantoms Phans were in the house as the Phantoms fell 4-3.  Taylor Leier had one of the goals and Stoli had a solid game in the net despite the goals as the Baby Pens out-shot the Phantoms 40-26.


Team Report

A couple days ago, the Phantoms sent a few players to the Reading Royals roster–no surprises with forwards Geoff Walker, Cam Reid and Robert Czarnik in the mix with defencemen Adam Comrie and Sam Windle.

Goaltenders Knapp and Ouellette are still with the Phantoms; one will head back to Reading and one will stick around until LaBarbera returns from Philly.  He’ll be there, until Neuvirth is healthy.

Look for some of the bubble guys to get plenty of ice time tonight to see who sticks and who heads to the Royals.  A move is still needed in Philly–it could be a trade or it could be Scotty Laughts coming back.  Word is, Manning’s spot is secure.

Fan Stuff

Season ticket holders with accounts paid or on auto-pay may begin picking up season ticket books during tonight’s game–as well as tomorrow.  First half of alphabet early in game, second half after the first intermission.  It reverses tomorrow.  If you’re not getting to the game, or forget, they’ll  have office time this week when they can be picked up.

Phan Nation T-Shirts are in, and can be picked up at Chickie’s prior to the game.  Please make arrangements with the Phan Nation folks prior to the game.

There’s a rumor of something special happening at the “Breaking the Ice” broadcast on Monday evening.  Stay tuned for more information–if none is forthcoming, the recommendation is to show up over at Chickie’s and Pete’s to watch the show.


Tonight’s Game

Puck Drop:


Doors Open:

4:00PM–expect lines for security.  Have your pockets empty and your hat off.

Tickets and Parking:

Good seats are still available through  Prices are $12.50 – $15.50 before fees and parking.

You can pre-purchase parking in the arena deck through (while available) or at the Spiral or Trans Center via

Broadcast Information:

The game will be televised on Service Electric TV-2 as per usual, with pre-game from Chickie’s and Pete’s at 4:30PM

Radio on AM-1470 with pre-game at 4:20PM–also available online via the Phantoms web or IHeartRadio.  In the arena listen to FM-89.9 for live call in real time with the game.


None that I know of–but it’s an early evening game at a good price if you wanna bring the kiddos or first-timers.

Pregame Meal:

Last time out we dined at Shula’s.  Top notch!  It’s a “big city” steakhouse, though, like Morton’s or Del Frisco’s or Ruth’s Chris or any of those.  If you don’t know what that means, it means order your steak (or entree) and everything else is a la carte–salads, appetizers, family-style sides, etc.  And, it’s expensive.  But it’s really, really good steak.  And good service, too.  We were warmly welcomed with our hockey attire.

Tonight, I recommend getting downtown between before 3:00PM to get a seat at Chickie’s.


What To Watch

  • Watch the Blue Line:  Our highly-regarded defenders will be key to our success this season.
  • Watch the scorers:  Reliable scoring will be important, too, of course.  Look for second-year guys like Leier and Straka to take the next step.
  • Watch for new sweaters.  It’s not unusual for hockey teams to change it up slightly each year, and many of the old ones were auctioned off anyway.  It seemed to be new, black, “away” sweaters in Wilkes Barre Wednesday night.  Warm up sweaters?  New home threads?  I can’t wait to see.
  • We’ll have more roster observations in tomorrow’s post, but pay close attention to ice time and performance by some of the new guys–and who gets the time in the goal.

Up Next

We’re back at it tomorrow:  Same Phantom Time/Same Phantom Channel as the Baby Pens come to town for another preseason tilt–and the final tune-up before the regular season.


See you at the arena,



Categories: Kram's Korner - From the Club Level, Phantoms Hockey


4 replies

  1. The 5:00 starts will be a pain to many… esp. in the restaurant biz… most of them are thinking, people want dinner at 3:00? Really??

    • I imagine the restaurants are hoping that people will want to wait to have dinner until after the game is over (which, barring overtime / shootout), which would be around 7:30 – 8:00.

      On the surface, dinner at 7:30 – 8:00 pm is not so unthinkable. But, then again, the restaurant is praying that people do not stuff their face with food from the concession stands inside the PPL Center, thereby ruining their appetites for a late dinner. On the other hand, the Phantoms want you to spend a small fortune at the concession stands.

      So there is a bit of a conflict of interests there, no question.

  2. Petr Straka is entering his third season as a pro :

    2013/14 … Adirondack ……. 60 ga ….. 9 go … 27 pts … 22 pen ….. – 4 def
    2014/15 … Lehigh Valley … 68 ga … 14 go … 24 pts … 26 pen … – 20 def

    The overriding point is the same, however, in that Straka must take the next step this season. There is little doubt that this year is the Czech import’s last chance with the Philadelphia Flyers organization. There are times when the former 2nd round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets looks to be a first line player for sure (here in the AHL, that is) and then there are times when the 23-year-old disappears from the game completely. Inconsistency — and a lack of due diligence in his own end of the rink — are Straka’s two greatest enemies.

    Another season of only 24 points and a horrifying – 20 defensive rating just will not do.

  3. Note To Kram

    Re : Impressions of Hartford Wolf Pack vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms

    # 1 – Hartford’s margin of victory would have been much wider if not for the play of Anthony Stolarz. Several spectacular stops including one right at the end of the first period and the proverbial save of the night in the middle of the second period when the game was still scoreless. I’m not sure if I would have picked Wolf Pack goalie Jeff Malcolm (the former NCAA national champion with Yale) as the game’s first star but I would have been inclined to make Stolarz the game’s second star

    # 2 – I’m not sure if the Phantoms should be using the high risk, high reward “Umbrella” power play, a system first used by the Czechoslovakia national team in the 1960s. Even if your team has the most skillful players in the world, it is still a very difficult system to make work because of the fact that there is only one player covering the entire blue line. Yes, the umbrella is very dangerous because it can create some serious mismatches and high percentage scoring chances down low. But, as we saw quite often on Saturday night, it really isn’t all that difficult for the defense to clear the puck out of the zone, particularly along the boards. I definitely applaud the new Phantoms coach Gordon for his ambition. The fact that Gordon wants to use the umbrella is a clear indication that the new coach wants to stimulate the attack and that is a very good thing. It’s just that, again, the umbrella power play is a very demanding system and perhaps a bit more pragmatism is in order.

    # 3 – Hartford came out for the third period clearly bent on stamping their authority on the game. It was almost as if the Wolf Pack were saying, “Hey, this is our house, not yours.” I was genuinely surprised that listless Lehigh Valley were not the ones with more energy.

    # 4 – It’s a little concerning to think that the Hartford Wolf Pack were missing several of their “high end” players, certainly more so than the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were. Hartford were without veteran forwards Ryan Bourque, Matt Lindblad, and Luke Adam as well as offensive defenseman Mat Bodie and Brady Skjei, the touted rookie defenseman from the University of Minnesota who was the 1st round pick of the New York Rangers at the 2010 NHL Draft. The Wolf Pack also did not use any of their three goaltenders with NHL experience — the Swede Magnus Hellberg, Cedrick Desjardins, Mackenzie Skapski (injured); Malcolm is almost certainly ticketed for the ECHL affiliate.

    # 5 – It is rather interesting to note that all three of Hartford’s goals were scored by European imports — defenseman Petr Zamorsky comes from the Czech Republic, defenseman Calle Andersson arrives via Sweden and forward Marek Hrivik hails from Slovakia.

    # 6 – Phantoms enforcer Jay Rosehill is in regular season form already — the roughing penalty taken in the offensive zone was rather unnecessary but, hey, unnecessary penalties are what Rosehill does best!

    # 7 – Nice to see Shayne Gostisbehere give the Hartford guy a good old fashioned hip check. It really is a lost art but Ghost really has shown the ability to line people up correctly before, too, and that’s great. It’s a legal tactic and its devastatingly effective … Good to see Ghost using his Denis Savard-style spin-o-rama moves again, too — this is a clear indication that the knee is truly healthy and ready to romp.

    # 8 – I heard several fans grumbling about the fact that the Phantoms did not fight yesterday. There is a time and a place for fighting in North American pro hockey. And that time and place would have been at the beginning of the third period. A good scrap really might have helped light a fire under the Lehigh Valley team at a critical juncture when the game was still up for grabs. On the other hand, if the other team really is unwilling to drop the gloves and go then there is nothing you can do except take a two-minute penalty for instigation / roughing. I think Rosehill was trying to pick a fight and the Wolf Pack guy would not oblige. That happens sometimes. I don’t fault Rosehill for trying but the 30-year-old NHL veteran has to be smart enough to know when to back off and not incur the wrath of the referee. The Phantoms were able to kill off Rosehill’s penalty, it will be noted for the record.

    # 9 – I enjoyed my field trip to the Phantoms box office on Saturday afternoon. I told the ticket window guy what section I wanted and he gave me one final price – which is all I really want. I don’t want to know about all the assorted fees, etc. Please just give me the bottom line and then I, the consumer, will decide what I want to do … I got a single ticket in section 203 for both games on Saturday and Sunday. Fourteen bucks each, everything included. Kudos to the Phantoms organization, then. Go ahead and chop that ticket price a bit because it is a preseason game. Give people an extra incentive to want to come down to the rink. Good work here, no question about that.

    # 10 – Hockey is a good game, I’m glad it’s that time of the year again.

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