This time it counts. Welcome to the 2015-15 Phantoms season! Here’s what you need to know for tonight’s season opener.
“..So look at me now, I’m just makin’ my play
Don’t try to push your luck, just get out of my way
Cause I’m BACK..”
The Phantoms wrapped up their pre-season slate last Sunday with a 4-3 win versus the Baby Pens’ “B-Team” at the PPL Center. Still, it was good to see them get a win, and a fine performance by LaBarbera in net, from what I could observe. But, tonight they count for reals, and given the potential for flux in the Flyers’ roster this season, I think it’s important for the Phantoms to get off to a strong start if they wish to reach the playoffs.
Coach Gordon, though, has cautioned that some of the new “systems” being installed may take some time for the players to become fully accustomed to.
Regardless–tonight, we “Rise Up” for real!
Here’s a quick roster, with numbers:
13 Colin McDonald (F)
16 Palushaj (Pah-LOU-shay)
26 Lashoff (PTO)
30 LaBarbera (La-BAR-bra)
39 Pyett (inj)
47 Andrew MacDonald (D)
23 Leier – 37 Brent – 16 Palushaj
18 Martel – 25 Cousins – 13 Colin McD
24 Straka – 9 Bardreau – 22 Conner
12 Goulbourne – 27 Padakin – 38 Rosehill – (15 Parks)
14 Gostisbehere – 47 A-Mac
3 Morin – 2 Alt
5 Drewskie – 4 Hagg
(26 Lashoff – 8 Pettersson)
30 LaBarbara (41 Stolarz)
**Quick note: despite practice lines, the Phantoms may be limited by veteran roster restrictions. I wrote about it yesterday…Look for Rosie to be a possible scratch, thereof.
Colin McDonald has been named ‘Captain’ and wear the C, while Tim Brent, Davis Drewiske, and Andrew MacDonald will wear the A’s. That makes McDonald the first ‘C’ in the history of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms incarnation!
Down in Reading, the ECHL club also has a game tonight. It’s their home pre-season game, and it’s free! And the Gin Blossoms will be there!
There are a lot of familiar names with the Royals this season–guys I’m sure we’ll see here as the season rolls on. Guys we know, like Martin Ouellette, Adam Comrie, Kevin Goumas, Derek Mathers, and Nick Luukko.
Really cool stuff, but of course, we’re busy because it’s…
5:30PM –Just for opening day; or for Saturdays? Nevermind. Good to see, to alleviate security crush for no other reason!
Tickets and Parking:
Good seats are still available via PPLCenter.com or at the box office. Pre-paid parking is still available (as of this writing) for the PPL Center Arena Deck (Linden) as well as through AllentownEventParking.com for the ATC and Spiral Decks. Remember that the meters are now checked until 10PM and may not be a suitable option for hockey games.
Updated Parking Column, HERE.
Updated PPL Center FAQ Column, HERE.
Radio: AM-1470 (FM 89.9 in the arena)
Internet: IHeartRadio App, or via the Phantomshockey.com web site for audio. AHL-Live (pay) package for video.
6:20PM Radio PreGame with Bob Rotruck
6:30PM TV pregame, live from Chickie’s and Pete’s, with Degler, Heater, and Fulkerson.
4:30PM Chickie’s and Pete’s to assure a table for pre-game meal–but 5:30PM door might also alleviate crush for last-minute seating. Let’s see how it goes.
Pre-game Restaurant Review:
We did pregame at Chickie’s on Sunday. As per usual last season, the service was good, and there were some beer specials for the football games. The Buffalo wings were better than I had remembered, and there were some specials added to the menu. I didn’t check the menu before I ordered, so I’m not sure about any changes for this season. We’ll check again soon, I’m sure.
First 8,500 receive a rally towel. Orange? I hope. There have been “opening night” T-Shirts spotted; perhaps they’ll be throwing them into the stands….
The Syracuse Crunch are the AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning….
Last season, the Syracuse Crunch finished fifth overall in the fifteen-team Eastern Conference before being swept in the first round of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup playoffs by the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Along the way, though, the Crunch comfortably defeated the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4-2 in upstate New York late last January and then completely smashed their gracious hosts 6-1 at the luxurious PPL Center in bustling downtown Allentown this past spring. The bad news for hockey fans here in the city that made singer Billy Joel famous is that the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top farm club return five of their six leading scorers from last season plus their top four defensemen and their regular goaltender from last term, as well.SYRACUSE CRUNCH PLAYERS TO WATCH :The Danger Man — # 18 – Jonathan MARCHESSAULT … ($ 150,000 AHL) … After registering 67 points (24 goals) in 68 games for Syracuse last season, the undersized winger (5’9″ 177 lbs) ended up as the fourth-leading scorer in the entire 30-team American Hockey League. The 24-year-old native of Quebec has never scored less than 21 AHL goals in each of his four seasons as a professional and also happens to be an excellent playmaker with the puck, too. Marchessault, who skated in a pair of NHL regular season games (1 go, 2 pts) as well as two Stanley Cup playoff contests (0 go, 0 pts) for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2014/15 campaign, had two goals (including one shorthanded) for Syracuse against the Phantoms at the PPL Center late last March..The # 1 Goaltender — # 50 – Kristers GUDLEVSKIS … ($ 65,000 AHL) … Entering just his third full season as a professional here in North America after arriving from Dynamo Riga, the 5th round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2013 NHL Draft already has appeared in no less than 80 AHL regular season games (2.75 avg, .901 svpct) on behalf of the Crunch. The 23-year-old member of Latvia’s 2014 Olympic team missed out on the chance to claim the backup job in Tampa Bay this fall after the Lightning claimed Kevin Poulin (whom the New York Islanders were trying to send to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers) off of NHL Waivers. Gudlevskis, who made two appearances for Tampa Bay during the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs after playing in just one game during the 2013/14 NHL regular season, spent all of last season with the Crunch (46 ga, 2.81 avg, .900 svpct) and turned aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced against the Phantoms at the PPL Center late last March..The Hard-Nosed Captain — # 10 – Mike ANGELIDIS … ($ 200,000 AHL) … Coming off of a season that saw the 30-year-old veteran Canadian equal a career best by scoring twenty goals at the AHL level, the 215-pound is certain to make his presence known along the boards and in front of the net against the Phantoms. Angelidis has skated in 10 NHL games (1 go, 0 as, 17 pen, -1 def) for the Tampa Bay Lightning in parts of three seasons over the past four years but really earns his keep by riding the minor league buses. Angelidis, who will be serving as the captain of the Syracuse Crunch for the fourth consecutive year, has appeared in 579 AHL games over the course of his career (119 go, 245 pts, 1217 pen, + 22 def) and definitely knows his way to the penalty box..The Former Phantoms Player — # 16 – Tye MCGINN … ($ 200,000 AHL) … Signed to a two-way contract by the Tampa Bay organization this summer after spending all of last season in the vaunted National Hockey League by dividing his time with the San Jose Sharks (33 ga, 1 go, 5 pts, 11 pen, + 1 def) and the Arizona Coyotes (18 ga, 1 go, 2 pts, 10 pen, – 1 def), McGinn was once considered a top prospect in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. The now 24-year-old left wing with good size (6’2″ 205 lbs) scored a respectable seven goals in 36 NHL games (10 pts, 23 pen, – 1 def) over parts of two seasons for the Flyers before being traded to the San Jose Sharks in July of 2014. Two seasons ago, McGinn was the second-leading goal-scorer for the Adirondack Phantoms having lit the lamp twenty times in just 54 AHL games during the 2013/14 campaign..The Emerging Threat — # 37 – Yanni GOURDE ….. ($ 70,000 AHL) ….. Experienced a breakout season in his third full season as a professional last term while leading the Syracuse Crunch with 29 goals in 76 AHL games. Yet another diminutive player (5’9″ 170 lbs) coming out of Quebec with a noticeable measure of technical skill, the undrafted 23-year-old also finished second on the Crunch with 57 points and had an impressive defensive rating of + 13 last season, as well. Gourde, who has yet to skate in the crack NHL, scored two goals for Syracuse during the 4-2 triumph over the fledgling Lehigh Valley Phantoms late last January..The First Round Pick — # 79 – Anthony DEANGELO … ($ 70,000 AHL) …Soon-to-be 20-year-old defenseman is a native of Sewell, New Jersey, and was the 1st round choice (# 19 overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2014 NHL Draft. DeAngelo spent the past four years playing in the Ontario Hockey League and was voted the best defenseman in the entire Canadian major junior system last season; skated for the medal-less United States squad (5 ga, 2 go, 3 pts, 4 pen, – 1 def) at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championships last winter, as well. The decidedly undersized DeAngelo (5’11” 175 lbs) is known to extremely slippery and very creative with the puck but is also easily out-muscled along the boards in his own end and could use improvement with respect to positioning..The Veteran Defenseman — # 20 – Matt TAORMINA … ($ 200,000 AHL) … Back for a second tour of duty with the Syracuse Crunch this fall after leading the Worcester Sharks (76 ga, 11 go, 38 pts, 24 pen, – 7 def) in both goals and points last season, the undrafted 28-year-old veteran out of Providence College will be expected to spark the attack on the ice as well as provide guidance and leadership in the locker room. The rather smallish Taormina (5’10” 185 lbs) has, in fact, appeared in a total of 56 NHL games (4 go, 12 pts, 6 pen, + 3 def) for the New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning in parts of four seasons and can be trusted not to take stupid penalties. Taormina will undoubtedly log a lot of minutes at the PPL Center on Saturday night..Another First Round Pick — # 65 – Slater KOEKKOEK … ($ 70,000 AHL) …The first round choice (# 12 overall) of Tampa Bay at the 2012 NHL Draft actually made the Lightning’s official “Opening Day” roster but was quickly assigned to the minors on Wednesday. The 21-year-old has decent size (6’2″ 198 lbs) and is known to be an exceptionally fast skater as well as a good quarterback on the power play. As a rookie professional last season, Koekkoek appeared in three NHL games for Tampa Bay but spent most of his time in the AHL with Syracuse (72 ga, 5 go, 26 pts, 44 pen, + 7 def) and had a goal for the Crunch during their 6-1 romp over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center late last March.
What To Watch For The Phantoms
- Watch to see if we’re still wearing those black jerseys. Back in black! They’re OK, I guess, but I’m hoping for something a little snazzier.
- Watch to see if Palushaj scores–I think he will regardless of if the lines above hold or if he’s paired with Cousins again.
- Watch to see if the defense can protect LaBarbera (assuming he gets the start)
- Watch to see if the defensive pairs continue to feature one veteran and one prospect in each set.
- Watch to see the intensity of waiver casualties McDonald and MacDonald
- Watch to see, if they get burned selling out on the power play.
The Phantoms head out on the road for the next three–they’ll be in Springfield and Wilkes Barre next weekend, then in Providence before they return home for the second half of the home-and-home with Providence again on Saturday, October 24. That’ll be “magnet schedule night” and I feel like we’ll know more about this team by then!
See you at the arena,