“Hockey players wear numbers because you can’t always identify the body with dental records.”

— Author Unknown



Danick Martel Photo: Cheryl Pursell


Looking Back

It was a “3-in-3” last weekend:  That’s three losses in three days.  The Phantoms headed up to Binghamton on Wednesday to try to exact some revenge for Sunday’s loss, and the flood gates opened right up to the tune of a 6-3 Phantoms win, with Stoli in goal.  Six different Phantoms scored in the game, as the whole team was buzzing the entire three periods.  It was a nice, full, effort by the entire squad–good to see, and just what they needed.  The team speed looked really good on the AHL-Live broadcast anyway–it seemed to be the factor which allowed the Phantoms to have quality chances at goals.  Guys were working hard in the corners, too, hustling and digging pucks out.  No substitute for hard work, as they say…


Team Report

  • The Phantoms continue to reside near the bottom of the standings.  They need to continue to accumulate win-points, preferably in regulation.
  • The Power Play unit was able to get a goal Wednesday night, as Ghost sniped one in.  That unit is currently ranked 9th out of 30.  They continue to look disorganized at times, but I saw the “umbrella” in effect Wednesday night while watching online.  It is a powerful formation if they can get it set up and run it properly.  d. E. tells me that missing Cousins was a prime reason it wasn’t functioning properly last weekend.
  • The Penalty Kill is still rock-bottom at 30th.  However, they only yielded two Power Plays on Wednesday versus the Senators, and they killed both.  I think this unit is improving.  Shaky, but improving.
  • Phantoms attendance is below last year’s level, but a nice Sunday afternoon showing last weekend was impressive.  We’re averaging 7,637 per game, which is good for third in the league right now, behind Hershey and San Diego.  And remember, the buildings in this league range from Lake Erie and Charlotte, which can pack in as many as 20,000-some down to Utica’s  3,815 and Binghamton’s 4,710.


Player Report

The Phantoms continue to get healthy, and now the hope is that some of the lines and pairings can start to ‘gel.’

F Nick Cousins returned to play in Binghamton Wednesday night, and got right back on the board scoring a goal.

F Colin McDonald remains injured, but has been skating.  He is currently practicing wearing a “non-contact” jersey.

Cole Bardreau returned on Sunday in Allentown, but may have been re-injured.  His current status is unknown.

Aaron Palushaj was injured Saturday in Syracuse and missed Sunday and Wednesday.  He could possibly return this weekend.

Derek Mathers and D/F Jesper Pettersson were both reassigned to Reading, and played in Reading’s win Wednesday night at the Santander.  Pettersson was on defense.

Davis Drewiske was returned to the Phantoms, from Philadelphia, in time for Wednesday’s game in Binghamton.  He started against the B-Sens paired with Hagg.


Goal Leaders

Straka 7

4 Tied at 4

Penalty Leaders

Lashoff 18

Martel 15

Morin 14

Netminder Report

Stolarz:  4-3 / 2.02 GAA / .922 SV%

LaBarbera 1-5 / 4.15 GAA / .855 SV%

EmptyNet 0-2 / 15.69 GAA / .000 SV%



Rosehill was a late scratch versus Binghamton, which forced the extra warm-up skater, Marti, into the lineup.  The Phantoms went with 11F/7D Wednesday night.  During warm-ups the lines looked like this:


23 Leier – 37 Brent – 18 Martel

24 Straka – 25 Cousins – 22 Conner

12 Goulbourne – 11 Sundher – 10 Rankin

38 Rosehill – 17 Goumas – 27 Padakin

47 MacDonald – 14 Gostisbehere

5 Drewiske – 4 Hagg

3 Morin – 2 Alt

41 Stolarz


Royal Report

Reading’s record is 6-3.  They’ve now won three straight, and remain comfortably in second place.  They’ll be back at it tonight in Wheeling, then home Saturday and Sunday for Norfolk.

Time is running out to secure “group rate” tickets to be part of the Phan Nation contingent set to invade Reading next Friday to watch the Royals crush the Elmira Jackals.  See the “Reading” post on our home page for details and links to order your tickets!



The Phantoms continue to face out-of-division opponents.  Today, the Rochester Americans are in town.  The “Amerks” are the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres.  They’re a 6-5 team.  Their “road” power play is in the bottom third of the league, while their “road” penalty kill is almost as bad as the Phantoms.  This game is the return of longtime Phantoms forward Jason Akeson.

der Eishockeyzuschauer scouting:

The history-rich Rochester Americans might be celebrating their 60th anniversary season in the American Hockey League this year and deservedly so, but the traditionally successful club also happen to be making their first-ever visit to the PPL Center in downtown Allentown this Friday night. Aside from winning the Calder Cup trophy six times, the Amerks have also appeared in the AHL playoff final on ten other occasions, as well. The Rochester Americans also have the distinction of being the only North American professional hockey team to ever skate in a mid-season European tournament as the Americans have already represented the AHL twice at the almost one hundred-year-old Spengler Cup, the annual post-Christmas tournament held in Davos, Switzerland, that always concludes with a daytime final on New Year’s Eve

Less than a dozen games into this still relatively new 2015/16 AHL season, the up-and-down Rochester Americans have already had a real roller coast ride of it, then. After winning their first two games, the Amerks proceeded to drop their next four contests on the trot but, since then, Rochester have won four out of their past five games, including the last three in succession. At present, the Americans currently stand six out of seven teams in the AHL’s North Division of the Eastern Conference having amassed 54.5% of all possible points available from their eleven games played thus far (six wins and five regulation-time losses).

22-year-old rookie Linus Ullmark, the 6th round pick (# 163 overall) of the Buffalo Sabres at the 2012 NHL Draft who was teammates with Lehigh Valley Phantoms defenseman Robert Hagg on Swedish elite league club Mo Do Ornskoldsvik two seasons ago, was demoted to Rochester just two days after the AHL season began but was then recalled two weeks later after making 110 saves (.932 pct) in just three games. Andrey Makarov (4 ga, 4.77 avg, .858 svpct), the undrafted 22-year-old Russian netminder who made the most AHL appearances for the Americans’ last season  (39 ga, 2.91 avg, .905 svpct), has been rather unconvincing this fall. Meanwhile, Nathan Lieuwen (5 ga, 3.38 avg, .898 svpct), the 6th round pick (# 167 overall) of the Buffalo Sabres at the 2011 NHL Draft, was torched by the Toronto Marlies for seven goals after being returned to the Rochester Americans only a couple of weeks ago but has played very well (2.00 avg, .934 svpct) and has won his last three starts.

Look for the 24-year-old Lieuwen, who, only just two seasons ago had a standout campaign (32 ga, 2.34 avg, .922 svpct) for Rochester in the AHL and also made seven NHL appearances for the Buffalo Sabres, as well, to get the start for the Americans against the Phantoms at the PPL Center on Friday.   

Rochester are noticeably lacking any real blue chip prospects on defense although the Americans do have a trip of rearguards with NHL experience. Perhaps the most dangerous offensively would be Bobby Sanguinetti, the 27-year-old native of Trenton, New Jersey, who was once the 1st round pick (# 21 overall) of the New York Rangers at the 2006 NHL Draft and later skated in 45 NHL games (2 go, 6 pts, 8 pen, – 6 def) for the Rangers and the Carolina Hurricanes. Returning to North America last summer after an unproductive 2013/14 season in the Kontinental Hockey League with Atlant Mytishchi, the veteran Sanguinetti had a very strong showing for the Utica Comets (61 go, 16 go, 40 pts, 16 pen, + 24 def) and skated in the 2015 AHL All-Star Game.
Chad Ruhwedel, the 25-year-old undrafted free agent from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell who has already skated in 32 NHL games for the Buffalo Sabres in parts of three seasons, showed last term for Rochester Americans (72 ga, 10 go, 36 pts, 22 pen, – 6 def) that he can generate offense on the blue line at the AHL level, as well. 
Matt Donovan (6’0″ 205 lbs), the 25-year-old free agent out of Denver University who was the 4th round pick of the New York Islanders at the 2008 NHL Draft, has the most top shelf experience among all Rochester defensemen having already skated in 67 NHL games. The beefy Brady Austin (6’3″ 232 lbs), the second-year professional who registered an unsightly – 16 defensive rating last season as a rookie, is the only other rearguard the Americans have who tips the scales in excess of two hundred pounds. Overall, the defensive corps is a bit undersized.
Up front, Rochester feature none other than right wing Jason Akeson, the undrafted 25-year-old who signed with Rochester this summer after spending the last four years in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. Akeson, of course, led the fledgling Lehigh Valley Phantoms last season by scoring 23 goals in only 57 AHL games and also finished second on the team in points with 53 despite also skating in a baker’s dozen NHL games for the Flyers. So far this term, the fifth-year pro is currently second in scoring (11 ga, 3 go, 8 pts, 6 pen, – 8 def) for his new club although his plus/minus rating is not impressive.

Puck Drop:  7:05PM

Doors:  6:00PM

Tickets and Parking:  I haven’t been able to access the website for ticket availability for tonight’s game.  You might need to call if you’re in the market.  Plenty of seats are available on the secondary market.  I believe the arena garage is sold out for tonight; use the parking authority lots and decks for tonight’s game.

A quick thing to note:  tickets are going fast for tomorrow night’s game–they’re already peddling SRO, so grab tix for tomorrow now if you need them.

One other quick thing about tickets:  I don’t usually pimp out for the Phantoms–they do a fine job selling tickets on their own.  However, if you’re in the market for a holiday gift, or just need some extra seats over the holiday weeks–take a peak at some of their package deals–seats with autographed pucks or sticks, concession credits, etc. and MINIMAL FEES.  Remember, purchasing tickets at the box office or online always generates the most fees–especially the day of the game.

Broadcast Information:  As per usual, the game can be found on Service Electric TV-2 in the Lehigh Valley, as well as on AHL-Live around the world.  Audio can be heard locally on AM-1470.  Online audio can be found on or via the IHeartRadio app on mobile.  Inside the arena, tune in to FM 89.9 for the “real time” feed.

Promotion:  It’s our first T-Shirt night of the season!  And, guess what?  It’s not orange!  I mean, it has orange on it, but….

The first 8,500 will get a free XL one of these:


Pregame:  Odd start-times and surly companions have my pre/post game meal reviews behind schedule.  I’ll let you know how I do tonight.  My advice is to get downtown reasonably early as Fridays are second only to Saturdays in crowds downtown.  Aim for 4:30PM or so if you can, to assure a table.  Broadcast pre-games are the same:  TV 6:30 from Chickie’s; Radio 6:20PM to listen on your way downtown if you’re coming just for the game.


What To Watch:

  • As always, watch to see who gets the start in goal.  Stoli started on Wednesday in Binghamton.
  • Watch to see if Cousins stays in the lineup.  We’ve missed his presence, methinks–certainly looked better on Wednesday.
  • Watch to see which jerseys we wear.  We wore orange on the road on Wednesday; last season we traditionally wore the orange at home on Fridays.  I still don’t know what they’re up to, but I think they have started auctioning off those Black preseason jerseys behind section 102.  Check to see what they have there tonight.
  • Watch to see how the attacking lines shake out.  Using Martel on the wing with Leier opposite is an incredibly fast line.  That speed may have opened things up for Brent a bit, and help Leier get off the schnide.
  • Watch Goulbourne.  He’s gaining confidence and his hustle and checking is leading to goal-scoring opportunities for his teammates.  I’m not sure how many more will choose to fight him, either.
  • Watch Goumas as well.  He looks stronger this season and is able to use his speed more consistently.  Again, that rush and check is allowing the offense to get set up and resulting in an increase in scoring chances.  Now it’s a matter of capitalizing.
  • Watch to see if the PK unit can continue to have some success and get out of the cellar against an Amerks team which is not a stellar road PP.
  • The Phantoms PP should have the decided advantage when those units are out–watch for some PP goals tonight!
  • Watch to see Jason Akeson skate around with the puck, not pass it to anybody, and then flip a wrist shot into the corner of the net.


What’s Next:

The Phantoms are right back at it tomorrow at the PPL Center as the Albany Devils come to town.  It’s another 7:05PM puck drop, but the doors will open at 5:30PM on Saturdays this season.  It’s “Boy Scout Night.”

The Phantoms will spend next weekend in New England and fans will be heading to Reading for hockey.  After this weekend the next home games for the Phantoms are Thanksgiving weekend, Friday and Saturday 11/27 and 11/28.


See you at the arena,


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

Tags: , ,

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