“Some days you go bear hunting and you get eaten.
Some days you come home with a nice rug to roll around on, and bear steaks.”
Here’s your “Fan Kit” for tonight’s game at the PPL Center between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Hershey Bears:
The Phantoms lost a lack-luster contest versus Portland Sunday afternoon at the PPL Center. The score was 4-2, with markers by Comrie and Conner. The team is 0-5-2 over their last seven games; 2 out of a possible 14 points. They’ve been out-scored 26-13 over that stretch.
The Phantoms last won a home game on Friday, February 19. They are 11-18-1-2 at home, the 28th best record out of 30 AHL teams.
The Phantoms have been eliminated from the playoffs. For now, it’s about evaluating the players and looking at what we might have for our 2016-2017 squad.
- Goalie Anthony Stolarz is back in Philadelphia, with the injury to Michal Neuvirth. It appears he may be there for the duration of the AHL season, and will hopefully get a chance to start a game and contribute to the Flyers’ playoff run
- Goalie Jason LaBarbera didn’t play horribly in the loss on Sunday, but may have reaggravated whatever injury he’s been struggling with this season. It’s not known if he’ll be able to make it back to finish this campaign.
- So we welcome Marty Ouellette and Connor Knapp as our current netminders.
- Colin McDonald continues to battle nagging injuries.
- Joe Rehkamp was released from his PTO and reassigned to Reading
- Welcome back Pavel Padakin from Reading. He had been playing very well there, getting serious ice time.
- You’ll recall, Maine University Senior Captain and centerman Steve Swavely was added as an ATO prior to the homestand. He’s wearing #42 and centered the fourth line on Sunday. He should get minutes as a face-off guy and on the kill unit.
- D Max Lamarche is also day to day with an unknown injury–possibly concussion protocol, but I’m only guessing based on the hit he took in Hartford
- F Aaron Palushaj missed Sunday’s game with an undisclosed injury
- The Flyers/Phantoms just signed defensive captain Reece Willcox from Cornell University. He was teammates with Cole Bardreau for the Big Red. The 6’4″ stay-at-home D-man is from British Columbia and will wear #43, and probably not see ice time until the weekend.
Following their shoot-out loss in the rematch with Norfolk last Saturday, the Royals slipped to 7th in the standings, in a virtual 6th-place tie with Wheeling. The Royals are home tonight for Kalamazoo.
With the Royals facing a playoff run, I think we need to be careful about stealing their goalies. They were able to sign Penn State product Matt Skoff , but perhaps this is an instance where the Phantoms need to take one for the organization as we’re the team out of the playoffs whilst the Flyers and Royals are not.
At the same time, Ouellette and Knapp deserve a chance to test themselves at the AHL level. Hopefully a balance can be found which doesn’t screw the Royals out of their well-deserved position in the standings.
I’ll have a little more on the Royals in upcoming posts. Fans hankering for playoff hockey may want to keep an eye on our affiliate to the West and their remaining home schedule–as well as potential playoff schedule.
The Hershey Bears come to town, in a game that is if some importance to them. They are in a virtual dead-lock with Wilkes Barre for the top seed in the Atlantic and may need this win to keep pace.
The task doesn’t get any easier for the Phantoms–right after Phantom-killer Mike McKenna, we get to face another hot goalie. der Eishockeyzuschauer takes a look Behind Enemy Lines.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets and Parking: Many good seats remain for this contest. In fact, with the playoffs now out of the question, I’ve noticed an increase in tickets available through various secondary markets. If you’d like to try some different–and sometimes premium–seats, this might be your chance.
No parking issues to report. Remember, the arena deck (North/Linden) is pre-paid only. While supplies last, you can purchase access HERE.
Media Kit / Rosters: Hershey 3-23-2016
Promotions: It’s “Health Care Workers Appreciation Night” as well as “Non-profit Awareness” night. I’m not sure what this will entail, but I can say that as a health care worker myself, I am certainly aware of not making a profit.
There are a couple special menu items available tonight: Slap Shot Sangria by Franklin Hill Vineyards, is available to guests 21 and over at the Club Bar as well as the Miller Lite Loft. Power Play Poutine is available at the Burger Prime, with a chance to win an autographed puck.
The Phantoms will also be featuring a number of non-meat items at concessions around the concourse, for those observing Lent.
PreGame: “Happy Hour” at Hook continues to evolve, I’m told. We may check that out tonight, and then take the short walk down the Arts Walk to the arena.
Also, the MEZZ Gallery in the Renaissance Hotel is opening a new showing by artist Rigo Peralta. The neo-surrealist exhibition “Past & Present: The Dynamic Forms of Rigo Peralta” opens with a cocktail reception today from 5:30PM to 7:30PM on the mezzanine floor.
What to Watch
- Let’s see how Marty Ouellette does in net tonight–if I remember correctly, he did well at home last season and less so on the road.
- If Padakin returns to the lineup, watch to see if he’s in the top two lines, or receiving minutes with them. See if his confidence and game-speed are any different following his time in Reading
- Watch Swavely on the face off. I’m told he’s quite good.
- Watch to see if Colin McDonald is in the lineup–same with Aaron Palushaj and Max Lamarche
- Watch to see if the Bears take the Phantoms lightly. When you think about it, the Pens win almost every game here in our beautiful building; that forces the bears to do the same in order to keep up. Will they? Or will the Phantoms play spoiler?
- Watch to see how many folks fill the seats on a Wednesday night with the team eliminated. How many will leave early if we go down 2-0? 3-0?
This is game 2 of 4 straight at home. We’re back at it on Good Friday as well as Easter Saturday. Saturday night is “fan appreciation night.” I’m not sure what that entails, either.
Following Saturday’s game, the Phantoms will have only three home games remaining, all in April, with the first on April 9th versus Bridgeport.
See you at the arena–at least a couple more times,