Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Cole Bardreau (# 9), the versatile center / right wing from Cornell University now in his second full season as a professional player, was completely powerless to prevent the Hamilton Street Heroes from falling to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the third time in as many meetings thus far this term ….. (photo courtesy Christian Abraham / “Ct Post” website)
Oh PPL Center, we stand on guard for thee!
No one in their right mind would ever suggest it is possible for any Lehigh Valley Phantoms team to actually be victorious in each and every one of the seventy-six games on its annual American Hockey League schedule. Still, it is entirely too easy to dismiss the Hamilton Street Heroes’ potentially infectious 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night by simplistically saying, “Well, can’t win them all you know.” A quick check on reality reveals that, versus the streaking Phantoms this weekend, the Sound Tigers started the # 6 goaltender on the New York Islanders’ organizational depth chart and were also without three defensemen who have all been promoted by the National Hockey League parent within the past month, as well.
One must remember that the New York Islanders have been carrying three goaltenders on its NHL roster all season long and that Penn State rookie netminder Eamon McAdam, the 22-year-old native of Perkasie, was appearing in his very first AHL game since his recall from the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks just this past Wednesday (Nov 16th). Also bear in mind that, going into Saturday night’s game, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms had scored 57 goals in 14 games and were the only AHL team to be lighting the lamp more than four times per outing on average. So, in other words, this latest loss to the shorthanded Sound Tigers has many characteristics that would suitably fill a “missed opportunity” position anywhere in the world.
Must be time to crack for the Phantoms to hear the crack of this blog’s whip – again. Legendary coach Herb Brooks once made his United States national team that ultimately won the gold medal at XII Winter Olympic Games at Lake Placid in February of 1980 skate in suits and ties an hour or so after only managing a 3-3 tie with Norway overseas in Oslo on September 17th of 1979. The overall point is that it is never too early in the season to establish once and for all what will and will not qualify as acceptable results, especially when trying to make the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time in eight long years is concerned.
It is said that hindsight is always 20/20 but perhaps it really would have been the wisest option for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to go with the recently recalled Martin Ouellette in between the pipes against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night. After all, Alex Lyon had already made four starts, three of which were extremely successful, in the last eight calendar days and the 23-year-old rookie from Yale University was about due for a rest anyway. And Ouellette, the 24-year-old from the University of Maine who is now in his third full season as a professional, showed in his nine AHL starts (2.36 avg, .933 svpct) last season that he can be trustworthy at this level.
Looking ahead at the immediate schedule at hand, the hopefully resilient Heroes now have back-to-back games against former Phantoms pugilist Zack Sortini and the offensively-challenged Binghamton Senators. It is extremely interesting to note that, as a rookie a couple of years ago, Ouellette turned aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced in his one and only career start versus the B-Sens back on January 17th, 2015, as Lehigh Valley trounced Binghamton 5-1 in front of the jam-packed crowd of 8,907 spectators at the PPL Center. The fifth string goaltender in the Philadelphia Flyers organization has also had success against the team that will be skating against the Phantoms in Allentown this upcoming Saturday night, stopping 38 shots during the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ 2-1 triumph over the Hartford Wolf Pack in front of 8,677 people at the corner of Seventh and Hamilton Streets on March 26th of this past spring.
(Note To Kram : apparently, when Ouellette plays, the place is overflows)
In other news, Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde, who scored two goals in the very first game that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms ever played and was promoted immediately thereafter, was injured early in the first period of Saturday night’s NHL contest opposite the Tampa Bay Lightning and did not return. The Flyers, who are underwater with the record of eight overall wins against eleven overall losses this season, were only carrying thirteen forwards on the NHL roster to begin with so it is quite possible that the Phantoms’ AHL roster will be raided in the very near future. Scott Laughton (8 ga, 2 go, 6 as, + 3 def), the former first round NHL draft pick who netted the game-winner versus the Providence Bruins in Rhode Island on Friday night, is probably at the top of a short list of Lehigh Valley forwards likely to be promoted at this point in time.
Meanwhile, high scoring centers Andy Miele and Jordan Weal both remain out of action with undisclosed upper / lower body injuries mostly because the Lehigh Valley Phantoms do about as well to disclose such information as the old East German secret police did to formally charge many of the people they arrested. The continued absence of Miele, who has been among the AHL’s top six scorers in each of the past three seasons but has now missed the Phantoms’ last six games on the trot, is troublesome. Steven Swavely, the 24-year-old right winger from the University of Maine now in his first full season as a professional, was summoned from the ECHL’s Reading Royals and was in the Phantoms line-up on both Friday and Saturday.
With the recent trade of unused Czech winger Petr Straka to the New Jersey Devils organization as well as the recent demotion of unproductive Canadian winger Tyrell “One-Punch” Goulbourne to Reading in the ECHL, it does seem as if the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ miniature roster purge of dead weight slowing down the ship has been completed. The Binghamton basher Sortini, once a most popular figure here in the Mecca of Minor League Sports, certainly will not be bothered by the banishment of good ole’ One-Punch to the third-tier Royals. This because it was barely more than a year ago (November 8th of 2015, to be exact) that “Sorts” ended up flat on his back after getting socked in the face by Goulbourne and, shortly thereafter, was so wobbly when trying to get up that he had to be helped off the ice at the PPL Center.
It should be interesting to see if Stortini is looking for any kind of leftover payback when the lowly Binghamton Senators arrive for the AHL game in Allentown the day after Thanksgiving.
Categories: Phantoms Hockey