Rock this place
To the ground.”
It’s been eight long years…
…so put on your orange and get out to the arena tonight to support your Phantoms. After 76 games the Hamilton Street Heroes are 48-23-5-0 and the second seed in the Atlantic Division. The opponent tonight is the Hershey Bears (43-22-8-3) as the third seed. The series will be best-of-5 with games 1 and 2 tonight and tomorrow at the PPL Center before the series switches to Hershey for games 3 (Wednesday) and 4 (Next Saturday, if needed). A final game, if needed, would be played right here in downtown Allentown on Sunday April 30.
Just like we’ve done all season around here, let me do my best to get you ready for tonight’s game. Here’s what you need to know about the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs:
F Jordan Weal never made it back to us. The paper-move to keep him eligible expired, and a waiver move doesn’t totally make sense, so we’ll proceed without him.
G Anthony Stolarz, D Will O’Neill, and F Boyd Gordon are all out indefinitely. If this becomes a deep run, we could see maybe O’Neill. But, we’re not counting on him, so as with Weal, we’ll plan on proceeding without.
G Carter Hart joined the team from juniors. With Alex Lyon expected to be the chief netminder for the Phantoms this tournament and Martin Ouellette expected to back him up, we’ll likely not see him. However, once Reading returns from Brampton in their Kelly Cup quest, it is possible Hart could hold down the bench spot while Ouellette gets some ice time helping the Royals. Down the stretch, Marty played some outstanding goalie to help the team secure the second seed. Hart is wearing sweater number 32.
D Mark Friedman got in the final game of the season last Saturday in Binghamton and looked good, according to those with eyes on the game. I’d imagine he’ll be depth mostly for the playoffs, but at least he got out there and will have the confidence to contribute if called upon. He’s wearing #37.
D Philippe Myers joins the club from juniors as his season is over. Like Hart, he probably won’t see any ice time. However, he did get high marks in Flyers camp over the summer and just came from the playoffs, so could be ready if called upon. More likely, though, it would be better for the Phantoms to use our regular AHL players in order to keep the systems the same in front of the goalies. Myers has sweater #5.
12 games this season with the Bears–here’s how it all shook out, and what I recall from each:
Phantoms regulation wins: 5
Phantoms OT/SO wins: 1/1
Phantoms OT/SO losses: 1/0
Phantoms regulation losses: 4
October 30 at Hershey: Hershey 3, Phantoms 2
Still finding their legs early on, it was three road games in a weekend. After beating Hartford and losing (again) in Bridgeport, the Phantoms went down to Hershey on a Sunday. Aube-Kubel got his first goal of the season from O’Neill and Brennan and Morin crushed Travis Boyd into the boards. The game was a rough affair with 15 different penalties. Stolarz was in goal.
November 13 at Hershey: Phantoms 3, Hershey 1
Another Sunday affair to cap a long weekend, but this time the Phantoms were starting to hit their stride and had gone to Utica Friday night and won 4-1, then back home for high-flying (at the time) Toronto for another win–this time 7-2 crush job. In Hershey that afternoon Conner and Willcox got second-period markers and Will O’Neill added a late power play goal to seal the deal. Alex Lyon turned away 35 of 36 shots for #1 star honors. The following Wednesday the Phantoms took down the Penguins at the PPL Center easily during this hot stretch.
December 2 at PPL Center: Hershey 4, Phantoms 3
A Friday night affair at 7th and Hamilton as the first game of a home-and-home saw the Bears take a 3-0 lead. The Phantoms came back to score three of the last four goals but it wasn’t enough. Lyon was in net. This game happened at a time where we were beginning to see the team come out a bit flat to start home games. Early breakdowns led to the goals in a low-shooting affair on both sides.
December 3 at Hershey: Phantoms 3, Hershey 2 (OT)
The next night at the Giant Center it was a back-and-forth affair which saw Jordan Weal get the game-winner in the extra period. The team responded to the poor start the previous night and came out with better energy. Alex Lyon made 34 saves on 36 shots.
December 16th at PPL Center: Phantoms 3, Hershey 2 (SO)
The Phantoms cranked up the shots on a Friday night, but needed the skills contest to get the extra point in another close contest. Lyon was again in net immediately following a wild Wednesday night win downtown where he allowed 6 goals in the 8-6 win over Bridgeport. Miele got the game-winner in the shootout.
December 26 at PPL Center: Hershey 5, Phantoms 2
The “Boxing Day Massacre” as it were. One of the few definitive wins in the season series saw the Bears take over the game which came immediately after a 9-day layoff for the Phantoms, in front of a packed post-holiday PPL Center. Alex Lyon was in net once again. The Bears took control in the second period in what was another chippy affair with 12 penalties and Will O’Neill throwing haymakers at the final horn.
January 13 at PPL Center: Phantoms 6, Hershey 2
Penalties galore as the Phantoms get retribution for the Boxing Day loss. The Hamilton Street Heroes scored two goals in every period on their way to the decisive victory on a Friday night in Allentown. Stolarz was in net as the Phantoms blue-liners only allowed the Bears to get off 17 shots all game. A run-in with high-alcohol beers has this game a little hazy in my memory.
January 14 at Hershey: Hershey 6, Phantoms 4
I’m sorry, did you say ‘retribution?’ The Bears came out the very next night with purpose, and grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first period before Travis Sanheim came with some of his own purpose to tie it with two goals of his very own, early in the second. Greg Carey added two third-period goals to keep it interesting. 10 power plays in this game. Lyon in net.
January 22 at Hershey: Phantoms 5, Hershey 1
The weekend before All Star weekend saw the Phantoms win a big game over the Penguins on Friday night before completely falling asleep on Saturday in a 9-1 pasting by Providence. Hershey loves to host these Sunday afternoon cappers, and in this case the Phantoms responded to their deplorable effort the previous evening by grabbing the first five goals in this one. Lyon got back on the horse for the win in net, with Dekanich backing him up.
March 10 at PPL Center: Phantoms 3, Hershey 2
The Phantoms welcomed Pheonix Copley to the PPL Center by peppering him with 36 shots. Paul Carey got a late goal as the second period expired, to tie it. In the third, Corban Knight got the game-winner with only a couple minutes left. Stolarz only faced 21 shots in the game.
April 2 at Hershey: Phantoms 4, Hershey 2
It had been six straight games without a regulation win for the Phantoms. They had lost to Bridgeport Friday night at home, 3-1, then went to Wilkes Barre and got shut-out 3-0. They desperately needed the two points and they also needed to hold off the now-surging Bears. They were at risk of falling out of the playoffs completely if they didn’t get some points. In one of the biggest wins of the season, Alex Lyon out-dueled Pheonix Copley as each puck-tamer saw 34 shots. It was also the Chris Conner Show with his hattie and a helper to boot.
April 5 at PPL Center: Hershey 3, Phantoms 2 (OT)
In a rematch on the next Wednesday, the Phantoms were now just trying to gather points to whittle down the “magic number.” A Hershey marker in the last minute of the first period was equalized early in the second by Taylor Leier. The Captain got a goal in the third which was equalized by the Bears. Andy Miele got thrown out of the overtime by barking at the officials. It felt like we were headed to the shoot-out when the Bears got the winner late.
Wear your orange and come out rocking.
Puck Drop: 7:05PM
Tickets: It appears that good seats are still available despite the fact that the seating chart is not currently visible. ‘SRO’ is listed, but not currently available–telling me that plenty of seats are still out there. I do not think this game will sell out, but I would still acquire tickets before heading downtown, just in case.
Promotion: Orange rally towels to assist with the “orange out.”
Media Kit: Bears 042117 (rosters and match-up information, includes regular season stats)
Officials: (games between teams, worked dates)
Referees: Terry Koharski #10 (11/13), Furman South #44* (10/16, 12/26)
Linesmen: Jud Ritter #34 (12/2, 1/13, 4/5), Bob Goodman #90 (12/3, 1/14)
Broadcast: TV-2 on Service Electric (IronPigs will shift to 50/550); AHL-Live; Phantoms-365 App; AM-1470; FM 89.9 in arena live feed.
Pre-Game: Radio pre-game at 6:20 for your drive; 6:30 TV live from Chickies. I think I’ll be at the IronPigs early before coming over the bridge for the game as it starts.
The Phantoms Will Win If…
- …Alex Lyon can take charge of this game. He’s the man right now and he knows it. Look for him to seize the opportunity. I think he will.
- ….they can get an early goal or two. I’m looking for the Phantoms to come out buzzing like you’ve never seen before. If they can get an early goal or two that can set the tone for the game.
- …they can score 4 or more goals.
- …the defenders can stay in the lanes and prevent silly turnovers.
- …they can exit the zone with speed and convert to attack quickly.
- …they want it more. Every time the Phantoms really needed a win against the Bears, they were able to get it. When they didn’t approach the game properly, they didn’t. It’s up to them.
The Phantoms Will Lose If…
- ….they can’t capitalize on the early buzz and the Bears goalie gains confidence.
- …. Alex Lyon doesn’t stay confident himself.
- ….the crowd goes quiet. They’re a third-period team and we’ll need to keep the energy up with them all the way through.
- … the defenders get too aggressive on the attack and forget their own-zone responsibilities.
- …. they let any early frustration distract them from the task at hand.
- …. they let the Bears turn the game into a penalty-fest.
Tonight: Phantoms 5-2
Tomorrow: Bears 3-2
Wednesday: Bears 5-4 (OT)
Saturday: Phantoms 3-2 (OT)
Sunday: Phantoms 4-1
*Phantoms win series 3-2 in five.
Providence proves a more difficult task than Wilkes Barre anticipates, but still only lasts 4, but a couple games go to overtime. Wilkes Barre then buries the Phantoms in four straight in the next round. The Penguins do not win the Calder; they get beat by either the North or the West.
See you at the arena,