Welcome to the start of the 2021 home campaign for your Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The shortened experience will play out against just three teams: The Hershey Bears, The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins and the Newark (ne’ Binghamton) Devils. There won’t be a Calder Champion, and there likely won’t be playoffs. Fans in the barn will be limited–severely so to begin the season. But what there will be is hockey, and player development. And did I mention HOCKEY?!?
The Phantoms schedule, likely with the home schedule back-loaded for future fan attendance advantages, began with three road games:
February 6: In the opener, the team came from an 0-1 deficit to tie the game and then win 2-1 in overtime in Hershey
February 10: After leading 1-0 and controlling much of the play, the team allowed Newark back in it to tie, then lost in overtime 1-2.
February 14: After leading 3-1 in Hershey, the team fell behind 4-3. However, they tied it and then won in overtime, 5-4.
The team is 2-0-1 and atop the AHL North based on win percentage. However, playing overtime every single game is probably not the way to go about things consistently.
First, to catch up on the roster construction, and link to some ongoing resources for roster monitoring, please read my roster post from last weekend.
|2021-02-18||Matthew Strome (LW)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-15||David Kase (RW)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-15||Maksim Sushko (RW)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-06||Samuel Morin (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-06||Samuel Morin (D)||Lehigh Valley||ADD||Returned on loan from Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-06||Derrick Pouliot (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-06||Felix Sandstrom (G)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
|2021-02-05||Samuel Morin (D)||Lehigh Valley||DEL||Recalled from loan by Philadelphia (Taxi)|
As you probably already know, the Flyers have been hit by the COVID, which has taxi-squad and Phantoms players on the move to fill in. They did admirably in a shoot-out loss Thursday night and are now on their way to play outdoors at Lake Tahoe tomorrow afternoon. It’s not clear if we’ll get some players back in order to play our game tonight, or who might be healthy enough to play. We do know that first-round youngster F Tyson Foerster has a leg injury. We could see some players out of position tonight, or playing slightly short-handed.
Below, I’ll tell you about a couple of “Juniors” players who are contributing to this club big-time this season. Those kids are alright, man.
Yesterday, we found out the official captains for this season:
C – Cal O’Reilly
A – Tyler Wotherspoon
A – Garrett Wilson
Game Day Information
This whole column was originally designed around providing information to folks who will be going to the game(s). However, with so few able to attend, I’ll try to provide a little info for those at home, as well as the lucky few who were able to get tickets.
If you were lucky enough to score seats, your tickets will be in the app, then via your online account. Add them to your Apple Wallet if you use the iPhone, and then they’re easy to find. Other game-day rules and restrictions will be in an email. For those curious, it looks something like this:
LEHIGH VALLEY PHANTOMS vs. BINGHAMTON DEVILS
SATURDAY, February 20, 2021 Doors Open @ 6:30 pm Game Starts @ 7:05 pm
2021 REGULAR SEASON HOME OPENER!
- Guests can enter PPL Center at the following entrances:
- WFMZ-TV Gate at 7th & Hamilton Street
- Air Products Gate at 7th & Linden Street
- Please note: All other entrances will be closed.
COVID-19 FAN CODE OF CONDUCT
To help ensure your safety, PPL Center requests all guests to comply with the following policies and procedures:
- Nose and mouth coverings will be required at all times with the exception of while guests are actively eating or drinking.
- Clear 12″x12″x6″ bags, clear one-gallon resealable bags, or small clutch bags are strongly encouraged to minimize contact during the security screening process.
- Pods of seats have been strategically set to maintain a proper social distance between guests. While seated, guests must remain within their designed pod and seat, assigned via mobile ticket, at all times.
- Capacity restrictions will be enforced in all elevators (limited to 4), and the Team Store (limited to 10) to maintain social distance.
- No large gatherings will be permitted on the concourse or in The Morning Call Club.
- Repeated failure to comply with the COVID-19 Fan Code of Conduct may result in removal from the event.
ENHANCED SAFETY MEASURES
- Guests will be able to scan their own tickets at the aforementioned entrances using new, state-of-the-art ticket pedestals allowing for contactless entry, with event staff on standby to assist as needed.
- Existing cleaning procedures have been amplified and additional routine sanitizing of all high touch surfaces and areas has been implemented for all events using CDC-recommended disinfectant and electrostatic sprayers.
- PPL Center features a state-of-the-art HVAC system allowing for double filtration and maximum outside air circulation, and utilizing filters of nearly hospital grade that are highly efficient in removing infectious aerosols and virus particles from the air.
- Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at each entrance and throughout the arena for guest use at any time.
- Plexiglass dividers have been installed at all security screening checkpoints, concession stands, merchandise stands, guest services desk, and cashiers.
- Upgraded point-of-sale systems have been installed at all concession and merchandise stands featuring tap-and-go pay options, Apple Pay and Google Pay, to encourage contactless and cashless transactions where possible.
- All restrooms are equipped with touchless sinks, toilets, and soap and paper towel dispensers.
- Floor markers and signage have been placed throughout the arena to remind guests to maintain a safe social distance from one another.
- Smoking and re-entry are prohibited, including previously designated smoking areas.
At home, you can watch on Service Electric TV-2 where available, as well as the home portion of AHL-TV. Select Saturdays may be available on Channel FMZ-69, but not tonight. The audio stream is available live on the Phantoms app, web, and as well over the air AM-1470 or AM-790.
As far as I know, the following restaurants are open, should you desire a bite to eat or a beverage before the gates open at 6:30PM:
BrewWorks, Bru-Daddy, Hamilton Kitchen, Bell Hall, and Tacos y Tequila.
Others may be open, but lately it appears that 99 Bottles is open only for lunch and Chickie’s won’t re-open until April.
The Newark (Binghamton) Devils are in town.
Notable is #62, Danick Martel.
Referee Patrick Hanrahan (#52)
Referee Rob Hennessey (#87)
Linesman Patrick Dapuzzo (#57)
Linesman John Rey (#16)
Can’t get in until 6:30 anyway, for those lucky enough to go, and there should be plenty of room to park, in theory. However, continued development downtown may have your favorite lot or deck under construction. Since it’s the first night, and with the snow, leave a little extra time getting downtown tonight.
What To Watch
- I’m expecting veteran netminder Zane McIntyre to be taming the pucks tonight. However, watch to see if Coach Gordon gives local guy Eamon McAdam a chance. Felix Sandstrom started the preseason game and played well. McIntyre has been strong in the first three games.
- Watch to make sure Danick Martel doesn’t score any hat tricks. No more of that now that he’s left us.
- Watch the youngsters: #14 F Zayde Wisdom has been really strong. He was born in 2002. I believe #4 D Egor Zamula was due to join us this season anyway, but fellow blue-liner #8 Mason Millman was born in 2001. These guys have all played well thus far. I’ve been very impressed, after seeing guys come up from Juniors in the past and get pushed around quite a bit. In fact, these guys will be logging important minutes tonight with the roster so thin.
- Keep an eye on #20 Max Willman. You’ll remember he came up from Reading last season and played so well that he never went back. He’s been on fire thus far in this short season.
- Another player to watch is veteran forward #86 Chris Mueller. He might not score a goal tonight, but don’t be surprised if he shows up on your score sheet with a couple helpers. He and Cal will provide that forward group with plenty of leadership this season.
- F Garrett Wilson dropped them with #43 Ben Thomson in the first minute of the last meeting between these clubs. Will they go again?
- Special Teams: Once again, the Phantoms are among the worst in the league. In fact, they’re one of three teams who have yet to score a Power Play goal–and Stockton hasn’t played a game yet! Thankfully, the PK has been as good as the Power Play is bad. 100% on the kill so far this season!
The Phantoms head to Newark on Wednesday for a rematch, in a game that was supposed to be played last night. That will be a 6PM start on your AHL-TV. Then, on Friday it’s a 5PM tilt in Wilkes-Barre versus the hated Penguins. We’ll be back here at the PPL Center next Saturday for a rematch with the Pens at the more appropriate hockey time of 7:05PM.
It was a straight lottery for tickets for tonight. I’m hearing just 100 people, in “pods” from about section 112 to 119. We should hear something this week about ticket opportunities for full season ticket plan holders who are committed for next season.
See you at the arena???