The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2008-09, the final season the AHL club was in Philadelphia. The Phantoms were able to dominate all regular season long with a roster stacked with talented prospects and AHL superstars. Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, and Travis Sanheim were absolute anchors for the Phantoms this season. It is pretty exciting to see these Flyer’s prospects have success like this in the minors. Especially with the likes of Sanheim, who had an immediate impact on how well the Phantoms did this season. With 10 goals and a total of 35 points, Sanheim is definitely someone for Flyers fans can be excited about.
The vets were also a huge part of the Phantoms’ success. Team captain Colin McDonald had a great regular season with 43 points in 71 games played. Scott Laughton also flourished for the Phantoms, notching 35 points after being sent down by the Flyers in the beginning of the season. Hopefully, this season in the minors is beneficial for Laughton, so maybe he can return to the Flyers next fall and truly be NHL-ready. Speaking of players who benefited from more time in the minors, Jordan Weal, was a major contributor. Weal tallied 47 points in 43 games for the Phantoms before being called up by the Flyers and unfortunately can’t be sent back down to help the Phantoms to help in the postseason without being put through waivers. Lastly, how could we forget T.J. Brennan? The veteran defenseman racked up 56 points (21 goals!!) in 74 games played this season.
The Phantoms will also be adding new members to their ranks for the playoffs. With Anthony Stolarz injured and out for up to four months, Alex Lyon assumes responsibilities as the number one goaltender. Moving into the backup role is an 18-year-old prospect, Carter Hart. In 54 games with his CHL team, the Everett Silvertips, Hart put up a 1.99 Goals Against Average and a .927 Save Percentage.
Carter Hart told me he’s headed to join the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philly’s AHL affiliate) tomorrow.
— Jesse Geleynse (@JesseGeleynse) April 15, 2017
College defenseman, Mark Friedman also joined the Phantoms. Friedman put up 26 points in 40 games with Bowling Green State University, and in his Phantoms debut had an assist on aTaylor Leier goal.
GOAL! Taylor Leier (13th) from Scott Laughton and Mark Friedman.
First pro point for Friedman. 2-0 Phantoms.
— Bob Rotruck (@BobRotruck) April 16, 2017
Through the end of the season, the Phantoms have guaranteed themselves home ice. In the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs, they’ll play longtime rivals, the Hershey Bears who finished their season by defeating the Providence Bruins. This series has the potential to get rough with a lingering rivalry and Sam Moring beating the Bears captain pretty badly…
Here’s a quick replay of Sam Morin beating on the Bears’ captain last night in Hershey. At the time, I was shocked Morin was challenged. pic.twitter.com/sxIyObARzs
— Tony Androckitis (@TonyAndrock) January 15, 2017
As we are without playoff hockey in Philadelphia, let’s hope the Phantoms can take care of business in the first round, so they can most-likely play their biggest rivals, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the second round. It would be sweet for the Phantoms to bounce the Pens’ affiliate out of the playoffs and hopefully go on their way to win the Calder Cup once again.