February 19, 2019
By: Kristi Fulkerson
Since the All-Star break 22 days ago, the Phantoms have made 21 official player transactions. 21! To put that in perspective, division foes Hershey and Bridgeport have each made 4 moves in the same time period. With the NHL Trade Deadline less than a week away (Monday 2/25), there could be several more in the near future. Either way, the Lehigh Valley players are doing their best to focus on the task at hand: climbing back into a playoff spot.
It’s been a wild ride to date, losing their leading scorer, head coach, and top goalie prospect to the Flyers in December and battling numerous other injuries, call-ups, and trades. Still, the Phantoms have surged on, maintaining one of the top 4 spots in the Atlantic Division until Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the red-hot Hershey. The Bears, now in third place, tied a franchise record extending their point streak to 15 games — one that began against Lehigh Valley back on January 12th. If it wasn’t for the Phantoms shootout win over Hershey three weeks later on January 23rd — the Bears only blemish during the stretch — they would be in the midst of a 15-game winning
streak instead (as the Bakersfield Condors currently are in the Western Conference).
Looking ahead, Lehigh Valley has 23 games to go in the regular season, 13 against current playoff teams — 10 in their division. They also have half a season series to go against rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with six contests left. In other words, their strength of schedule is as tough as it gets. With a few days of practice this week at home, the team will charter a flight to Charlotte, N.C, to face the best team in the league Friday and Saturday. The Checkers boast an AHL-best 75 points and 34 wins, currently leading the Atlantic Division with an 8-point lead over second-place Bridgeport. The Phantoms and Checkers split two November meetings, a 7-4 Charlotte victory and 3-2 shootout win for Lehigh Valley.
The team returns home March 2nd against Utica for the first of 8 home games in the month.
(Photo courtesy: JustSports Photography)