The Phantoms take on the No. 1 team in the league, the Manchester Monarchs, today in a 3:05 matinee in their second game in 1.5 days. Saturday Manchester clinched the first playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 92 points.
Saturday night the Phantoms beat East Division rival, Wilks-Barre in a 4-1 decision at home, boosting the teams faltering momentum for the final 11 games of the regular season. Lehigh Valley played 40 minutes of their best hockey Saturday night after a tough week of practice and an "embarrassing" showing Wednesday and Sunday, where they were outscored 10-1 on home ice.
Manchester dropped a 6-2 decision to second-place Hershey last night for its first regulation loss in seven games.
The Phantoms played Manchester once this season during a four-game road trip in November where Lehigh Valley beat the Monarchs in a 3-2 decision. Alternate captain Andrew Gordon had two goals in the win. The Phantoms landscape has changed drastically since that road trip in November, however. Now Lehigh Valley is 11 points behind the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, and 25 points behind the conference leader.
- Saturday Mark Alt and Oliver Lauridsen played in Philadelphia after an early morning emergency recall to the Flyers, after the locker room was hit with a case of the flu. Alt played 9:25 in his NHL debut paired with Lauridsen. After the final buzzer of the Flyers 3-2 shootout loss to the Sharks, Alt, Lauridsen and Jason Akeson boarded a bus back to Lehigh Valley. Alt and Lauridsen were scratched Saturday for the Phantoms to avoid making them play two games in one day. Akeson, however, who was a scratch in Philadelphia played on the first line for the Phantoms just four hours after leaving the Wells Fargo Center, and earned three assists in Lehigh Valley’s 4-1 win over Wilkes-Barre.
- Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said Alt and Lauridsen will be making their return to the Lehigh Valley lineup this afternoon against Manchester.
- ATO signee Nick Luukko made his pro debut last night against Wilkes-Barre, but with the return of Alt and Lauridsen to the d-line, Murray indicated that Luukko will likely be scratched today.
- Rob Zepp earned a win yesterday saving 33-of-34 shots against Wilkes-Barre, and faced 19 shots in the final 20 minutes of play. Zepp will start in goal again today against Manchester.