Today the Lehigh Valley Phantoms close out their inaugural season in Allentown against the most fitting partner and their most intense rivalry this season, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Sunday’s late-afternoon puck drop between the Phantoms and the Penguins marks the 12th and final meeting between the two new rivals, with Lehigh Valley earning a 5-5-1 record against Wilkes-Barre this season, and 2-2-1 versus the Penguins at home.
The Phantoms final weekend of play was a tiring one, as the team will complete its last leg of a three-in-three weekend, after traveling to Norfolk and Hershey this weekend. But the team made it home last night after a rough 5-1 loss Hershey, the winner of the East Division, to officially end a long season in front of their passionate home crowd tonight.
Rob Zepp will likely start in net, as Anthony Stolarz made his final start this season last night in Hershey. The 21-year-old goaltender stirred up some controversy Saturday after he was hit late by Bears forward Kris Newbury after the final horn sounded ending the second period. The hit went unpenalized, which left head coach Terry Murray to defended Stolarz and question the no-call. Murray received an unsportsmanlike conduct minor to start the third period, but was eventually ejected from the game after the Bears went up 5-1 midway through the final frame.
- Tuesday, the Phantoms welcomed Nick Cousins and Brandon Manning back into the lineup after the two spent the last part of the Flyers season in Philadelphia. Manning, however, began having lower-back spasms Tuesday against the Bears and has not returned to the Phantoms lineup since. Steven Delisle was also injured in the same game, and has not returned.
- Cousins leads the Phantoms in points over the Penguins with two goals and seven assists. Cousins has 56 total points this season, leading the Phantoms in scoring despite his late season stint with Philadelphia.
- Rob Zepp has posted .915 save percentage and 2.48 GAA in 10 games against Wilkes-Barre. With Penguins phenom goaltender Matt Murray holding an impressive .956 save percentage and 1.21GAA. Murray is the leagues top goaltender as the rookie has earned 12 shutouts this season, just one shy of tying the league record with 13, set in 2004 by Jason LaBarbera. Murray was also named the AHL's Rookie of the Year.
- Matt Konan played in his first game since sustaining a concussion in December 2013, paired with newbie Nick Luukko Saturday in Hershey. With Manning and Delisle’s health still in question, it is likely the two will be linemates tonight against the Penguins.
- Despite their elimination from the playoffs two-weeks ago, the Phantoms (33-34-7-1) can clinch a share of third-place in the East Division tonight with a win over the Penguins (44-24-3-4), who secured the fourth overall seed in the Eastern Conference.