After beating the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have made the Calder Cup Playoffs.
It was a long time coming; 2008-09 was the last time they made the playoffs. Since that season, an era of sub-0.500 play wreaked the the top farm team of the Philadelphia Flyers, with their best year being the 2011-12 season (they had a .513 winning percentage then).
This also marks the first time the Lehigh Valley will see playoff hockey in the Phantoms’ third season of playing in Allentown. Before then, they played five seasons in the Adirondacks (Glens Falls, NY, to be exact). The last time they made the playoffs was also the last year they played in Philadelphia.
Basically, they’ve been very bad.
In a year without Flyers playoff hockey, this is a redeeming feeling. The future is coming, and it’s coming very quickly. The Scott Gordon-led team has already seen a 22-point improvement over last year, and that is at least partially due to players coming through the pipeline for the Flyers.
They currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division, and unless any craziness happens between now and their final game on Saturday night, they will be playing the Providence Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
It’s absolutely thrilling to see this team reach the playoffs this year. While the Reading Royals have also clinched the playoffs, the Phantoms have always been the Flyers’ team. For the fans that have fond memories of watching the Philadelphia Phantoms win two Calder Cups in a span of eight years, this is your chance to see the Flyers of the future compete for another Calder Cup. They have a great chance as well; they have 11 players who are in double digits in goals, are led by a beautiful defense consisting of Samuel Morin, T.J. Brennan, Travis Sanheim, and Robert Hagg (to name a few), and have a fantastic goaltending duo of Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz (who unfortunately left the ice unable to put any weight on his left leg due to an injury suffered during the game tonight).
Playoffs start next week. Let’s see if the Valley can have a Calder Cup to their name. Go Phantoms.