There is still hockey going on, even if the Philadelphia Flyers season is dead and gone.
The AHL affiliate of our favorite hockey club is going strong in the first round of the playoffs as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms just wrapped up Game 1 against the Charlotte Checkers and it looks like there might be some actual reasons to pay attention.
Typically, the AHL playoffs is comprised of teams that fall into two distinct categories: Good teams led by a couple exciting prospects and a young supplemental base, or a veteran-fueled roster that has virtually no one under the age of 25 in the lineup, but just are solid with players that know this is the peak. And honestly, the Phantoms seem to be the former.
The three leading scorers for Lehigh Valley in the regular season are all under 24 years old and they are now in charge of leading their team to some postseason success. This is a bigger reason to tune in than to see a team wearing orange and black actually win some games – the trio of Tyson Foerster, Olle Lycksell, and Elliot Desnoyers could end up being something.
Thankfully, it was Foerster that decided to take charge of Tuesday night’s Game 1 and mercilessly rip out the throat of whatever a “Checker” is.
After 20 minutes, the game was tied with each team scoring a goal each in the first period. Then, the 21-year-old winger from Alliston, Ont. got the chance to finish the game in under five minutes.
Just 49 seconds into the second period, Foerster dipped and doodled around the poor Charlotte defenders and ripped home a goal to give the Phantoms the lead.
No one saw it coming. Foerster just oh so casually entered the offensive zone with three Checkers within mere feet of him, kept his head on a swivel to be aware of just what the defensive coverage looked like, did a perfectly timed toe drag that turned into a whipped wrister and a goal.
Like, seriously, how does someone manage to maneuver around other players like that and with this coverage, be able to unleash a shot with enough power?
We know that Foerster can be an offensive dynamo. In his brief stint up in the NHL with the Flyers this season, he managed to score three goals and seven points in only eight games. That is his first taste of the top level of this sport and he was still able to fully take advantage of that opportunity. God, we are so excited for this dude.
Just because he scored an immaculate goal in the first game of these playoffs doesn’t mean he was just going to coast for the rest of the game.
A total of three minutes and 57 seconds later, he got his second goal of the game and what ended up being the game winner.
It is not as pretty, but it still displays the amount of power Foerster can put on his shot without needing a whole lot of time or space.
He takes the dribbling puck out from the messy faceoff, skates around the pile of bodies at the center of the dot and unloads a shot through some traffic. It doesn’t go in cleanly, but the way the rookie is able to force it through a lot of defenders and catch the Charlotte netminder by surprise is what can make him dangerous.
Will we see something similar in the NHL? Probably not. The defender that Foerster initially skates around would be faster and more willing to close the gap (in theory) so this exact goal won’t necessarily happen. But! We can still take it all in and enjoy what might be a substantial playoff run from the Phantoms and led by would could be a game-changing prospect.