While the Philadelphia Flyers have had an up and down season thus far, their minor league affiliate has not. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are having quite the year in the AHL. The team has the second-best record and are among the top-scoring team in the league.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms Making Future Bright
Taking a look at where things were just last season, the Phantoms were far from where they currently stand. They were finding trouble figuring out who they were and spent much of the season on the outside looking in. Fast forward to now and this team knows exactly who they are.
The Phantoms find themselves right in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division. Just one year ago the team was 17-18-3 halfway through the season. Now their 26-10-2 record this season has them second in the division and in the league. Only the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have a better record at 29-9-3. The team is also the highest scoring in the league, averaging almost four goals per game.
There are many things that come into play in regards to how much the team has changed over the course of the year. Having a pair of last season’s top-scoring defensemen in Will O’Neill and T.J. Brennan has certainly helped. The addition of veterans players and the contributions from younger ones has been a good balance for the team. Everything seems to be coming together for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Greg Carey has been a key factor in the Phantoms success. His 21 goals are tied for first in the AHL. With Jake Guentzel currently playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, it’s likely that Carey will soon have the scoring title to himself. He has been able to find the back of the net quite frequently, scoring in eight of the Phantoms last 12 games. Over that stretch he has scored 10 of his 21 goals. The power play has also been a bright spot for Carey.
Greg Carey tallied his #AHL-leading 13th power-play goal and now has back-to-back two-goal games.
Here was his second goal of the day. pic.twitter.com/h6OJ79OWEi
Jordan Weal finds himself first among his teammates and third among AHLers in total scoring with 38 points. His 12 goals and 26 assists helped him to be named to the All-Star Game that will be taking place at the home of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He has tallied at least one point in 12 of the last 14 games. His recent streak has seen him produce 14 points.
Chris Conner is also among the best forwards within the organization. He is second among all forwards with 32 points, behind Weal. His total output so far this season includes 10 goals and 22 assists. He finds himself in the midst of a six-game point streak. He also had a five-game streak earlier in the season. These streaks have helped him compile 18 points in 15 games
It’s not just the offense that has been contributing. The team has seen scoring from their defensemen as well. Travis Sanheim is entering his first full pro season for the Phantoms. He got a taste of things last year when he played four games with the team. In those four games, he put up one goal and two assists. A slow start to the season has turned into much more as Sanheim has contributed with seven goals and 11 assists through 38 games. His recent two-goal outburst helped lead the comeback in a recent victory.
T.J. Brennan ended last season as the league’s best defenseman, earning himself the Eddie Shore award. He had 25 goals and 43 assists in 69 games for the Toronto Marlies. He also added five goals and four assists in the playoffs. The same success is following Brennan this season. Through 38 games, Brennan has 12 goals and 20 assists, both tops for Phantoms defensemen.
All but one of the team’s active defensemen have found the back of the net this season. Robert Haag has three goals while Will O’Neill, Sam Morin, Maxim Lamarche,and Reece Willcox all have two goals on the season. Mark Alt is the only one who hasn’t recorded a goal this season, but he had been sidelined with an injury during most of the first half of the season.
The Phantoms have also enjoyed consistent goaltending from their two netminders. Anthony Stolarz and rookie Alex Lyon have been the duo for the Phantoms this season. This tandem has proven to give the Phantoms a chance to win just about every night.
Lyon is entering his first pro season for the team, as he had spent the last three years at Yale University. He earned the NCAA Goaltender of the Year the previous two seasons. His 16 wins have him tied for second in the league. In 25 games, he has a record of 16-7-2, a 2.68 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage. He has also recorded two shutouts.
Stolarz found himself in the NHL for part of the season, due to an injury to Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth. He made his long awaited debut, appearing in four games and finishing with a 2-0-0 record and adding his first NHL shutout. In 12 games for the Phantoms he is 9-3-0 with a 2.43 GAA and a .921 SV%.
There are many more players on this Phantoms team that have contributed to the team’s success this season. Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Colin McDonald are also among the large group performing well for the team.
Some of these players have earned themselves NHL call-ups, while some others may be on the cusp of one. Nonetheless, this team gives the Flyers a lot to look forward to while the current team is struggling. With these players contributing in the AHL, it is only a matter a time before they find themselves in the NHL with the Flyers.