Bethlehem Press

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Phantoms ready to hit ice for another year

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 by chuck hixson Special to the Press in Sports

There are still a few decisions looming for the Philadelphia Flyers that will affect the roster of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who open their fifth season in the valley on Saturday at home.

The situation in goal is somewhat fluid at this point.

Alex Lyon, who spent considerable time with the Phantoms last season, was destined to return to Lehigh Valley but an injury suffered in a pregame warmup has sidelined him for about a month, which will delay his arrival in the Lehigh Valley. Another injury, this one to goalie Michael Neuvirth, means that Brian Elliott and Anthony Stolarz are set to open the season with Philadelphia. At this point a year ago, Stolarz had lost his shot at making the Flyers because of an injury that caused him to miss much of last season. This year, the injuries to Neuvirth and Lyon gave Stolarz the opening that he needed to make the NHL team out of camp.

The Phantoms already had goalies Branden Komm and Jason Kasdorf on their roster and on Sunday, uber-prospect Carter Hart, a second-round pick of the Flyers in the 2016 Draft, was sent from Philadelphia to Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms already have goalies Branden Komm and Jason Kasdorf on the roster and you have to wonder who is going to wind up where. It’s likely that either Komm or Kasdorf will wind up heading down Route 222 to Reading to open the season with the Royals.

The Flyers said that they wouldn’t rush the 20-year old Hart, who had a huge junior season last year that had him in the hunt for a roster spot with Philadelphia. Even with the injuries, the Flyers resisted the temptation to rush Hart to the NHL and he’ll fit in somewhere – likely getting the biggest chunk of playing time – with the Phantoms.

Defenseman Philippe Myers is also a top-50 NHL prospect, who was returned to Lehigh Valley over the weekend and seems destined to make his debut with the Flyers at some point during the season. Another top defenseman, 22-year old Mark Friedman, a third-round pick in 2016, was also sent down to Lehigh Valley. Friedman had a good camp with the Flyers and they like his physical style of play, which leads you to believe that he might not spend the entire season with the Phantoms.

The Phantoms are also young at forward with a pair of 21-year olds in Connor Bunnaman and Carsen Twarynski. The two young players could make for a formidable duo with Lehigh Valley, adding some punch to the offense.

The biggest standout from the three Phantoms preseason games was their ability to kill penalties. They allowed just one power play goal in the three games and that came on a five-on-three disadvantage. They also scored on three of their four power play opportunities in their last preseason matchup.

TRAVELING DOWN ROUTE 22... Defenseman Frank Hora and forward Michael Huntebrinker were loaned to Reading by the Phantoms. Three other players, forwards Shane Walsh and Adam Schmidt, along with defenseman Adam Larkin were returned to the Royals. Defenseman Steven Johnson was released.

THE EARLY SCHEDULE... The Phantoms open with home games Saturday and next Friday before a quick trip to Springfield to play the Thunderbirds on October 13th. The following weekend is the first time that the Phantoms play three games in three days this season as they have a home-and-home series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday and Saturday and then travel to Bridgeport for a Sunday afternoon game on October 21st.