Headed into 2019, we look back at the first half of the 2018 season for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. What a crazy year it has been so far. The Phantoms currently sit in 3rd place in the Atlantic Division with a record of 19-10-1-2, and resume play tonight as they take on the Providence Bruins at 7 PM.
To get things started, the Phantoms got to start the season off with highly anticipated goalie prospect Carter Hart, who turned in a mixed bag of results with the Phantoms before being called up by the Flyers. He finished with a record of 9-5-2-1 with a GAA of 3.05 and a .901 SV%. He did however dazzle in his last 5 games before being called up going 4-1-0 stopping 139 of 148 shots fired his way. What a way to finish off his time in the Valley. Whether he returns remains to be seen.
Since Carter Hart is now gone, Alex Lyon has taken over between the pipes. He’s performed extremely well since Hart has been called up, with the exception of his last start versus the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins where he allowed five goals. In his last six starts, Lyon has a record of 4-1-1 and has stopped 153 of 165 shots fired his way. It’s nice to be able to rely on Lyon with Hart now up with the big boys.
Now we turn things over to the offensive side of things. The Phantoms are tied for 3rd in the AHL in goals scored with 120. They are led by LW Greg Carey who is first on the team in both goals (16) and points (34). Carey, who was just selected to the Atlantic Division All Star Team along with Phantoms Captain Colin McDonald, is also second on the team in assists with 18 on the season. Phantoms LW Tyrell Goulbourne has also come alive of late tallying six points in his last four games (4G,2A). The Phantoms are no doubt a force to be reckoned with when it comes to offense.
Special Teams, on the other hand, is a complicated situation. On one side, the Phantoms Powerplay has struggled scoring only 29 power plays in 140 opportunities, which is only good for a success rate of 20.7%. It doesn’t help that the Phantoms have the least power play opportunities in the entire Atlantic Division.
On the other hand, the penalty kill has been stellar this year. They have the best penalty kill in the AHL with a success rate of 87.3%. They’ve allowed the opposing team to score on only 16 of 126 chances.
Dont forget the Phantoms also had a coaching change in mid December. When Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol was fired, the Flyers called upon Phantoms Head Coach Scott Gordon to take over. Gordon finished with a record of 144-84-24 with the Phantoms. He was in the middle of his fourth season behind the bench with the Phantoms. Recently, the Phantoms named Kerry Huffman the interim head coach for the rest of the 2018-2019 season. They also announced Terry Murray, who had been behind the bench as both the Phantoms and Flyers Head Coach in the past, will be returning as an assistant coach.
So what’s in store for the second half of the season for the Phantoms? Hopefully lots and lots of success. It sure was an interesting first half of the season that’s for sure. From a goalie carousel, to a coaching change and more, the Phantoms are rolling into 2019 on a good note.
Photo credit: Alex Mclntyre