The sky is falling in Lehigh Valley. Losers of four-straight, the Phantoms desperately need to turn things around while the season is relatively young. A wise person once said, “there’s no time like the present” and Lehigh Valley will look to right the wrongs Wednesday night against the Charlotte Checkers at home.
Sixteen games into the regular season, the Phantoms sit in sixth place in the Atlantic Division with a 6-5-1-4 record. On top of the four-game losing streak, Lehigh Valley is 4-4-0-2 in through their last ten games. Luckily, the Phantoms will host Charlotte for Wednesday’s matchup. To this point, the team has played better on home ice, recording 11 of their 18 points at the PPL Center.
With the departure of Morgan Frost, the Phantoms are without their top-scorer. Veteran forward, Greg Carey, now assumes the role of the team’s top-scored with five goals and seven assists. Unfortunately, no other Phantom has a double-digit point total. Andy Welinski and Cal O’Reilly are tied for second on the team with eight points. Lehigh Valley is going to need to start seeing more consistent scoring up and down the roster if they want to win more games.
The Phantoms Menace: Charlotte Checkers
The 2019 Calder Cup champions are having their own rough go of it to start the season. Members of the same Atlantic Division, the checkers are one place behind the Phantoms with a 6-6-2-0 record. Charlotte’s last ten games look similar to Lehigh Valley’s, going 4-4-2-0 in that span. At this point, Charlotte plays as well on the road as they do at home, recording the same amount of points in both scenarios.
The Phantoms and the Checkers have met twice this season. They played a back-to-back stint in late October. Charlotte won the first game 3-2 in overtime while Lehigh Valley won the second game 3-2 in regulation time. Last season, Charlotte dominated the Phantoms, winning six of their eight contests.
Charlotte does not have one person that stands out early in the scoring department. Morgan Geekie leads the team in points with ten, recording five goals and five assists. Chase Priskie, Brian Gibbons, and Rolan McKeown trail him with eight points each. Geekie, Eetu Luostarinen, and Julien Gauthier lead the Checkers in goals-scored with five apiece.
Lehigh Valley is finding themselves in must-win mode before things go completely off the rails. With so much movement throughout the organization, it’s challenging for the Phantoms to gain any sort of consistency. However, this is the beast known as the American Hockey League. When your players play well, they don’t stick around long. Wednesday is a winnable game for the Phantoms and anything short of a victory should be viewed as a failure.
Mandatory Credit: Alex McIntyre