So far, the 2019-2020 season has been one for the kids on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms roster.
An offseason that saw the roster somewhat remade left plenty of opportunities for young players and they produced right from the season’s first puck drop. Some of them – Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost and Phil Myers – found a fast track to Philadelphia thanks to their early production with the Phantoms.
In minor league sports, coaches and managers have different ways of telling a player that they’re getting that first call to the highest level of their sport. Former Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Dave Brundage used to enjoy having a bit of fun at the player’s expense, sometimes letting them think they were being passed over or that the coaches were concerned about their play lately before he would let the cat out of the bag and give out the good news. For Phantoms coach Scott Gordon, the approach is a little more straight forward and businesslike.
The Phantoms clicked their skates together three times and said “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”
With that, the team that had lost four straight returned to winning form with back-to-back wins taking two of the three games on their recent homestand.
The good news for the team is that three of its next five games are also on home ice, giving the team some momentum.
Last December, the Phantoms lost top goalie prospect Carter Hart to the Flyers when goalie Anthony Stolarz went on injured reserve. This season, they were blessed with another top prospect on the roster, but he didn’t even last as long as Hart.
The Flyers recalled Morgan Frost Monday and it’s likely that he will see his first NHL action with the team immediately.
The Phantoms Tyler Wotherspoon is just one member of the family playing in the AHL, with the other being his brother Parker Wotherspoon, who plays for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Growing up the two were generally at different levels because of a four-year age difference. Their paths diverged even further as they got older and even through junior hockey, the two never got to play against each other.
Tyler, 26, was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft and 22-year old Parker was selected by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft.
Sam Morin is trying to catch a break.
After missing most of last season recovering from knee surgery, the 24-year old defenseman hoped to break camp with the Flyers and get things going in his career.
He did break camp with the team, but was a healthy scratch through their first eight games of the season.
When he finally did get a chance to play against the Islanders he was basically outmatched and out-skated. With the long layoff, it’s hard to blame Morin for the performance, but it’s also hard to blame Flyers coach Alain Vigneault.
With the Lehigh Valley Phantoms well stocked with young, exciting talent and the Philadelphia Flyers off to a 1-4 start, changes came quickly to ignite the parent team with some youthful exuberance.
Joel Farabee and Mikhail Vorobyev were recalled by Philadelphia on Sunday, while Carsen Twarynski was loaned to the Phantoms.
In their season opener, the Phantoms had a bunch of near-misses when it came to shots. The team’s chemistry looked a little off as a number of new faces, many of them young, inexperienced pro players, tried to fit together into a cohesive unit.
They quickly put the opening 3-0 shutout to Providence aside and came out firing against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The result was a 4-1 win, which they followed up with an overtime loss to another rival, the Hershey Bears.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finished up their preseason schedule Monday night at the PPL Center, falling to the Hershey Bears 2-0. Both teams finished the preseason with identical 2-1-0-0 records and look to open the regular season this weekend. For Lehigh Valley, the opener comes at home against Providence Saturday night.
First year coach Ryan Brazuk would have loved to have his team knock off perennial power Emmaus in the season opener, but short of that, he wanted his team to play a game that they could be proud of at the end of the game.
Northampton lost to Emmaus 4-0, but Brazuk was encouraged by his team’s effort and left the field feeling proud of how his team played against one of the better teams in the Lehigh Valley.