The latest bump in the road for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms is turning into more of a complete and total car-consuming sinkhole in the road. The team broke a five-game losing streak Saturday with a 3-1 win over Utica, after which a brawl broke out as the teams headed for their respective locker rooms. That show of testosterone may have been just the thing to spark the Phantoms, but unfortunately, they came back Sunday and lost to Bridgeport.
The Phantoms had two chances to take a big step up in the Atlantic Division this past weekend and they whiffed on both chances.
The schedule had Lehigh Valley at Charlotte on back-to-back nights this past Friday and Saturday and the Checkers took both games, leaving the Phantoms in fifth place in the Atlantic Division, 19 points behind Charlotte. More importantly, Lehigh Valley is now 10th in the conference standings, which would leave them on the outside looking in at the playoffs.
Imagine how frustrating this scenario would be to live through.
You’re a highly-regarded prospect in your sport and as you move closer to reaching a point where you’re truly getting an opportunity to show what you can do at the highest levels of that sport, you can’t stay healthy. It seems like every time you rehab from one injury, another one hits.
On Saturday, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher pulled off his third trade since taking over for Ron Hextall earlier this season.
The trade sent Dale Weise and Christian Folin to the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman David Schlemko and forward Byron Froese.
Fletcher, had been trying to trade Weise – one of the bigger blunders made by Hextall, when he signed him to a four-year, $9.4-million free agent deal in July of 2016 – but until this past weekend, didn’t find any takers.
If sports teams made trades based on the popularity of their players with the fans, Taylor Leier would still be a member of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Instead, as the old saying goes, sports are a business and Taylor Leier is now a member of the Rochester Americans. The 24-year old left winger was dealt to Buffalo for right winger Justin Bailey.
If the Phantoms New Year’s resolution was to come out of the gate hot in 2019, consider their resolution to have been shorter than most of us who resolved to lose weight this year. Since putting new calendars on the wall, Lehigh Valley is 1-5-0-0 and have lost six of seven games. In those games, the Phantoms have been outscored 27-15 and have dropped to a fourth-place tie with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Most players have rolled out the usual excuses – call-ups, injuries, etc. - but can we talk about the elephant in the room?
Consider that you lose your job and have to tell your wife. That’s not fun. Now, consider that you’re going to have to tell your wife that because you lost your job, you have to move from Idaho to Quad City, Illinois for another job.
Then after one day at work, you’re again let go and now have to move 978 miles to Manchester, New Hampshire. Then, just a few weeks later, good news; sort of. You weren’t fired, but you’ve been “transferred” to Reading, Pennsylvania. So, with three pretty substantial moves in three months, how happy is your wife?
Remember in Batman how Commissioner Gordon used to shine that big bat signal in the sky to summon Batman to his office? In this case, it wasn’t a bat signal, it was a Phantoms logo and it wasn’t Commissioner Gordon doing the summoning, it was coach Gordon – Scott Gordon – being alerted to trouble in Philadelphia. And oh dear, Gordon brought his sidekick Carter Hart (too bad his first name isn’t Robin) with him for the trip down the turnpike to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
In the grand scheme of things, Connor Bunnaman’s second goal of the season wasn’t one that will be extremely memorable. His goal put the Phantoms up 1-0 in a game that they would wind up losing 4-2 to the Cleveland Monsters. What “Bunny” did with his goal though was launch an avalanche of stuffed teddy bears and other assorted animals onto the ice as part of the Phantoms annual Teddy Bear Toss.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms spent this past weekend in Canada, and boy, did they have fun.
The Phantoms swept their three-game road trip through Canada with an overtime win in Laval and two regulation wins in Belleville and Toronto. Nicolas Aube-Kubel had an especially good time on the trip, picking up two, game-winning goals.