The Nick Cousins’ Fanclub Newsletter 2.0 has expanded to include Jason Akeson and Brandon Manning as all 3 players notched 5 points over the weekend. No doubt that these 3 and a select handful of others have been cornerstones for Lehigh Valley this year, but the Phantoms are sure to get a boost from newest demotee, Scott Laughton. Laughton’s time with the Flyers this year appears to be up as GM Hextall seems to think Scott would be better off developing in a league where he has a better chance to succeed. Here’s a quick read from Scott on that demotion.
Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
Laughton left the team with 11 points in 13 games and picked up an assist in his first game back on Sunday giving him 12 points in the AHL this season. This is a much more promising stat line than what he left on the Flyers’ books as he had just 6 points in 31 games.
One particularly bright spot for the Phantoms in this 3 game stretch was a Powerplay that clicked for 5 PPGs in just 20 attempts. That’s a rate of 25% and anyone with any sort of hockey knowledge knows that scoring on 1/4 of your man advantages is most definitely a boon (Bridgeport have the top PP in the league at 21.8%). However.. yes, there’s a however.. the Penalty Kill was a dismal 13 for 17 which is a kill rate of 76.5% (Iowa have the worst PK in the league at 77.1%). So in short; the Phantoms had a league leading PP and league worst PK percentage last weekend compared to team averages for the year. It nearly evens out in terms of special teams play.. sigh.
Loss (3-2) February 13th vs. Binghamton
Another failed attempt at grabbing much needed points from an inferior opponent, Lehigh Valley lost their 2nd game in 7 days to the Senators. The Sens are currently last in the division with a record of 20-24-5-1, and it appears their game plan is quite simply – goad the Phantoms into games with a butt-load of penalties. There’s a summation by our own Erik Yost right over here.
Sufficeth to say there were 3 official fights and 1 set of roughing minors which very obviously should have been recorded as a fight. Steven Delisle fought twice and was ejected, Jay Rosehill picked up the third and Taylor Leier was not credited with his first professional fight as this apparently wasn’t a fight? Congrats to Taylor for standing in there against Buddy Robinson; he’s a behemoth at 6’5″ and about 230lbs.
The Phantoms were behind from the beginning of this game with Binghamton going up 2-0 at by the 17 minute mark. Cousins scored late in the 1st (assists Manning/Akeson) to bring Lehigh Valley within 1, but there just wasn’t enough push in the 2nd. This has been a disturbing trend in the play of this club and it continued as the Sens doubled LV 12-6 in 2nd period shots. There was a 3rd period push with a PP goal from Manning (assists Cousins/Akeson) and 15 shots in said period, but it was simply too little too late and Binghamton were in lock down by that point. Full highlights here.
Win (5-4) February 14th @ Wilkes-Barre Scranton
Great start in this one with an early goal by Leier (assists Cousins/Comrie) and another 1st period goal from Comrie (assist Rosehill). The Phantoms were ahead 2-1 heading into the 2nd period despite giving up 2 powerplay opportunities to the Pens; 1 of which resulted in a goal. Once again it was the 2nd period where things fell apart. WBS tied it 2-2 57 seconds into the period, added another PP goal midway through, and scored their 4th goal shortly after the 13 minute mark of the 2nd. Akeson of course answered the 3rd goal so it was briefly tied 3-3 (assists Manning/Cousins), but all told it was 4-3 after the 2nd as Lehigh Valley relinquished the lead.
Like the game against Binghamton score effects came into play and the ice was slanted in Lehigh Valley’s favour. The Pens probably collapsed a little too much into the defensive shell (shots were 13-6 LV) as Akeson scored a PP goal in the 3rd sending it to overtime (assists Cousins/Sauve) . Nothing was decided in that extra frame and the game went into a shootout where Straka and Leier scored to give the Phantoms a big win against WBS who are 7-1-1-1 in their last 10 games.
I should mention that the folks at Mohegan Sun Arena went all out as WBS and LV skated on pink ice for Valentine’s Day! The Pens also sported some slick pink accented jerseys, but of course the Phantoms didn’t join in and just wore black and orange. Boo. Aside from that this game was pretty tame, no fisticuffs to speak of, but some nifty passing plays. Not a typical Phantom game..
Win (5-4) February 15th @ Springfield
Finishing off a successful weekend with a win against the recently-struggling-yet-5th-in-the-conference Springfield Falcons was another step in the right direction for Lehigh Valley. In typical Phantoms fashion they jumped out to an early lead thanks once again to Leier who scored just 7 minutes into the game (assist Laughton). Let’s just stop here and say there was a fight late in the 1st and Brett Hextall is nuts.. much like his old man Ron he looks like he loves to fight. Kerby Rychel was the unlucky recipient of a pounding and then Brett seemed to challenge the entire Springfield bench. That’s at about the 2 minute mark; classic. I make no apologies for the potato that was used to film Springfield’s highlights. Please take up your complaints with the team.
Continuing in typical Phantoms fashion Springfield scored twice in the 2nd period, BUT.. yes a big but. Lehigh Valley actually won the 2nd period by scoring 3 of their own goals! Akeson scored unassisted cruising down the wing and through the slot before sniping one on Oskar Dansk who only stopped 11 of 15 shots through 2 periods. Just a minute and a half later Stortini hammered in a rebound on a Powerplay (assists Manning/Leier) and he followed that up by smashing in another rebound just 5 minutes after that (assists Rosehill/Fyten)! If you’re watching the highlights stay tuned after that goal for the Jay Rosehill vs. Mathieu Gagnon scrap immediately after that goal.. it was the hockey fight equivalent of a nuclear war.. seriously this looked like Probert vs. Cox.
With the 4-2 lead Lehigh Valley employed the same tactics as Binghamton and Wilkes-Barre Scranton had earlier in the weekend; collapse into a defensive shell and give up way too many opportunities (3rd period shots were 13-7 in favour of the Falcons). As a direct result of this Springfield scored twice in the final frame to send the game to overtime. Andrew Gordon turned out to be our savior in this game though as he poked the puck off a Falcon defender’s stick at the Phantoms’ blueline and broke away on his own. A neat little forehand-backhand move – top shelf – game over. With the 2 weekend wins Lehigh Valley are 5 points out of 8th position in the Conference. If there were ever a time to go streaking, it would be now.
Rob Zepp who was fresh off the injured reserve played all 3 games this weekend and was pretty unspectacular all-in-all. He ended the 3 game stretch with a 3.66 goals against average and only stopped 88% of the shots he faced. It was kind of the opposite way Lehigh Valley have been playing this year in that they didn’t depend totally on their goaltending to win. Instead they went out and either scored early and often or were able to climb back into games after falling behind. Definitely nice to see the Phantoms win without Zepp or Stolarz making 40 saves.
Flyers Prospects in the Professional Ranks
Scott Laughton (2012 – 1st Round)
Since returning from his concussion he had no points, blocked 2 shots, threw 6 hits, and fought Niskanen (Matt definitely won the fight by the way) who gave him the concussion in the first place. He had seen his playing time reduced as he was playing with Ryan White and other mutts so it was no surprise he was sent to Lehigh Valley on Saturday. He suited up and notched an assist for the Phantoms. Personally I feel there’s nothing wrong with keeping Scott in the AHL to avoid rushing a good prospect into a situation where he will fail.
Robert Hagg (2013 – 2nd Round)
The defensive pairings have been pretty fluid lately for the Phantoms as Hagg played with Manning, Lauridsen and Comrie this weekend. No matter where Hagg plays though it appears he’s happy just to be here and not to lead the charge. His playing time has been reduced as guys like Adam Comrie have really grabbed ahold of their opportunities. He’s only 19 so some set backs at the pro level are definitely okay. Lots of room for Hagg to grow. After a hot start to the season he sits at just 18 points in 44 AHL games.
Petr Straka (Free Agent)
Petr has been demoted to the dregs of the checking units and now with Laughton returning he’ll likely be staying there as the Phantoms have a lot of talent in the top 2 lines. Despite that he’ll probably continue to pick up some PP time, he scored a shoot out goal and fired 9 shots on goal on the weekend. He’s a skilled player, just needs to find consistency at the pro level.
Mark Alt (Free Agent)
Finally returned from a nasty broken hand, let’s hope he stays healthy this time. He’s played just 21 games this year, but he’s been with captain Brandon Manning in his first 2 games back both of which were Lehigh Valley wins. No points in those 2 games, but if he stays with Manning those will come.
Oskar Lindblom (2014 – 5th Round)
No points in his last 3 Swedish League games – 10 points in 29 games for Brynas IF Galve.
Valeri Vasiliev (2012 – 7th Round)
Picked up an assist in his last 3 games with Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo – 5 points in 35 KHL games.
Other Flyers Prospects in College or Junior
Michael Parks (2010 – 5th Round)
U North Dakota website had the headline ‘Parks and Wreck’ after they hosted Denver Friday night. The Senior had 2 goals on the night in a 4-2 win, he’s now notched 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points in 29 games. Not too shabby.
Radel Fazleev (2014 – 6th Round)
2 points in 4 games for Radel gives him 41 on the year in 56 WHL games. Matt Bernot projects Fazleev (right now) as a bad 3rd line wing, but it’s hard to tell just how good he is since his WHL points-per-game ratio will probably go way up in the following couple of junior seasons. Plus Radel projects more as a checking-defensive forward than a scorer, so if he ended up as a 3rd line player I think that would be a pick well spent in the 6th round.
Travis Sanheim (2014 – 1st Round)
51 points in 52 games is nothing to be modest about as Sanheim now has 19 points in 14 games since failing to make Team Canada. He’s just 4 points behind Joe Hicketts, who basically snapped up Travis’ spot on that team, for the WHL lead among defensemen. It would certainly be an accomplishment if Travis could catch Hicketts and win the scoring title.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (2014 – 2nd Round)
The Val d’Or Foreurs have come back from afterthoughts to become a legitimate playoff team in the Q. A big part of that has been Nicolas Aube-Kubel. He’s racked up 8 points in 3 games and had absolutely been on fire since early December. 2 goals and 6 assists in 3 wins last week, he sits at 64 points in 48 games.
Aube-Kubel drives the net vs. the Armada (photo via 24montreal.canoe.ca)
Tyrell Goulbourne (2013 – 3rd Round)
2 points in 3 games gives the agitator 36 points in 49 games for WHL contender Kelowna. Tyrell had been playing with newcomer Leon Draisatl (Oilers) who picked up 7 points in 3 games last week. Not a bad center a the WHL level.
Sam Morin (2013 – 1st Round)
Picked up another point in 1 game but was suspended 2 games for absolutely wall-papering Sam Dove-McFalls from behind. That’s not a very nice looking play Sammy. 23 points in 24 games for Morin.
Mark Friedman (2014 – 3rd Round)
Picked up another assist while visiting Ferris State for his 16th point of the season in 32 contests. Great rookie season for Mark as he’s become an integral part of Bowling Green’s attack from the back end.
Merrick Madsen (2013 – 6th Round)
No action since his 1 partial game. C’mon Harvard.. give him a chance.
Marcel Noebels (2011 – 4th Round
Back from a broken finger Noebels has chalked up a single point in his 3 games back for Berlin. 7 goals and 8 assists in 31 German League games.
Nick Luukko (2010 – 6th Round)
A rare 2 points in 2 games for Senior Nick Luukko on the weekend gives him 11 points in 30 games for UVM. Luukko received some Powerplay time and made the most of it picking up 2 assists in a 3-2 win; the first of a 2 game set at Boston College. BC came back to win 6-5 in the 2nd game and Luukko was scoreless.
Reece Willcox (2012 – 5th Round)
Just 1 game in the last week for Willcox who still sits at 4 points through 21 games. He played in the 3-2 loss to Dartmouth on Friday and registered a shot with a +1, but was out of the line-up for Cornell’s 3-3 draw with Harvard on Saturday.
Terrance Amorosa (2013 – 5th Round)
Has now suited up for 3 in a row for Clarkson U and picked up his first College goal! He scored in the 1st vs. Princeton, but Clarkson eventually lost 2-1 to the ECAC’s worst team (2-14-2). They also lost 4-1 to Quinnipiac the ECAC’s best squad (15-2-1) as they now sit at 8-8-2 in the Conference. Not a great weekend.
David Drake (2013 – 7th Round)
Scoreless now in 5 games straight for UConn, Drake has 1 goal and 4 assists in 27 games. The Huskies are struggling at just 6-9-4 in Hockey East as they lost a pair of games to Northeastern U by a combined score of 15-1. Yikes. They’ve now given up 25 goals in 4 games, and 1 of those was a 1-0 win against Merrimack!