April 22, 2023
The Phantoms' best-of-three battle against Charlotte went to the brink but ended with a blanking.
After taking a 6-0 shutout from the Checkers in the deciding Game 3 Friday night, Lehigh Valley's playoff run is over after a short, single round.
With all three contests on the road, the Phantoms held on to take Game 1, forced double overtime but eventually lost in Game 2, then just hit a wall in Game 3.
A brutal end to the AHL season, but in the long run, invaluable postseason experience for several prospects who will be key to the Flyers' future – ones who, at least through Games 1 and 2, did look like they were rising to the occasion.
Hey, sometimes you have to lose to learn how to win, right?
Here's a rundown of the Phantoms' short-lived run in the AHL's Calder Cup Playoffs:
• During Game 1, in the span of less than five minutes, Tyson Foerster made his presence known. Early in the second period Tuesday night, the 21-year old winger toe-dragged and got the shot off through three Charlotte defenders for his first of the playoffs. Then, on an offensive zone draw soon after, had another shot that was initially gloved trickle through.
Sometimes it's sheer skill and other times it's sheer luck. Doesn't really matter so long as the puck goes in, as it did for Foerster twice in Game 1.
Tyson Foerster with the toe drag and gives the @LVPhantoms the lead. pic.twitter.com/VJFE5h2XcE— American Hockey League (@TheAHL) April 19, 2023
And though he only registered a secondary assist in Game 2 on Thursday, he remained a steady headache for the Checkers throughout.
Tyson Foerster has once again been everywhere tonight. What a beautiful shift. Would like to see him shoot that last chance though. pic.twitter.com/8oOFLJq2x2— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) April 21, 2023
He took a nasty check along the boards in the third period of Game 3 that did leave him down, as everything was falling apart, but he did return.
Tyson Foerster has returned to the game, FWIW.— Tony Androckitis* (@TonyAndrock) April 22, 2023
When Foerster was up with the Flyers late this past season, the club's 2020 first-round pick looked right at home, helping drive offense for a roster that at so many points often struggled to find any. He didn't shy away from the moment then and didn't here.
There should be more of him to see in orange and black real soon.
• Defenseman Emil Andrae's promise lies in his ability to control play and move the puck, but even though he's only 5-foot-9 and 176 pounds, he clearly isn't afraid of contact. Here's the 21-year old Swede throwing the body in Game 2:
Emil Andrae can lay the boom for a smaller guy. He is not afraid of of contact whatsoever.— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) April 20, 2023
On top of the huge hit, he makes a beautiful play to help exit the zone. #Flyers pic.twitter.com/PW9g7l2epW
• And here's Elliot Desnoyers and Bobby Brink, two names also likely to compete for a roster spot next camp, connecting on the tying goal that would eventually send Game 2 into double overtime.
ELLIOT DESNOYERS TIES IT UP AT 4-4 OFF A BEAUTIFUL PLAY + PASS FROM BOBBY BRINK. #Flyers pic.twitter.com/EzcoVdilJL— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) April 21, 2023
• Goaltender Samuel Ersson, who Flyers coach John Tortorella has spoken highly of since the last camp and held his own when he was up in the NHL, has also been giving the Phantoms some clutch goaltending. He kept them ahead in the dying seconds of Game 1, and then, even though Lehigh Valley went on to lose, kept them alive through overtime in Game 2. Game 3...yeah...
FINAL: Lehigh Valley hangs on for a 4-3 win to steal Game 1 in the best-of-three first round series— Tony Androckitis* (@TonyAndrock) April 19, 2023
Down 4-1 in 3rd, Charlotte made it a one-goal game & had a Grade-A chance in closing seconds on a nice move from Mackie Samoskevich, but Sam Ersson saves the day. @InsideAHLHockey pic.twitter.com/7OAwoHP5PE
Here are a few of Sam Ersson's amazing stops in overtime including his save on Bunnaman right before the winning goal was scored. pic.twitter.com/OaB0KDTh7d— Bob Rotruck (@BobRotruck) April 21, 2023
With help from a two-goal effort from Olle Lycksell, a forward who could take on a bigger role as an NHL regular next season.
All tied up just like that. Olle Lycksell with a big goal for LV to begin the third. @InsideAHLHockey pic.twitter.com/qMDqxuMqFD— Tony Androckitis* (@TonyAndrock) April 21, 2023
• Not there for the playoff run, however, was big defensive prospect Egor Zamula. With size at 6-foot-3 and a high ceiling for breaking the puck out from his team's own end, the Flyers have been bullish about the 23-year old's potential, especially after a solid couple of years in Lehigh Valley, but he's very much a project as most defenseman of that build usually are.
Slowing the process is a shoulder injury suffered at the end of March that took away his chance to help the Phantoms in the playoffs. The Flyers announced Thursday that Zamula underwent successful shoulder surgery on April 10 and should be ready for camp come September.
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