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Phantoms set to open 2015-16 season

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers

The wait is nearly over.

After a 173-day hiatus, Lehigh Valley Phantoms regular season action returns to PPL Center this Saturday, October 10 when the Phantoms welcome the Syracuse Crunch for a 7:05 p.m. showdown. This Saturday's contest not only kicks off the Phantoms' second campaign playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center, but it also marks the start of the franchise's 20th Anniversary Season.

As part of Opening Night presented by The Morning Call, the first 8,500 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a FREE Phantoms Rally Towel courtesy of The Morning Call. A limited number of tickets to Saturday's highly-anticipated home opener were just released and can be purchased online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX [8499] or in-person at the Mealey's Furniture Box Office at PPL Center (701 Hamilton Street).

    

This year will also be the first under the leadership of newly-appointed head coach Scott Gordon. The ninth bench boss in team history, Gordon most recently served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2011 to 2014. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the New York Islanders for parts of three seasons from 2008 to 2010. Gordon brings eight years of AHL experience to the Phantoms.

After serving as an assistant coach for parts of three seasons, he replaced Mike Sullivan as head coach of the Providence Bruins late in the 2002-03 campaign and guided the Bruins over the next five seasons. During that time, Gordon registered a 221-141-47 overall mark en route to playoff appearances in five of those six campaigns. In his final season at the helm in Providence, the Bruins produced a 55-18-7 overall record and a league-leading 117 points earning Gordon the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award presented to the AHL's Coach of the Year.

BY THE NUMBERS
The Phantoms' Opening Night roster boasts 12 players who appeared in at least one game with the squad a season ago. That list features three of the team's top six goal scorers from a year ago in Nick Cousins (22), Petr Straka (14) and Taylor Leier (13). Cousins led all Lehigh Valley skaters in overall scoring last season with 56 total points while fellow returner Jay Rosehill paced all Phantoms last year with 219 penalty minutes.

In addition to a group of exciting returning players, the Phantoms are also excited to welcome a host of new additions to this year's lineup. Proven AHL contributors such as Colin McDonald, Aaron Palushaj, Chris Conner and Tim Brent will help spark the offense while accomplished defensemen Davis Drewiske, Matt Lashoff and Andrew MacDonald will help defend the blue line. Meanwhile, veteran goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who boasts 155 career AHL victories on his professional resume, will tend the crease alongside second-year netminder Anthony Stolarz.

The Phantoms and Syracuse Crunch faced off just twice last year but will meet four times this season as part of the restructured Eastern Conference. After this Saturday, the two sides are set to renew their Eastern Conference rivalry at the OnCenter War Memorial in Syracuse on Saturday, November 7 and Wednesday, March 2 before concluding their season series back in downtown Allentown on the final day of the regular season (April 17).

The Phantoms enter Saturday's Opening Night having won nine of their last 10 home openers and eight of the franchise's last 10 season openers.

TICKET INFORMATION
Tickets for all of the Phantoms' 38 regular season home games are available now online at pplcenter.com, by calling 610-347-TIXX [8499] or in-person at the Mealey's Furniture Box Office at PPL Center (7th & Hamilton).

RISE UP! Don't miss the action and fun of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center in downtown Allentown! Contact the Phantoms Front Office for information on season tickets and groups for the 2015-2016 season of Phantoms hockey by calling 610-224-GOAL [4625].

On the cusp of their 20th season of operation, the Phantoms are coming off their Inaugural Season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Philadelphia Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 18 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).

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