The Phantoms vs. Bears playoff series represents a clash between the AHL's highest-scoring (Lehigh Valley) and second highest-scoring (Hershey) clubs. The Phantoms racked up 260 goals during the 76-game regular season, while Hershey lit the lamp 219 times.
PHANTOMS OFFENSIVE FIREPOWER
Even without AHL All-Star Game selection Jordan Weal (15 goals, 47 points in 42 games for the Phantoms prior to dressing in 23 NHL games for the Flyers), the Phantoms have a deep and potent attack. Five different players scored 20 or more goals, four players produced at least 50 points, seven players (excluding Weal) had at least 40 points and 11 players (again excluding Weal) scored double-digit goals.
Leading the way offensively for the Phantoms was high-scoring veteran offensive defenseman T.J. Brennan (21 goals including 12 power play tallies, 60 points). He was tied for the AHL scoring lead among all defensemen. Veteran forwards such as Andy Miele (7th in the AHL with 44 assists among his 57 points), Chris Conner (22 goals, 56 points), team captain Colin McDonald (25 goals) and Greg Carey (28 goals, 51 points) brought a new dimension to the Lehigh Valley attack. Pint-sized speed demon Danick Martel recorded his second straight 20-goal season.
Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim, the Flyers' first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, spent much of the first half of the season working on his play without the puck but the speedy and offensively gifted blueliner saw the points start to come with regularity in December. After going goalless with 10 assists through the first 23 games of the season, Sanheim finished with 10 goals - nine at even strength - and 14 assists for 24 points over the remainder of the season.
Up front, the Phantoms also boasted a solid cadre of two-way forwards. Third-year pros Taylor Leier (13 goals, 37 points, +10 in 48 games) and Scott Laughton (19 goals including four shorthanded tallies, 39 points, +17 in 60 games) brought both speed and strong abilities both with and without the puck. Corban Knight (11 goals, 40 points, +8) also contributed in a variety of different ways. Cole Bardreau (nine goals, 24 points, 85 penalty minutes) added grit and tenacity.
Rookie players such as Nicolas Aube-Kubel (nine goals, nine assists in 71 games) and Radel Fazleev (six goals, 10 assists in 65 games) were expected to work on their all-around abilities this season and to earn their ice time. Both 20-year-old forwards produced a few highlights over the course of the season but are still works in progress in terms of showing consistently successful adaptation from the junior level to the pros.
While few opponents found much success when they tried to out-skate and out-chance Gordon's team, the Bears had their own array of players who found the net with regularity during the season.