Phantoms miss playoffs, but Lappy advances Flyers AHL team
Like the Philadelphia Flyers, the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been decimated by injuries this season. They were also shorthanded as many of their quality players were recalled by the parent club.
Unlike the Flyers, the Phantoms remained in playoff contention until the end of the season, a credit to the players and first-year coach Ian Laperrière.
The Phantoms lost 479 games to a man to injury — nearly as many as the Flyers — and finished with a 29-32-16 record.
“We had 13 guys called up this year,” Laperriere said. “I was an assistant coach at Philadelphia for eight years and I don’t remember many being called up.”
feeling of pride
Laperriere was proud of the players who were recalled by the Flyers and played well in the NHL, like Hayden Hodgson, Isaac Ratcliffe, Cam York, Linus Hogberg, Gerry Mayhew and Felix Sandstrom, among others.
“When I see that, I take it personally, of course,” Laperriere said. “But for me it’s more for my staff because I know how much work we had to do this year. … When you see a kid getting called, someone you live with every day, you train with every day, and they get into the best league in the world and they do well, it is something everyone is proud of in this gym. ”
Hodgson’s development was the biggest surprise, Laperriere said.
“For the past two years he’s been playing in the East Coast League, and I didn’t even know who he was,” Laperriere said. “He started on the fourth row and played well and kept improving.”
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The 6-foot-2, 207-pound right winger later suffered a groin injury “and never played for us again. It really hurt us. We were three points out of the playoffs and we are fighting for our lives,” Laperriere said. “When you lose one of your best players, it’s hard.”
Open your eyes
Hodgson, 26, has 19 goals in 46 games with the Phantoms, and he’ll be vying for a spot with the Flyers next season. In six games with the Flyers, he had three points (goal, two assists).
“It’s funny, when they’re called, I’m the first to watch on my iPad,” Laperriere said. “I am enthusiastic about my players.”
Ratcliffe, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound left-winger, is among that group. He spent 10 games with the Flyers and had four points.
“Ratty embraced this physical big-boy game when called upon,” Laperriere said. “He has the right mindset. He’s had a bit of a taste of the NHL, and he wants to make sure he gives himself the best chance to get to the next level and stay there.
“I was proud of him. Proud of all the guys who rode.
Laperriere, who probably doesn’t have enough head coaching experience to be considered for the Philadelphia Flyers job, said it’s been a “difficult year” for both the Phantoms and the parent club. It’s been especially difficult not having Tanner Laczynski and Wade Allison for most of the season, he said. They would have been the Phantoms’ best forwards had they not been hurt and stayed in the AHL.
That said, he enjoyed his first year as a head coach.
“Personally, I liked running practices the way I wanted and bringing a structure and style of play that the team didn’t have before,” he said. “I think that’s something we can build on for next year. We’ll have guys coming back, which will make it less difficult in that regard.
Especially if they don’t have so many injuries or call-ups in the big team.