Phantoms Stumble After Strong Start

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After a hot start to their inaugural season as an American Hockey League (AHL) franchise, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms have seemingly cooled off. Since their 4-1-0-0 start, they have lost their last three games including a 4-2 loss Saturday night to Hartford in their most recent outing and have a four-game road trip up next.

“The season is still young. There’s no need to really hit the panic button, I don’t think, but there’s a lot of things we’ve got to sort out,” forward Andrew Gordon said, mentioning that there needs to be more effort and for a full 60 minutes.

The Phantoms enter a crucial stretch early in the 2014-15 season as they head on their first extended road trip of the season, looking to turn things around. They’ll play four straight road games starting tonight, Nov. 5, in Worcester, Mass. and finishing next Friday night, Nov. 14, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. against the Penguins.

“A road trip can be good because you go into a trip and if you come out winning three out of four, you can feel good about that road trip,” Gordon said. “You can come back feeling like things are a little bit different.”

“It can work the other way too,” Gordon added. “If you go, show up and lose every game on the road trip, you come home feeling pretty dejected. We have to come together a little bit, have a couple days of practice and be ready for a tough road trip.”

Between the injuries in Philadelphia to defensemen Braydon Coburn and Andrew MacDonald, and in Lehigh Valley to defensemen Mark Alt and Steven Delisle, the blue line depth is certainly being tested. The Phantoms saw rookie blue liner Shayne Gostisbehere called up, only to have him returned at the end of the weekend after the Flyers called up defenseman Brandon Manning from the Phantoms and signed free agent Carlo Colaiacovo to play in the NHL with the Flyers.

The result of the moving parts left the Phantoms with only five healthy defensemen after Delisle injured himself during the team’s game day skate last Saturday morning. Unable to recall a defenseman so close to game-time, they played one short on the bench.

“We have built-in excuses, but that’s for cowards,” Gordon said about injuries and call ups short-handing them. “This is the AHL, this happens. Guys get called up, sent down, traded, moved, you’ve got a new team every year. It’s tough to find consistency in the lineup, but you have to get the job done. Find a way.”

You can follow Tony’s Phantoms coverage on Twitter @TonyAndrock_TCG

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