Sports

Phantoms goaltending picture adding new faces

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Patrick Williams, TheAHL.com Features Writer


The Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ goaltending picture has gotten a late-season makeover, thanks to the work of Philadelphia Flyers general manager Daniel Briere and his front office.

After a series of moves, Felix Sandstrom is back in Lehigh Valley, manning the crease with Cal Petersen. And highly regarded prospect Alexei Kolosov now calls PPL Center his home as well as the Phantoms work to track down a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

And nine years after drafting him, the Flyers finally brought Ivan Fedotov to North America last week, navigating the immigration process and signing the 27-year-old Fedotov after his Kontinental Hockey League season with CSKA Moscow ended. Fedotov arrived in Philadelphia to considerable fanfare, and he made his NHL debut on Monday against the New York Islanders.

Sandstrom returned to the Phantoms following a month in a tandem with Samuel Ersson, another Lehigh Valley graduate. Last Saturday at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Sandstrom made his first AHL appearance since Feb. 24 and stopped 31 shots to help pull out a point in a 4-3 overtime loss for the Phantoms, who are clinging to the sixth and final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.

In Kolosov, Briere has another prospect getting Flyers fans excited. The 22-year-old was a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and signed a three-year entry level contract with Philadelphia last summer, but he had to go through a complex immigration process after his KHL season ended last month.

Kolosov brings an extensive resume with him to the Phantoms, including parts of four KHL seasons. This year he went 22-21-3 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 47 games while also delivering four shutouts. His resume also includes representing Belarus in international play, starting with his being named the top goaltender at the IIHF World Junior Championship Division I-A tournament in 2021.

The Flyers have had luck utilizing the Phantoms for late-season auditions for prominent prospects. Defenseman Cam York, a 2019 first-round pick, joined the Phantoms late in the 2020-21 season from the University of Michigan. Another blueliner, 2020 second-rounder Emil Andrae, went to the Phantoms late last season after wrapping up his time in the Swedish Hockey League.

Having three qualified goaltenders on hand will leave Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere with plenty of options for the final eight games of the regular season. This Friday the Phantoms host Providence before Cleveland visits PPL Center on Saturday. A short trip on Sunday afternoon to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will complete a hectic three-in-three weekend.

Excitement is building around the young talent both the Flyers and Phantoms have and will have. With a roster stocked in part with players developed by the Phantoms in past seasons, the Flyers are still in the hunt to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs after finishing 26th in the NHL last season.

In Briere’s first season heading up the Philadelphia organization that has featured several aggressive moves, Kolosov is now another addition to a growing group of Phantoms prospects.

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