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Phantoms, AHL seasons are officially canceled

American Hockey League (AHL) president and chief executive officer David Andrews last Monday delivered news to teams and fans that wasn’t unexpected but also wasn’t wanted.

The league has officially decided to cancel the remainder of their regular season and the Calder Cup Playoffs for the league because of the coronavirus. The season was suspended March 13 and standings and statistics through March 12 will be considered official for the 2019-2020 season.

“The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas for the 2020-21 season,” said Andrews in a release on Monday morning.

Later, in a separate release to fans via Twitter and the league’s website, Andrews spoke of how difficult the past couple of months have been and emphasized that the league and its 31 teams are planning on a 2020-21 season that they hope to have begin on time this fall.

“The last two months have been trying for all of us as we navigate through these times of uncertainty. Along with many other things that we normally take for granted, sports have taken a back seat in our lives. But we look forward to coming together with you all again as soon as the time is right,” said Andrews in his open letter to the league’s fans.

The standings and statistics as they were after all games of March 12 are official, leaving the Milwaukee Admirals to be named the Central Division, Western Conference and AHL league champion, with the league’s best record (41-14-5-3) and the most points (91). While they will be recognized as the league champion, it is unclear as to whether they will officially be awarded the league’s Calder Cup Trophy, given annually to the league champion. Early indications are that the trophy will not be officially awarded for the season.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms finish the season with a record of 24-28-3-7 and 58 points, which ranked 26th in the league. The Providence Bruins (38-18-3-3, 81 points) will be awarded the Atlantic Division with the Phantoms finishing seventh in the eight-team division. The Phantoms do not have any players qualifying to be the league leader in any statistical categories. For team highs, Greg Carey finishes as the team leader in goals (15) and points (30) while Cal O’Reilly will finish with the team lead in assists at 23.

NOW WHAT?... The Phantoms announced that fans having tickets for any of the canceled games will receive a credit for tickets to a game or games during the 2020-2021 season. Season ticket holders were sent an email regarding their status and fans purchasing single game tickets through a third-party company will need to follow the refund policies of those companies. Fans are encouraged to check the team’s website at phantomshockey.com for answers to their questions regarding refunds or credits.

#GOALSFORLV... The Phantoms introduced a fundraiser to benefit the Lehigh Valley Health Network’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Fans were invited to record themselves taking shots at any item they deemed a goal and asking them to contribute one dollar per shot taken in 20 seconds. The time limit was set to coincide with the recommended time for hand washing. The team will match the first $10,000 worth of donations. Through the first two weeks of the fundraiser, the team has raised $6,500.