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Bears Move to First in Win Over Phantoms

Bears Move to First in Win Over Phantoms

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Hershey Bears and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms met up for the first time at PPL Center this season in the third installment of 14 of this season series between the two Pennsylvania state rivals. With the exception of a playoff-clinching win late last season, the Phantoms dominated the set of games in their arena, but on Wednesday night the Bears got a third period goal from Mike Sgarbossa that stood up as the winner as Hershey won their fifth straight game to jump into first place in the Atlantic Division as well as the American Hockey League in conjunction with a regulation loss for the Providence Bruins. Zach Fucale earned the win in goal with 18 saves while Samuel Ersson suffered the loss in goal with 33 saves.

The Bears leapt out front with the only goal of the first period as Hendrix Lapierre scored his fifth goal of the season on a nifty team passing play. Bobby Nardella beat the pressure with a neat move and fed it to Henry Rybinski, who quickly slid it to the Washington Capitals’ first round pick in 2020 for the easy tuck. The Phantoms would respond in the second period on a nice play resulting in Olle Lycksell’s fourth goal of the season off a nice play by Cooper Marody to swing it back into a tie game.

Hershey has found scoring up and down their lineup when it’s most needed, and the trend continued with another former first round choice in Connor McMichael, who delivered a laser of a shot on the power play for his second. McMichael has two goals and one shootout tally in six games since being assigned to the Bears, and his shot looked reminiscent of the big performances he had as a Bear during the 2020-21 season that were so memorable. Lehigh Valley tied the game again at two with an unusual one for Garrett Wilson, as the veteran forward went to work and popped a shot from the goal line up and over the shoulder of Fucale to bring the score even at two for his fourth of the season.

With the game a little dicey in the final frame, Hershey pulled in front when a point shot from Dylan McIlrath hit the crossbar and dropped down into the feet of Sgarbossa, who was able to just barely nudge it over the goal line for his fourth of the season. Hershey outlasted Lehigh Valley and added an empty net goal off the stick of Ethen Frank for his sixth of the season to take this one by a score of 4-2. The win caps off an impressive month of November for the Chocolate and White with 11 wins in 13 games and their rise to the top of the standings board is the cherry on top of their impressive work this month. Among notable performances for the Bears, Sgarbossa tallied a goal and two assists while Nardella had a pair of helpers and Frank had a goal and an assist in this one.

Hershey will be back in action on Sunday afternoon when they host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center while Lehigh Valley gets back at it on Friday when they travel to Charlotte to take on the Checkers. The two teams get familiar with each other a bit as they’ll play four of their next five games against each other, which will surely be games to watch for AHL fans as December gets underway.

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