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Copley’s 100th Win Lifts Bears Past Phantoms

Copley’s 100th Win Lifts Bears Past Phantoms

HERSHEY, Pa. – Pheonix Copley hit a big milestone in a 3-0 shutout win for the Hershey Bears over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, reaching his 100th AHL win and second clean sheet of the season as the Bears moved to within one point in their magic number to clinch the North Division with two games left in the season. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Joe Snively, and Phil Maillet got on the score sheet for the Bears, who continued their stellar record at Giant Center improving to 12-1-2-0. Copley made 34 saves in the win, while Zane McIntyre made 24 saves in the loss for the Phantoms.

The Bears jumped out to the lead with the eventual game-winner from Jonsson-Fjallby, who got a good-luck bounce off the skate of Derrick Pouliot as the initial save spiked off his skate into the Phantoms’ net. It’s the tenth goal of the season for Jonsson-Fjallby, who is third on the Bears in goals and is the third skater to hit double digits this season. The goal was assisted by Michal Kempny in his Giant Center debut for his first AHL point.

Copley was fantastic throughout the game, making 16 saves in the first period and a couple of big stops leading up to Hershey’s second strike. Copley outdueled Tyson Foerster, who was sprung out of the penalty box in the clear. Bears head coach Spencer Carbery had much praise to give Copley in his postgame press conference, in particular his ability to bounce back after taking a loss on Wednesday.

“To respond back and play the way he did…it’s very Pheonix Copley-like. If he has an off-night, he’s so strong mentally and can just rebound right back to A+ like it was today,” Carbery said. “Pheonix Copley is the most mentally tough and strong athlete I’ve ever coached. I’ve never heard Pheonix Copley mention one negative thing about his situation or his scenario, and think about that with this whole business in professional hockey that everyone wants to get to the highest level, this is someone who has a very legitimate argument about what he’s been able to do in this league and what he’s deserving of. I’ve never heard one negative thing, he comes to work every single day and works his butt off and shows it in games.”

The Bears were able to extend their lead shortly after the biggest of Copley’s saves when Matt Moulson and Phil Maillet combined to get the puck to Joe Snively, who fired a slick shot past McIntyre to make it 2-0. The points for Maillet and Moulson were milestones, as Maillet earned his 100th assist and Moulson his 700th professional point. Hershey had a trio of players hit milestones for the game, and the Bears added one more tally from Maillet on the empty net to make it 3-0.

The Bears, much like their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals, were very shorthanded in terms of forwards. Hershey dressed eight defensemen to start the game with an extensive injury list as Riley Sutter and Mason Morelli were both unable to play in this weekend’s action, and the Bears lost a player midgame in Kempny in bizarre fashion. According to Carbery, Kempny was hurt in some incidental contact with an ice scraper during a TV timeout in the second period and was unable to return. Kempny was working his way back to game action after surgery that sidelined him for the duration of the season, but Carbery mentioned that there has been no official determination made on his status going forward.

The Bears are idle until next Saturday when they conclude their season with back-to-back home games with the Binghamton Devils and the Penguins. Bears forward Garrett Pilon made his NHL debut with the Capitals on Saturday evening in Washington’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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