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Phantoms Double Up Bears

The Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms met up on Friday night for the latest installment of their rivalry

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms met up on Friday night for the latest installment of their rivalry, and despite a wide points gap between the two teams, the Phantoms continued their success against the Bears with a 6-3 win at PPL Center. The Phantoms jumped out to a 5-1 lead and held on a bit in the third to earn the decision, their third win in five tries over the Bears. Lehigh Valley got goals from six different skaters and had a number of key players depart with injury over the course of the game. Felix Sandstrom earned the win with 17 saves on 20 shots, while Zach Fucale was pulled after two periods with the Phantoms registering ten shots on goal in the game.

Lehigh Valley started the scoring just over a minute into play with Brennan Saulnier tallying his third goal of the season. Alex Kile would follow up only a few minutes later, and despite a power-play goal from Brian Pinho, the Phantoms would add another with Matthew Strome striking before the period ended. In the second, Logan Day and Cal O’Reilly chipped in goals to extend the Phantoms’ lead to 5-1, which led to Fucale getting pulled entering the final frame. Hershey would control the third period by and large, with goals from Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Mason Morelli cutting into the lead, but the Phantoms would seal the deal with an empty-net goal.

The Phantoms lost forward Jackson Cates prior to the game on recall to the Philadelphia Flyers, and top defensive prospect Cam York left the game with an apparent injury early in the game skating just two shifts. Linus Sandin left the game with injury, adding to the loss of Morgan Frost with a non-COVID-related illness. On the other side of the ice, the Bears were without Tobias Geisser on the blue line and had to dress a blue line comprised of three players who started the season with the South Carolina Stingrays. Despite the addition of Aliaksei Protas for the first time since November 7, a slow start was enough to doom them on this night.

Among players to factor in heavily on the score sheet, Strome and Garrett Wilson tallied a goal and two assists each, while Hayden Hodgson tallied two assists in the game. The Bears got another big performance from Mike Vecchione against his old team, tallying assists on all three goals, while Pinho extended his point streak to five games with a goal and an assist. A goal and an assist for Jonsson-Fjallby got him back on the score sheet after a three-game absence, as both he and Vecchione crossed the 30-point threshold.

The two teams will rematch for an afternoon tilt on Super Bowl Sunday at PPL Center, with the Phantoms hosting the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday while the Bears will be back at Giant Center hosting the Belleville Senators for the only time this season. The two teams are not even halfway through their 14 game season series, with most of the series yet to be played.

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