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Phantoms Down Bears

HERSHEY, Pa – It was another close contest between the Hershey Bears and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Giant Center in the season’s second matchup between the two teams. Lehigh Valley used an excellent second period, scoring goals at even strength, on the power play, and two shorthanded goals to hand the Bears a 4-1 loss on home ice. Felix Sandstrom got the win with 31 saves, while Pheonix Copley suffered the loss with 18 stops.

For all of what the game turned out to be, it was another strong start for the Bears on home ice as they opened the scoring early. Hershey’s top line came through as Garrett Pilon collected the puck and made an excellent pass to Mike Sgarbossa for his fifth of the season to give the Bears a 1-0 lead early. Hershey outshot Lehigh Valley by a 9-6 count in the first and played well despite a significantly different lineup than the one that took the ice even a week prior.

Lehigh Valley responded with perhaps their best single period of the season in the second, tallying 53 seconds into the second period when Max Willman scored on a perfect deflection in front of Copley to even the score at one. The Phantoms would then rattle off three goals on special teams in just over three minutes, starting with Gerry Mayhew capping a brilliant passing play on the power play that ended up being the game-winner. Hershey would surrender two goals on the same power play, starting with a breakaway goal for Jackson Cates, followed by a goal by Cal O’Reilly to extend the lead to 4-1, capping off the scoring.

“I thought our game plan was working to a T,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the game. “We had a tough turnover 53 seconds into the second period, and then it was a span of less than three minutes and thirty seconds that we gave up a power-play goal and two shorthanded goals. We came right back at them on five on five play, obviously we didn’t score aside from the one goal, but three and a half minutes cost us the game tonight.”

The Bears were dealing with a number of roster changes with some more recalls to the Washington Capitals. Goaltender Zach Fucale and center Aliaksei Protas were recalled earlier in the day. Also, the Chocolate and White were without Dylan McIlrath due to suspension and Cody Franson with an apparent injury. This comes as the Bears have been without Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Brett Leason due to recall, in addition to injuries to Brian Pinho, Eddie Wittchow, and Mike Vecchione. Suffice to say; it will continue to be a challenge for the Bears to overcome in their absence.

Hershey plays the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday, while Lehigh Valley travels to Providence on Friday night.

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