ALLENTOWN, Pa. – The PPL Center is back to being a house of horrors for the Hershey Bears, who dropped their fifth straight game in Allentown to the Phantoms by a 4-1 score. Two goals in quick succession for the Phantoms late in the second period spelled doom for the Bears as Wade Allison scored the eventual game-winner. The American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers shut down the Washington Capitals’ affiliate. Felix Sandstrom made 31 saves in the win, while Zach Fucale suffered the loss with 23 saves. The loss leaves the Bears with just one win in a season-long six-game road swing and has more implications on the Atlantic Division on a day for underdogs.
Despite a better performance against the Phantoms in recent times, with the Bears winning three straight meetings at Giant Center, Hershey’s road struggles again got the better of them. Hershey let a winnable game slip away as the team initially erased a 1-0 Lehigh Valley lead with a goal from Mike Vecchione on the power play. The Bears’ power play has been an eyesore, to say the least, in recent times, and despite finally breaking through in this one, it’s overshadowed by what might have been as the team ultimately went one for four while Lehigh Valley struck in one of its two chances to prove the difference. Isaac Ratcliffe, Tanner Laczynski, and Cal O’Reilly also potted goals for the Phantoms. The two teams will meet up at PPL Center again on Wednesday night. Three more games between the two teams remain in the 14 game season series.
It was a big night for standings intrigue in the Atlantic Division out of town as the Hartford Wolf Pack lost to the Charlotte Checkers, earning the latter a clinched playoff spot. At the same time, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers pulled off a late win against the Providence Bruins. The loss slips the Bears to fifth place courtesy of a tiebreaker with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The shift in points percentage brings the Islanders and Wolf Pack into a tie, broken by overall wins for the Wolf Pack by just one, and the Islanders will look to get into the playoff mix when they rematch with the Bruins on Saturday night.
Hershey will try to right the ship at home with a pair of games against the Springfield Thunderbirds. The T-Birds lost in comeback fashion to the Syracuse Crunch, and the Bears could absolutely use the points against a team they haven’t hosted since early in November. Springfield will be without former Hershey forward Nathan Walker, who is still on recall to the St. Louis Blues, and the T-Birds will look to earn their third straight win over the Bears after a pair of wins on their home ice this season.
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