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Sandstrom, Phantoms Outlast Bears

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Despite all odds, it was another win for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms over the Hershey Bears Sunday afternoon. Goaltender Felix Sandstrom made 33 saves, and a goal from Morgan Frost helped lift the home team to a 3-2 decision on Super Sunday.

This weekend, Zach Fucale suffered his second loss in as many games against the Phantoms with 18 saves. Hayden Hodgson and Cal O’Reilly also scored for the Phantoms, who continue to find success against the Bears this season with top Flyers prospects coming through.

It was a much closer contest than the one on Friday as the Bears opened the scoring with Marcus Vela’s second goal in as many games. Vela made a great deflection in front of Sandstrom, deflecting a shot that might have otherwise gone wide into the net for his fourth of the season. However, the Phantoms hung around with the Bears despite being outshot each period, largely due to Sandstrom.

Lehigh Valley would eventually score with Hodgson burying a blast from the left circle on the power play and take the lead in the third when Frost deflected a rising shot past Fucale. The shot initially appeared to be deflected above the crossbar, but the goal was determined to be good after a brief review. O’Reilly would score on the empty net, and the Bears would score at about the buzzer with Mason Morelli’s seventh of the season.

The game was a much scrappier one than Friday, which saw Bears newcomer Nick Isaacson drop the gloves in a spirited tilt with Brennan Saulnier. The feisty Phantom forward found himself in a tough situation in the third after a missed hit on Vela saw him bloodied and take a penalty after going into the boards.

This was the final of three games in as many nights for both teams. Plus, it was a quick turnaround for this afternoon’s game. There was plenty of energy between the Phantoms and Bears. Although, fans of the two teams during the early stages of the rivalry would call it child’s play compared to those days.

The decision is the fourth straight on home ice over the Bears, as the Phantoms continue to try and push out of the basement of the Atlantic Division and into the expanded playoff field this season. The Bears continue to lose ground on the top two spots in the division but are by no means out of the field by very much to the Springfield Thunderbirds or the Hartford Wolf Pack. The points in the lone game of the day would have very much benefitted the Bears, but it appears to be an issue to challenge another day.

Among impressive stats on the weekend, Morelli continued his hot streak with a goal in three straight games and a five-game point streak. Vela tallied a goal and an assist for the second straight game and third time during his tenure with the Bears, as his signing has been a strong addition for the team during a prolonged absence of its top players. Hodgson scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season, and Adam Clendening had an assist for his 23rd helper on the season, moving to fourth among AHL defenders in points with 28.

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