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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Snively, Bears Down Phantoms

#AHL | The sixth meeting so far this season between the @LVPhantoms and @TheHersheyBears came down to one standout: Joe Snively. Join @FPHBears as he recaps the latest in this AHL Battle of Pennsylvania. 

Vincent Iorio battles off some pursuit in Hershey's win over Lehigh Valley. Photo via the Hershey Bears on Twitter.

Snively, Bears Down Phantoms

ALLENTOWN, Pa. – It might be halfway through the American Hockey League’s 2022-23 season, but there has already been plenty of matchups between the Hershey Bears and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The latest clash, the sixth of the season, was on Wednesday night at PPL Center. With crucial points on the line for the teams, the game came down to the third period, where Joe Snively’s goal one minute in stood up as the 5-2 game-winner in a three-point night. Zach Fucale earned the win with 20 saves, while Samuel Ersson took the loss with 22 stops.

The teams traded goals in the opening two periods as Connor McMichael opened the scoring with his ninth of the season as the rebound of Dylan McIlrath’s point shot hit him in the skate and went in the net. Lehigh Valley countered with Elliot Desnoyers tallying his 14th goal to pace all Phantoms goal scorers as he beat Fucale from the slot. In the second period, Snively tallied his first goal of the game on the power play as Henrik Borgstrom spotted him all alone with a wide-open net for a power-play marker. The goal marked Snively’s 100th professional point to wrap a milestone into the goal.

Lehigh Valley evened the game with Hayden Hodgson’s second goal of the campaign as he got around a defender and beat Fucale. The Bears, who entered Wednesday’s game after a comeback win over Belleville in which they tallied four goals in the third, nearly topped themselves by adding three goals in the third period. Snively tallied his second goal of the game and third point of the game by beating Ersson over the shoulder off the rush. The scoring forward has matched his pace of a year ago, as he has seven points in six games since joining the Bears. Hershey added two more goals courtesy of Mason Morelli, who hadn’t lit the lamp since the last time the Bears were in Lehigh Valley on December 21. This started with a deflection goal on the power play and finished by swatting the rebound of a Vincent Iorio shot that hit the backboards into the net. The tallies give Morelli seven on the year and 25 points overall as one of Hershey’s leading point producers. Bears forward Mike Vecchione hit a milestone with 200 professional points with an assist in this game.

The third period wasn’t kind to the Phantoms, who were very much in this game up to the third but only registered two shots on goal after leading in that category for the first two periods. The Phantoms caught a break as their immediate competition, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, suffered a loss in regulation on Wednesday and didn’t capitalize on a couple of opportunities to cash out some points as they lost the continuation game with Utica on Tuesday. The Phantoms moved up into fourth place despite the loss. Still, it stings having lost their sixth straight game in as many meetings to the Bears. Twenty-eight points on the line can make or break a season.

Hershey flexed its offensive muscle in a critical moment in this game, going two-for-five on the power play and striking with the man advantage for the seventh straight game. It’s music to the ears of head coach Todd Nelson, certainly, and it’s no coincidence that the team has a seven-game point streak at 5-0-2-0. The Bears were without a few key players on Wednesday as Henry Rybinski, Hendrix Lapierre, and goaltender Hunter Shepard sat out the game with an illness. Still, with all the players the Chocolate and White boast, it worked well to slot a few players in, like Shane Gersich, who chipped in an assist on Morelli’s second goal. Morelli’s performance earned him the team’s bear head award in the locker room after the game, as the team showed the passing of the head on Twitter.

The two teams will get familiar with each other over the next few weeks as the teams clash again on Saturday at PPL Center. Three of Hershey’s next five games are against the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, and there will still be five matchups left in the season series that carries right up to the season finale for the Bears at Giant Center. Hershey extended its lead over the second-place Providence Bruins to five points with the win.

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