Greg Carey – German Rubtsov – Pascal Laberge
Maksim Sushko – Kyle Criscuolo – Andy Andreoff
Matt Stome – Connor Bunnaman – Steve Swavely
Kurtis Gabriel – Gerry Fitzgerald – Isaac Ratcliffe
T.J. Brennan – Reece Willcox
Chris Bigras – Nate Prosser
Tyler Wotherspoon – Andy Welinski
Alex Lyon – J-F Berube
Cal O’Reilly, Mark Friedman, James de Haas
It’s no secret that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Hershey Bears aren’t very fond of each other. These division rivals, separated by just about 60 miles of highway in Pennsylvania, meet each other 12 times per season, and it’s typically an unfriendly occasion. The last time these two teams met, just a week ago, they combined for over 80 penalty minutes.
But this game would not be a repeat of that. Instead, Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek put on a clinic in his crease and the Phantoms couldn’t get much any past him. Add to that the obvious fatigue from being the last game in a three-in-three, two more last minute callups to the Flyers on game day, and a Bears forward group who looked poised to strike at every turn, and it was all the makings of a disappointing outcome for the road team.
Discipline was certainly not an issue for Lehigh Valley, taking only one penalty in the entire 60 minutes of play. Vanecek and Alex Lyon both looked good in net during the first period, the former not giving up rebounds and the latter tracking the puck and covering rebounds well.
Then, less than two minutes before the first intermission, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby let loose on the puck from the blue line and managed to get through traffic and past Lyon. It wasn’t the ideal way to end the period, but the Phantoms had plenty of hockey yet to play.
However the Bears struck again just 20 seconds into the middle frame when Garrett Pilon fanned on a shot and then wound up and connected with the second attempt, which Lyon wasn’t quite ready for. It cost him his net, as head coach Scott Gordon pulled his goaltender and sent J-F Berube in to replace him.
Lehigh Valley finally found some life when they were provided a lengthy five-on-three opportunity in the third period and Andy Andreoff wasted no time in getting his team on the board. But just minutes later, on the Phantoms’ only penalty kill of the night, Bobby Nardella fired a laser shot from the top of the circle to score his first professional goal and seal the fate of the Phantoms.
The Phantoms have struggled mightily on the road as of late, and they’ll need to dig deep during this upcoming week of practice to find some answers before they hit the road once more next weekend for a back-to-back series against the Charlotte Checkers.
Plus / Minus
▲ Andy Andreoff, Greg Carey
▼ Andy Welinski, Tyler Wotherspoon, Matt Strome