Entering Saturday evening’s contest with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Bears got some good news – Chandler Stephenson was returned on load by the Capitals. Hershey needed a win at Giant Center to close out the series after taking the first two games at PPL Center in Allentown. But Lehigh Valley earned a 4-1 victory as neither team has been able to win on their home ice.
It was all Lehigh Valley early as the Phantoms not only got the game’s first goal, but they also out-shot the Bears by a 12-3 margin in the first period.
Danick Martel scored his first playoff goal at the 16:51 mark in the first period. Then in the second, the Phantoms scored again.
Mark Zengerle made it a 2-0 Phantoms lead with his first post-season goal with just 4:25 gone in the second period. It would stay a two-goal lead for the Phantoms for just over ten minutes until Stephenson scored, eliciting a roar of approval from the Giant Center crowd.
Stephenson, with the puck in the neutral zone, skated in alone and tallied his first goal of the post-season, putting the Bears within a goal of tying the game with 4:59 to play in the second period. Riley Barber and Nathan Walker assisted.
The Bears held the momentum through the remainder of the second and for the beginning of the third until Scott Laughton scored his first of the playoffs, taking much of the air out of Giant Center.
Pheonix Copley stopped 34 of 37 shots. Lehigh Valley’s Laughton added an empty net goal late in the game, his second of the evening. Game highlights can be found here.
Hershey’s PP continued to struggle against Lehigh Valley, going 0 for 3 on the evening. The PK went 3 for 3.
Troy Mann opted to scratch Liam O’Brien and Jakub Vrana along with Madison Bowey. Bowey is wearing a full shield and seemed to have some difficulty finding the puck through it while Vrana was being sent a message from Mann who was not pleased with his performance in Game 3.
The fifth and decisive game of the series will be tomorrow night at PPL Center in Allentown. The puck is scheduled to drop at 5:05. The winner of that game will advance into the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs against either Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or Providence.
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) April 29, 2017