Photo: Tori Hartman
A night after their parent club won a close game 4-3, the Hershey Bears (17-17-2-3) fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (22-12-2-3), 2-1 at the PPL Center in a close, hard-fought contest between longtime in-state rivals. BEARS LINES:
A quiet first period in terms of offense brought three power plays for Lehigh Valley as Tyler Lewington, Liam O’Brien, and Mathis Bau were called for hooking, hooking, and tripping respectively. Hershey’s penalty kill improved to 85.6% as they successfully killed off all three first-period penalties and all five Phantoms man-advantages of the game. As mentioned above, the opening frame was quiet in terms of offensive action, with both teams mustering just seven shots apiece on the opposing goaltender. Despite some great scoring chances for both teams (Hershey netminder Vitek Vanecek made a crucial save midway through the period to keep the game scoreless, while Bears forward Nathan Walker failed to score on a penalty shot), neither was able to solve the opposing netminder. At the end of the first, both teams remained deadlocked on the scoreboard and in shots (7-7).
An interference call on Phantoms defenseman Reece Willcox 5:06 into the second period put Hershey up a man for the first time in the contest. The Bears made the most of their first man-advantage, as right wing Riley Barber squeaked a shot past Lehigh Valley netminder Dustin Tokarski to tally the first goal of the game at the 6:47 of the middle frame. The goal was Barber’s 12th goal of the season and seventh on the power play. Defensemen Connor Hobbs and Lucas Johansen were given the helpers on Barber’s marker.
Despite being a man down due to a roughing call on Danick Martel at the 8:12 mark of the second, defenseman T.J. Brennan was able to beat Vanecek on an odd-man rush to tie the game at one with his sixth goal of the season. Tensions began to rise after Bears defenseman Colby Williams delivered a huge hit on Martel, who needed assistance leaving the ice. Martel’s teammate Nicolas Aube-Kubel decided to take matters into his own hands, dropping the gloves with Williams after the hit. Aube-Kubel’s night was finished as he was handed a game misconduct and a two-minute penalty (served by Greg Carey) for instigating as well as a five-minute major penalty for fighting. Williams was handed five minutes for fighting and a match penalty for a check to the head.
Battlestar Galactica. pic.twitter.com/rdS2c0EjS3
— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) January 14, 2018
According to the AHL Rule Book, “a match penalty involves the suspension of a player for the balance of the game and the offender shall be ordered to the dressing room immediately. A player incurring a match penalty shall incur an automatic fine of two hundred dollars ($200) and the case shall be investigated promptly by the league, who shall have full power to impose such further penalty by way of suspension or fine on the penalized player or any other player involved in the altercation.”
While the score was knotted at one apiece, the Bears held the advantage in shots, 15-13 through 40 minutes of play.
While the Bears held the advantage in shots coming into the period, they would fail to put one past Tokarski for the remainder of the game. The Phantoms made the most of a prime scoring opportunity, as forward Matt Read put one past Vanecek at the 8:43 mark of the third to give the Phantoms the one-goal lead. Despite a late power play with 4:54 left in regulation, the Bears failed to solve Tokarski, losing a close 2-1 contest. Despite losing on the scoreboard, the Bears outshot the Phantoms 30-24.
By Michael Fleetwood