Bears Beat Phantoms 1-0; Vitek Vanecek Pitches Shutout, Mike Sgarbossa’s Power Play Goal The Difference

Photo: Caroline O’Connor/Hershey Bears/Great Save Productions

The Hershey Bears beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 1-0 Saturday night at the Giant Center in Hershey. After a scoreless first frame, the Bears would strike in the second period with a power play goal from Mike Sgarbossa. Vitek Vanecek was very strong in goal for the second-straight night, and would earn the shutout.

The win improves the Bears record to 11-9-2-3 (27 points) on the season. The Bears are back in action on Sunday when they host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center. Puck drop is set for 5:00 PM.

Vitek Vanecek (5-4-1-0, 2.67 GAA, .893 sv%) started between the pipes for the Bears. This was the first time Vanecek started in back-to-back games this season. He also started last night at Lehigh Valley. J.F. Berube (4-3-3-0, 2.75 GAA, .903 sv%) started in goal for the Phantoms. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Scratches: Lucas Johansen (lower body injury, day-to-day), Steve Whitney (upper body injury) and Colby Williams (lower body injury, week-to-week) were the injury scratches. Connor Hobbs, Riley Sutter, Kody Clark, Eddie Whittchow and Chris McCarthy were the healthy scratches.

Bobby Nardella returned to lineup after being out since November 3rd with an upper body injury. (12 games). Tobias Geisser was re-assigned to EV Zug in the Swiss league on Thursday. (More here).

The Bears opened with a flurry of chances in the first two minutes of play, but the Phantoms flipped the ice four minutes into the contest registering the next nine shots on goal at the 10 minute mark. Vanecek was solid in the early going, controlling his rebounds, with nine saves in the first 10 minutes of play.

Bobby Nardella drew a penalty chasing down a puck 1-on-3 to give the Bears the game’s first power play. The Bears entered the contest 8 for 88 on the power play at 9.1%, 30th in the league. They were unable to convert.

The Phantoms would be awarded their first power play at 15:42 when Shane Gersich was called for tripping, but the Bears were able to kill the penalty, making it 13 consecutive kills over the last two-plus games.

The first period would end with the game scoreless. The Phantoms outshot the Bears 13-7 in the first frame. Both teams were 0 for 1 on the power play.

The second period began with plenty of end-to-end non-stop play. Hershey led in shots on goal 4-3 at the 10-minute mark. The Bears best opportunity came on a centering pass by Joe Snively from the corner to Mike Sgarbossa cutting to the net.

Kale Kessy and Greg Carey dropped the gloves at 11:49, but the dust-up was quickly smothered by the officials. The fight ensued following a hit that Kessy applied to a Phantoms player, who would ultimately leave the game with an apparent wrist or arm injury.

Tempers continued to flare-up when the Phantoms Isaac Ratcliffe hit Tyler Lewington with a big hit that included an elbow to the head area. As a result of the fracas, the Bears were awarded their second power play of the game,  and this time the Bears would cash-in. Mike Sgarbossa (9) would pot the tally at 14:16 of the middle frame. Alex Alexeyev (10) and Christian Djoos (12) had the assists.

The second period would conclude with the Bears leading 1-0. Hershey led in shots on goal 8-7 for the middle frame, with Lehigh Valley leading 20-15 after two periods. Lehigh Valley was 0 for 2 and Hershey 1 for 3 on the power play after two periods.

Kale Kessy and Kurtis Gabriel would drop the gloves at 2:38 of the final frame.

Alex Alexeyev would go to the room after taking a cross-check from T.J. Brennan, but would return later in the period.

The Bears would squash yet another Phantoms power play late in the final frame to keep the 1-0 lead.

Beck Malenstyn would take a hit with about a minute to go from Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and would leave the game favoring his shoulder. He would not return. No update was available by the end of the game.

The Bears would hang on for the 1-0 win.


  • The AHL box score
  • Attendance: 7,531
  • Stars of the game 1) Vitek Vanecek, 2) Mike Sgarbossa and 3) Alex Alexeyev.
  • The win was the Bears third straight. Their first three-game winning streak of the season.
  • Lehigh Valley led in shots 32-30 for the game.
  • Vitek Vanecek stopped 32 shots for the shutout.
  • Alex Alexeyev led the Bears in shots with 4.
  • Lehigh Valley was 0 for 4 and Hershey 1 for 4 on the power play.
  • Hershey has scored first in the last five consecutive games.
  • Both teams combined for 88 penalty minutes (49 Hershey, 39 Lehigh Valley) to mark the Bears most penalized game this season.
  • Kale Kessy totaled 31 penalty minutes, setting a new AHL career-high. His previous was 30 penalty minutes set on Nov. 21, 2014.


About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to Bears Beat Phantoms 1-0; Vitek Vanecek Pitches Shutout, Mike Sgarbossa’s Power Play Goal The Difference

  1. Pingback: Beck Malenstyn Suspended 3 Games For Elbowing Incident In Friday Nights Game Against Lehigh Valley | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: Joe Snively Keeps Scoring, Vitek Vanecek Heating Up: Week 12 Prospect Report | NoVa Caps

  3. Pingback: Capitals Prospect Bobby Nardella Is Reviving The Power Play In Hershey | NoVa Caps

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