Bears Down Phantoms, 4-3 In Overtime, Clinch Calder Cup Playoff Berth

Photo: Lehigh Valley Phantoms

The Hershey Bears beat the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 4-3 (OT), Friday night at the PPL Center in Allentown. The victory improves the Bears record to 34-30-6-4 (78 points) on the season and clinches a Calder Cup playoff berth for the Bears.

Following a fight just 18 seconds into the game, the Phantoms would open the scoring 18 seconds later to take an the early 1-0 lead. Bobby Nardella would tie the game midway through the opening frame, ending the Bears goalless streak at 141:32 and even-strength goalless streak at 248:54.

The Bears took their first lead of the game midway through the middle frame on Aliaksei Protas’ 8th goal of the season, but the Phantoms would answer just 1:15 later to tie the game, 2-2.

The Bears would once again regain the lead early in the final frame on a Lucas Johansen tally, but once again the Phantoms would quickly answer to tie the game 3-3 and send the game to overtime.

Brett Leason would win it for the Bears in overtime. The victory clinched a Calder Cup playoff spot for the Bears, the 69th time in franchise history.


The Bears started Pheonix Copley (17-11-5-2, 2.32 GAA, .917 sv %) in net while the Phantoms countered with Felix Sandstrom (15-18-4-1, 2.93 GAA, .901 sv%). The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Injuries: Shane Gersich (lower body injury), Brian Pinho (shoulder surgery), Matt Moulson (back surgery), Macoy Erkamps, (illness) and Riley Sutter (upper-body injury).

Scratches: Jake Massie,  Kale Kessy, Christopher Brown, Eddie Whittchow, Hunter Shepard and Clay Stevenson.

Amateur Tryout Agreements: The Bears signed Benton Maass, Dru Krebs and Garin Bjorklund to amateur tryout agreements.


Just 18 seconds into the contest the Bears’ Dylan McIlrath and Phantoms’ Garrett Wilson  droped the gloves.

The Phantoms opened the scoring just 18 seconds later. Max Willman (11) notched the game’s first tally, assisted by Cooper Zech (8).

The Bears would finally score an even strength goal. Bobby Nardella scored his 6th of the season at 10:21 of the first period. Garrett Pilon (24) had the lone assist.

The goal ended the goalless streak at 141:32 and the even-strength goalless streak at 248:54.

The period concluded with the game tied 1-1. Shots were also tied 6-6. Hershey was 0 for 1 on the power play while the Phantoms did not have a man advantage in the first frame.


The Bears took their first lead of the game on a tally from Aliaksei Protas (8) at 10:23 of the second period. Brett Leason (7) and Cody Franson (26) had the helpers.

The Bears lead lasted all of 1:15. The Phantoms’ Tanner Laczynski (7) would tie the game with 8:22 remaining in the period.

The period would end with the game tied 2-2.


The Bears regained the lead early in the final frame on Lucas Johansen’s 8th goal of the season. Aliaksei Protas (16) had the lone assist.

But once again the Phantoms would answer. Garrett Wilson (17) would tie the game at 7:00.  Adam Clendening (36) and Cooper Zech (9) had the assists.

Regulation would end, tied 3-3.


Breet Leason would win it for the Bears in overtime. Bobby Nardella was credited with the lone assist on the goal.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 8,055
  • Hershey led in shots 31-16.
  • Brett Leason and Aliaksei Protas led all Bears in shots with 5 each.
  • Hershey was 0 for 2 and the Phantoms 0 for 1 on the power play.
  • Stars of the game: 1) Brett Leason (1g,1a), 2) Aliaksei Protas (1g, 1a) and 3) Cooper Zach.

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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8 Responses to Bears Down Phantoms, 4-3 In Overtime, Clinch Calder Cup Playoff Berth

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your coverage of Bears. Only site to cover both Capitals and Bears full time. Truly comprehensive coverage.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Leason and Protas were possessed tonight. 2 points each.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Limping into the postseason much better than limping to the golf course.

  4. novafyre says:

    More people in attendance than the Coyotes can have next year in their college arena even if they sell out.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      This is an accurate stat. ☝️

      • novafyre says:

        Giant Center capacity is 10,500. Highest estimate I could find for new Coyotes arena is 5,100 (I think Joe B said under 5,000). What a joke for an NHL team. The ECHL Solar Bears can seat 17,353 for hockey at the Amway Center.

        Cheapest Coyotes season ticket price next year is $89 a game. Even bigger joke will be if they can’t sell out their new mini-arena because of their prices.

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