Ethen Frank Scores First Professional Hat Trick, Bears Down Phantoms, 6-4 In Regular Season Finale

The Hershey Bears downed the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 6-4 Saturday night at the Giant Center in Hershey. The victory gives the Bears a 44-19-5-4 (97 points) record for the 2022-23 season.

The Bears opened the scoring on a Bobby Nardella blast from the point but the Phantoms answered less than 30 seconds later for a 1-1 tie at the first intermission. Ethen Frank added two tallies in the middle frame, but the Phantoms quickly answered each time for a 3-3 tie at the second intermission.

Bobby Nardella added his second goal of the night early in the third period and Ethen Frank completed the hat trick with five minutes remaining in regulation to make it 5-3. The Phantoms added a 6-on-5 goal with 2:30 left in regulation to close the gap to one, but Shane Gersich added an empty net goal to make it 6-4, the final.


Hunter Shepard (19-8-5-1, 2.12 GAA, .919 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the Bears. Samuel Ersson (24-16-1-10, 2.79 GAA, .902 sv%) got the start in goal for the visiting Phantoms. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Mike Vecchione – Connor McMichael – Ethen Frank
Joe Snively – Garrett Pilon – Sam Anas
Mason Morelli – Hendrix Lapierre – Aliaksei Protas
Beck Malenstyn – Riley Sutter – Shane Gersich

Aaron Ness – Logan Day
Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Bobby Nardella – Vincent Iorio

Hunter Shepard
Zach Fucale

Scratches: Mike Sgarbossa (lower body injury), Lucas Johansen, Bogdan Trineyev, Jake Massie, Ludwig Persson, Henrik Rybinski, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev.

Recalls/Re-assignments: Aliaksei Protas, Joe Snively and Beck Malenstyn were re-assigned from Washington to Hershey on Friday. Alexander Suzdalev was re-assigned from WHL Regina to Hershey on Friday.


The Bears opened the scoring on a blast from the right point by Bobby Nardella (6) at 8:19. Garrett Pilon (18) and Joe Snively (17) had the helpers.

But the Phantoms answered less than 30 seconds later. Bobby Brink (12) notched the tying tally at 8:42. Elliot Desnoyers (21) and Garrett Wilson (25) had the assists.

And that was it for the first frame. Hershey led in shots, 12-8. Both teams were 0 for 1 on the power play.


The Bears regained the lead early in the middle frame on a beautiful redirect by
Ethen Frank (28) at 4:08. Mike Vecchione (31) and Gabriel Carlsson (14) had the assists.

But once again the Phantoms answered right back, this time 36 seconds later. Brendan Furry (1) notched the tying tally at 4:44. Tyson Foerster (28) had the lone assist.

This time the Bears fought right back. Ethen Frank (29) notched his second tally of the night at 7:38. Vincent Iorio (19), and Mike Vecchione (32) recorded the helpers.

But the Phantoms would not go away. This time Louie Belpedio (8) notched the tying tally at 12:29 of the second period. Brendan Furry (1) had the lone assist.

The second period concluded in a 3-3 tie. Lehigh Valley led in shots, 10-8 in the second period. Both sides were 0 for 2 on the power play after two periods.


The Bears regained the lead on a whack-a-mole goal from Bobby Nardella (7) at 5:59. The goal was not officially called a goal during play but a review conducted at the first stoppage and confirmed to cross the goal line. Joe Snively (18) and Vincent Iorio (20) had the helpers.

Ethen Frank completed the hat trick late (15:59) in the third frame. It was his 30th goal of the season.

But the Phantoms refused to go away and cut the Bears lead to 5-4 with a 6-on-5 goal with 2:30 left in regulation Fortunately Shane Gersich answered right back with an empty net goal to make it 6-4, the final.

The Bears now sit idle during the first round of the AHL playoffs and wait to see who they will face in round two.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 9,706
  • Three Stars: 1) Ethen Frank, 2) Bobby Nardella and 3) Vinny Iorio

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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17 Responses to Ethen Frank Scores First Professional Hat Trick, Bears Down Phantoms, 6-4 In Regular Season Finale

  1. novafyre says:

    The Stingrays ended their season with a 5-4 shootout win over the Icemen after being behind the entire game. This gives them 93 points and wins the South division.

    The Stingrays trailed until 4 minutes left. And they were playing the Icemen, who, if they had won, could have won the South with a point tomorrow. Was not an easy game against a non-playoff opponent. I believe that the Rays will play the Everblades in the first round.

    Before the game, the Rays made a number of roster moves – Tyler Wall and Connor Hall were placed on reserve, while Chase Stewart and Josh Wilkens were placed on Injured Reserve. On the positive side Justin Florek came back off reserve while Martin Has and GARIN BJORKLUND came off of Injured Reserve. Yes, Garin is actually with the team. In fact, he was in net!!!! He stopped 24 of 28 shots in regulation as well as 3 of 4 in the shootout.

    Has had an assist and 1 sog, Maass 2 sog, and Kim 4 sog.

    Although the Rays are done for the regular season, the ECHL finishes up tomorrow. Playoff games have not yet been announced.

    • KimRB says:

      So now it’s FOUR prospect goaltenders in the Capitals system: Gibson, Stevenson, Bjorklund and Clark. Yikes!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Heck of a season for the Bears. That’s a good sign for Caps. Look at Wilkes-Barre (Pens) and Lehigh Valley (Flyers)

    • KimRB says:

      Lehigh Valley is actually a darn good AHL hockey team. The difference is head to head. I believe the Bears beat the Phantoms 11 of 14 games this season. The Baby Pens do truly suck though. Indicative of their total lack of talent, throughout the Penguins’ system

  3. Jon Sorensen says:

    Bears have about 10 days off now (+/-) Todd Nelson said in his post game presser he expected to return to action in the second round around April 26-28.

  4. Jon Sorensen says:

  5. dwgie26 says:

    Fun game to watch. Great setup for Morelli on Franks hat trick. Morelli has been out there for a while. And the Gersich empty netter was nasty!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Way to go Frankie!

  7. Anonymous says:

    This Bears postseason is going to be great

  8. Anonymous says:

    Frank’s first goal was a gem. He’s got very good net front skills.

  9. dwgie26 says:

    I noticed that Rybinski was not in the lineup nor listed as a scratch. Did something happen here or just an honest miss? Also, LuJo as a healthy scratch? Man he seems to have plummeted this season.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Thanks Dwgie. Healthy scratch. 🙄 I know there was a lot of buzz around Johansen, first round pick, but I never saw it. Our other Bears analyst, Eric, I believe agrees with the overall take on Johansen. He just never played at an NHL level. A lot was made of his injuries, but it was evident well before the injuries, to me, he just wasn’t smooth with the puck, abilities in each zone were ok, but not anything to write home about. I haven’t missed a Bears game in 9 years, including all 235 of LuJo’s. I just never saw it.I was fairly surprised Caps re-signed him last off-season, but maybe that’s them refusing to give up on a first round pick. Logan Day outplayed him all season in my opinion.

      • dwgie26 says:

        Glad there is nothing more with Rybinski. He is one that I have high hopes for. I see him as a 4RW or possible center. He’s pretty rugged/physical but with some scoring touch. What is your and Erics take on him?

        Yeah… we have bantered a bit previously on LuJo. I fear you are right. I have come around to thinking we need a top 4 LD and let Alexyev be the 7th. He’ll get playing time in that role, but an added dee will help us compete the next two years.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          I agree as well on 4LD. Mac said yesterday that improving top 6 was top priority, but 4LD has to be a close second. Agree on Alexeyev strategy as well. He’s getting there.

          • KimRB says:

            I’m not too upset about LuJo being a bust. When you figure that 19 of 22 Washington 1st round picks from 2000-2015 had NHL careers…thats an amazing success rate. We were bound to swing and miss eventually.

            We do need some left handed depth now though. Unless Lemay, Krebs, Nardella, Gucciardi or Geisser can come in and take a spot, then we ain’t got nothin’ for LD in the system, except for retreads like Carlsson. Look for the Caps to probably take a flyer on a LD or two this draft. We have centers, wings, a ton of goaltending, and some RD. LD might be the shallowest position, right now.

  10. Jon Sorensen says:

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