Playoff hockey is, by its very nature, low scoring. On Friday night at the PPL Center in Allentown, the Hershey Bears and Lehigh Valley Phantoms took “low scoring” to a whole new level.
Between them, Hershey’s Pheonix Copley (pictured) and Lehigh Valley’s Alex Lyon made 52 saves through a little more than 70 minutes of hockey. Nathan Walker scored with 12:22 left in the first overtime to give the gang from chocolate town a 1-0 series lead in the teams’ first round Calder Cup playoff series.
In the first period, the Bears’ were on their heels, holding Hershey to just five shots in the frame. Lehigh Valley’s Tyrell Goulbourne took an elbowing penalty just 2:33 into the game. Hershey didn’t generate anything with the advantage. As the penalty ended, Cole Bardreau came down on a two on one, but hit the post over Copley’s right shoulder.
The Phantoms power play had back to back power plays midway through the first, but were unable to convert. The best chance came when a T.J. Brennan point shot caused a scramble in front, and Bardreau couldn’t bury the rebound. Hershey’s best chance came with 705 left, when Lyon stopped Jakub Vrana was stopped from the left circle, by Lyon.
Hershey found their bearings in the second, and momentum started to shift. Madison Bowey was stopped from the point 90 seconds. Lehigh Valley’s Corban Knight took a hooking call at 4:03, but Hershey couldn’t convert. The Phantoms’ then had a great chance to take the lead midway through the period. Zach Sill took a holding call at 10:19, and with 15 seconds left in the man-advantage, Taylor Leier was stopped from the left circle.
With two and a half minutes left, Colin McDonald fired a bouncer on Copley from center ice. The puck nearly found the back of the net, but he was able to glove it down.
Less than two minutes into the third, Copley made a big pad save on a backdoor rebound attempt by Chris Conner off of a shot by Corban Knight. Minutes after that, a forceful backhander in the slot from Greg Carey was also stopped.
Late in the third, Stanislav Galiev nearly won the game for Hershey, but Lyon stopped him with the paddle after leaving a wide open net.
In the overtime, Danick Martel was stopped by Copley twice in the opening minute from the bottom circle. Less than two minutes later, a slapshot by Tom Gilbert from the center point was corralled by Lyon.
With 12:28 left, a juicy rebound set up Walker’s heroics. A shot by Tyler Lewington popped to Walker in the bottom of the slot, and he waited out Lyon, who was diving to his right. The puck crossed the line, and it put the onus squarely on Lehigh Valley to tie the series tomorrow night.
Notes: Phantoms Forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a late scratch, allowing Goulbourne to draw into the lineup. It was the 12th time in American Hockey League history that a playoff game went through regulation scoreless. It was the second straight game of that type for Hershey, as game four of last years Calder Cup Finals versus Cleveland played out the same way.
3) LV-Alex Lyon (20 Saves)
2) HER-Pheonix Copley (32 Saves)
1) HER-Nathan Walker (Overtime Game-Winning Goal)