ALLENTOWN, PA – After nine days off, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms could be forgiven if they were rusty when they returned Monday night versus the Hershey Bears.
For 20 minutes, things looked good. After that, it was all Hershey.
Zach Sill tallied a goal and an assist and Chandler Stephenson had two assists as the Hershey Bears improved to 4-2 against the Phantoms in front of a standing-room-only crowd at PPL Center Monday night.
The beginning of the game looked like a game in which both teams had significant time off. Both teams were sloppy, and it led to scoring chances on both sides. The best scoring chance for the Phantoms that a Travis Boyd turnover that Cole Bardreau turned into a breakaway, but Vitek Vanecek made a pad stop.
After getting stopped point blank on a power play, Colin McDonald (pictured, right) got another chance, and he made it count. After Danick Martel threw the puck to Travis Sanheim at the point, the puck found McDonald inside the blueline and he floated a wrister that found the back of the net. The goal was McDonald’s 13th of the season.
After failing to capitalize on a carryover power play at the beginning of the second, Hershey tied the game on Chris Bourque’s eighth of the season at 4:22. Chandler Stephenson threw a nifty drop pass to the front of the net that Bourque put home.
Less than a minute later, Boyd, who has five of his 10 total goals this season against the Phantoms, gave the Bears a lead they would not relinquish on the power play. After faking a slapshot at the center point, Christian Djoos whipped a perfect pass to Boyd at the far circle, and a one-timer found the top-shelf.
Late in the period, Paul Carey deflected an Aaron Ness shot through Phantoms goalie Alex Lyon for his ninth of the year.
Lehigh Valley would cut the Bears lead to one 23 seconds later when a great pinch all the way to the goal line by Defenseman Reece Willcox enabled him to find Andy Miele driving the slot. Miele beat Vanecek for his third of the season at 17:32.
Hershey continued to pour it on in the final period, Chris Bourque almost got his second of the season seconds into the period. As he exited the penalty box, a stretch pass found him and he had a partial breakaway.
He ripped a slapshot that hit Lyon square in the logo. Roughly four minutes later, Christian Thomas’ 13th goal of the season pushed the Hershey lead back to two. Zach Sill found Ryan Bourque at the top of the slot, and a wrister hit Thomas in the hand and past Lyon.
With just under five minutes left, a T.J. Brennan turnover led to a Carey breakaway, but Lyon stopped that one.
Sill added a late goal, finishing off a Christian Thomas feed from the slot. After the final horn, a shoving match broke out between the two teams. Will O’Neill punched Hershey’s Darren Dietz, drawing blood. The officials met at center ice and O’Neill was awarded a match penalty for fighting, meaning he gets an automatic one-game suspension and possibly further discipline, pending AHL review.
Notes: Corban Knight was a healthy scratch, after travel problems getting back to Allentown from Calgary caused him to miss the morning skate. The other healthy scratch was Maxim LaMarche.
Up Next: Lehigh Valley travels to Rochester to take on the Americans Wednesday at 7:05.