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ALLENTOWN, Pa. – PPL Center has been a house of horrors for the Hershey Bears this season. An explosive first period that saw Hershey score four goals in 2:45 seemingly put Hershey on pace to exorcise their Allentown demons. That of course until the game turned into an old-fashioned shootout with all sorts of crazy occurrences and runs.  The resilient Phantoms eventually found their way on top of a wild 13 goal affair with the 7-6 victory.

First, it was Hershey giving Lehigh a taste of its own medicine by creating a transition goal. Chris Conner attempted to send a pass up ice but turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Dustin Gazley. Gazley quickly dropped back to Chris Bourque who threw a puck towards the slot. It bounced to the boards behind the net and right to Jeremy Langlois. Langlois found Gazley in front with a no-look pass and he buried it top shelf for the 1-0 Hershey lead.

Chris Conner would make up for his miscue with his team on the power play. A shot from the point hit off the backboards giving Conner a wide open net to tie the game at 1-1.

After a Travis Sanheim cross check that sent Colby Williams dangerously into the boards, the two sides skated four on four. Lucas Johansen restored Hershey’s lead. They didn’t look back for the remainder of the period.

Just 24 seconds later Jeremy Langlois got in on the action off a two-on-one rush with Dustin Gazley. Then 1:16 later Nathan Walker continued the stunning Hershey rally potting a fortuitous bounce off the end board for his seventh goal of the season. Surrendering four goals on 11 shots, John Muse’s night was done as he was pulled in favor of Dustin Tokarski.

Tokarski fared no better though thanks to a tough turnover by his defender Philippe Myers. Myers waiting behind the goal attempted to go up the boards but it went right to Nathan Walker. Walker found Johansen cross-crease and centered to Tyler Graovac for the Bears fifth goal of the game. The goal came 1:05 after the Walker goal.
In the second Hershey had ample opportunity to add to their 5-1 lead thanks to 1:08 of five-on-three power play time. They moved the puck around well but Tokarski came up big. The PK provided the Phantoms the boost they needed to begin climbing back. Nic Aube-Kubel taking advantage of bears caught in neutral had plenty of time to deke around Vanecek to get the Phantoms back on the board.

Then Myers deked out Jeremy Langlois at the point and fired a shot through traffic that hit pay dirt to cut the lead to within two.

The scoring craziness persisted with Hershey answering back. A Chris Conner pass on an odd-man rush went awry and Joe Whitney sprung Riley Barber in behind the defense. Barber went bar down to restore Hershey’s three-goal lead.

Another lively bounce off the end board right to Cole Bardreau making it 6-4.

On multiple delayed calls against Hershey, Lehigh scored again as the puck trickled over the line ending Vitek Vanecek’s night, enter Pheonix CopleyDanick Martel was credited with the goal, his fifth goal of the year against Hershey.

After the second period the Phantoms had, it seemed inevitable this game was headed for a 6-6 tie. With the Bears in penalty trouble, Lehigh found the tying goal. Mike Vecchione in front the goal threw it in Copley. The puck slid underneath Copley who couldn’t find it. In an attempt to roll over and locate it, the Hershey netminder accidentally kicked the puck in his own goal with five seconds left on the penalty kill.

Dustin Tokarski had the Bears fired up when his stick broked and laid behind the goal line to his left.  He complained and held his hands in the air to no response by the officials.  Angrily, Tokarski lifted the net off its moorings and slid the goal back slightly. It wasn’t enough to stop play.  As the Bears approached the Phantoms zone he pushed the net off further finally bringing a stoppage in play as Hershey shot it into the goal. Despite arguments and protests by the Bears, Tokarski was not called for his actions.

Despite a small push by the Bears, it was the Phantoms striking once again. An innocent looking backhand by James de Haas left a juicy rebound for Aube-Kubel to score making it a 7-6 lead for the hometown team.

The game came down to Hershey having to pull Copley for the extra attacker. Despite a frantic board battle and decent zone time with the man advantage, Hershey couldn’t find the equalizer and Lehigh took the wild game 7-6.


Friday night’s game marked the sixth and final trip for Hershey to Allentown.  They failed to win a single game on the road against their in-state rival.

Nathan Walker’s first-period goal extends his point streak to six games.  During the streak, Walker has amassed four goals and five games.  It is the longest point streak by a Bears player in 2017-18.  Riley Barber has nine points in his last seven games for Hershey and easily could’ve had a couple more goals while shorthanded.

Something that may have been shocking in January, six Bears registered a multi-point game (Johansen, Gazley, Walker, Langlois, Barber, and Graovac). Four Phantoms also picked up multi-point games (Myers, Aube-Kubel, Martel, and T.J. Brennan)

The two teams will rematch back in Hershey on Sunday.  But first, Hershey returns home to host Utica for the first time in what will be a “whiteout” game with a t-shirt giveaway at Giant Center. Lehigh Valley remains at home Saturday to host Binghamton.

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