HERSHEY, PA – Despite a furious rally last night in Allentown, the Hershey Bears were able to escape PPL Center with two points in the standings. That said, it was fair to say that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms were looking for revenge when they traveled to the GIANT Center on Saturday night.
It wasn’t easy, but they got the job done.
Alex Lyon made 34 saves, many of the spectacular variety, and T.J. Brennan, Colin McDonald and Jordan Weal Tallied goals to lead the Phantoms to 3-2 road victory on Saturday night.
Lehigh Valley almost got on the board first just :32 into the game. Blown zone coverage by the Bears, McDonald and Taylor Leier came in two on none. Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek made the initial save, and dove on the puck before Leier could get at the rebound.
A few minutes later, Lyon had his first great save when he would deny Liam O’Brien on an odd-man rush.
The Phantoms broke the score on a Brennan power play goal at 12:01. Andy Miele found Brennan at the half wall on the far side and he rifled a shot between Vanecek’s left shoulder and the crossbar. Greg Carey, who leads the league in power play goals, collected the secondary assist.
Hershey had one more great chance after the goal when Lyon robbed Zach Sill with a pad save on an attempt from the slot. Shots were nine to eight in the period.
Hershey found their legs in the middle frame, and the game started to turn. They controlled the possession time for large chunks, and you could sense that sooner rather than later, the game was going to end up tied.
Late in the period, Hershey hemmed the Phantoms in their own end for a solid three minutes, and it resulted in a goal at 17:20. Chandler Stephenson found Chris Bourque with a nifty backhand feed and Bourque fired the puck past Lyon.
It didn’t take long for the Phantoms to regain the lead in the third, and it came with the man-advantage. With Hubert Labrie off for holding, Tyler Lewington fell on a puck in his own crease after blocking a Taylor Leier shot. As he tried to move the puck from under a pile, McDonald found the puck at the near post and chipped it into the net. Weal earned the secondary assist.
Much like the second period, after the goal, Hershey grabbed all the momentum, and you could sense a tying goal was coming. Just under eight minutes in, Lyon made a great sliding save as Ryan Bourque and Brad Malone came in on a two on one. Lyon again preserved the lead with a sharp glove save on Chandler Stephenson, who had a brilliant chance from the bottom of the near circle.
Danick Martel would take a holding call at 13:06, and Travis Boyd’s sixth of the season would knot the game. A snazzy cross ice feed from Chris Bourque found Boyd at the near faceoff dot, and he wristed it through Lyon. Christian Djoos got the whole thing started when he found Bourque streaking down the right wing.
The Bears almost took the lead with two minutes left, when the Phantoms netminder again Robbed Zach Sill, who Djoos found wide open in the slot with a spectacular glove save.
The overtime goal would not come without controversy. Jordan Weal pulled down Zach Sanford on a breakout in front of the Lehigh Vallry bench. Mark Zengerle tapped the puck to Weal, who swooped in and toe-dragged the puck into the slot, beating Vanecek five-hole to seal the victory.
Notes: Maxim LaMarche and Nicolas Aube-Kubel were scratches, allowing Steven Savely and Reece Willcox to replace them in the lineup. With his two points tonight, Jordan Weal has solo possession of third place in the American Hockey League scoring race. With the victory, the Phantoms leapfrogged the Bears into third place in the Atlantic Division.
Impressions: It’s unfortunate that the game ended the way it did. From the angle I had, it certainly looked like Sanford was hauled down, but this is the problem when there’s only one referee. It’s ironic that Weal got the game winner, as he didn’t really stand out to me at all for the majority of the game. Once again, Alex Lyon is showing Philadelphia management that they made a great choice in giving him a free-agent contract.
3) HER-Travis Boyd (Goal)
2) HER-Chris Bourque (Goal, Assist)
3) LV-Jordan Weal (Overtime Game Winner, Assist)
Up Next: The Phantoms will face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Webster Bank Arena at 3 this afternoon.