ALLENTOWN, PA – Coming into Friday’s game in Allentown, Hershey Bears Head Coach Troy Mann said that the key to the game would be limiting Lehigh Valley’s lethal power play, which Mann said earlier in the season was the best that he had seen this year.
With that in mind, he probably didn’t envision the Phantoms getting 12 chances with the man-advantage. They did, and things did not end well for the chocolate and white.
Cole Bardreau scored a goal and added two assists, Will O’Neill (pictured) tallied two assists, and Anthony Stolarz made a paltry 15 saves to lead the Phantoms to a 6-2 walkover division victory at PPL Center.
You wouldn’t have expected the offensive output given the fact that, for the opening ten minutes of the first period, both teams combined for an incredible two shots on goal. At the midpoint of the period, Hershey’s penalty parade started and began a long night for the Bears.
Christian Djoos Took a high-sticking call at 10:59, and the Phantoms got on the board. Mark Zengerle took a shot from the top of the right circle, and while Hershey’s Vitek Vanecek stopped that shot, he couldn’t stop Colin McDonald just to his right, who buried the rebound for his fourteenth of the season.
Hershey’s penalty-kill failed them again less than seven minutes later. Darren Dietz was in the box for a high stick, and the Phantoms used a center point shot by O’Neill and turned that into a deflection by Chris Conner to double their lead. Not to be forgotten on the play was a nifty no-look pass by Andy Miele to set the whole thing up.
The Phantoms used an early five on three in the second to extend the lead further. Greg Carey tapped the puck from behind the net to Conner, who whipped the puck cross ice to Jordan Weal, and he beat Vanacek stick side. Six minutes later, Dietz beat Stolarz five-hole from the exact same spot Zengerle was earlier to cut the lead to two.
Hershey had a couple of shorthanded chances after this, with Stolarz stopping Brad Malone on a breakaway, and then Zach Sill hit the post on a breakaway of his own. With just over two minutes left in the middle frame, Corban Knight put the game away for good. He deflected a right-point shot by O’Neill past the Hershey netminder. The goal was immediately waved off for goaltender interference.
The only problem with that was that Knight never touched Vanecek. After a brief conference with all four officials at center ice, the goal was rightfully made to count, and the Phantoms lead was restored to three.
Cole Bardreau added his own power play goal early in the third, potting the rebound of a Mark Alt point shot at 7:26. The primary assist marked Alt’s first points since his return last week from an injury suffered in training camp.
A bizarre sequence led to Hershey’s second goal. Aaron Ness threw Taylor Leier into the post on a rush, and it led to an odd-man rush the other way, and Ness fired home the rebound of a Chris Bourque shot at 12:26. Scott Laughton scored on a breakaway to close out the scoring at 18:26.
Notes: Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Reece Willcox were healthy scratches.
3) LV-Corban Knight (Goal, Assist)
2) LV-Chris Conner (Goal, Assist)
1) LV-Cole Bardreau (Goal, Two Assists)
Up Next: The two teams won’t have long to reflect on this one, as they face off Saturday Night at GIANT Center at 7:05.