The Hershey Bears Hockey Club look to close out the 2015 calendar year on a high note against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. New Year’s Eve matinees are nothing out of the ordinary for the Chocolate and White, as the Bears possess a franchise record of 14-2-2 (W-L-T) all-time on home ice.
Hershey enters with three consecutive New Year’s Eve victories against the Phantoms, dating back to a 2004, 4-3 shootout win.
The Orange and Black jumped out to a first period lead with 8:48 to play in the frame. Aaron Palushaj swatted a rebound from the low-slot into the net past Justin Peters. This came on Lehigh Valley’s second man-advantage of the evening. Palushaj’s seventh tally of the season would stand as the lone mark in the period.
Into the second period, the Bears continued to get pucks on Jason LaBarbera, but struggled getting to the net front to win rebounds chances. With 6:22 remaining in the second period, Lehigh Valley doubled their lead to 2-0. Danick Martel muscled his way to the net front and scored in close on Peters.
Both Phantoms’ goals were generated by crashing the net hard on Justin Peters. It’s the same game plan that was successful for Syracuse two nights prior, and it’s unfortunately now working for Lehigh Valley.
Unfortunately for the Bears, a 2-0 lead would be plenty for LaBarbera. After Christian Djoos got Hershey on the board with 2:35 left on a center-point blast, Martel hit the empty net on a breakaway with 1:01 left.
The Bears are now without a win in both three straight against the Phantoms, and overall at GIANT Center. As Hershey’s home stand finale looms for Saturday, I would imagine the tough decisions begin to build for Head Coach Troy Mann. Do you rest a young team in the thick of a six games in nine nights stretch, or do you practice to improve on what has lacked the last three games?
Only time will tell.
Submitted by intern Matt Trust