The Hershey Bears displayed a good offensive jump out of the starting gate, and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms’ push grew as the period progressed. Both goaltenders in Justin Peters and Jason LaBarbera answered the bell, leading to a scoreless tilt after 20 minutes.
Both teams fanned on one power play chance in the frame. The Bears possess a 10-8 shot advantage, but Lehigh’s eighth shot on goal in the final minute required a ten bell save by Peters.
Into the second period, the whistles were put away, and a defensive grid lock opened into a track meet, back and forth pace which produced five goals. The Chocolate and White for the third consecutive game at the PPL Center grabbed a two goal advantage.
The scoring started with AHL leading scorer Chris Bourque winning a puck battle in the low slot and blasting a quick shot past LaBarbera at 1:55. At the 7:27 mark, Paul Carey fed Carter Camper on a crisp back-door chance. Following the initial save, Tyler Lewington finished a bouncing puck into a wide open cage.
But as we have witnessed all season long, Lehigh Valley answered in a blink of an eye. With 10:34 left in the period, Nick Cousins was left unmarked in the low-slot and beat Justin Peters on a point blank chance to make it a 2-1 game. 52 seconds later, Chris Conner tallied his sixth of the season after finding a loose puck at the door step.
The line of Liam O’Brien, Nathan Walker and Garrett Mitchell continued to put forth a relentless effort on the ice, and were rewarded less than two minutes later. O’Brien finished a setup by Connor Carrick to give Hershey their second lead of the night prior to second intermission.
The Hershey Bears entered the third period poised to hang on and win in Allentown for the first time since November 6th. Lehigh Valley fired 27… yes 27 shots on goal in the third period alone. It is the first time the Bears have allowed 25 or more shots in a period in over 12 years. For the Chocolate and White, Dustin Gazley tallied the first shot and only shot of the period at 14:23 and hit pay-dirt.
Chris Brown set up Gazley from the side of the net for his eighth goal season to restore a two-goal lead. But with a relentless offensive push by the Phantoms, the went down to the fire. With exactly 3:00 remaining, Colin McDonald cut the Hershey lead back to one on a chance from between the face off circles.
The Phantoms put LaBarbera on the bench in the final minute for the extra attacker and eventually received a 6-on-4 advantage with 19 seconds left following a minor penalty by Travis Boyd.
Hershey hung out and survived the Phantoms’ offensive push late and won the hockey game 4-3.
See you tomorrow!
Submitted by intern Matt Trust