A win for the Hershey Bears, and they are regular season champions of the new Atlantic Division. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms entered poised to play the role of spoiler and sneak back to the .500 mark in the standings.
A night after the Chocolate and White finished 0-for-6 on the power play, their fortunes changed only 1:38 in. Riley Barber knocked in his 26th of the season from between the face off circles to make it 1-0 Hershey on the man-advantage.
Only 2:56 later, Lehigh Valley answered to knot the game. After a Robert Hagg point shot went wide, Dalton Smith banged home the rebound off the back wall, short side on Justin Peters.
Both teams entered the dressing room after 20 minutes with a tally on each side.
The Phantoms grabbed their first lead of the night at 9:51 of the second period. Steven Swavely beat Peters short side after a video review showed the puck trickle over the goal line.
But the Bears answered with 3:39 to play in the stanza after having Lehigh Valley pinned in their defensive zone for over a minute. Ryan Stanton intercepted a clearing bid and sent a crisp feed to Travis Boyd in the slot. Boyd beat Anthony Stolarz low to the ice for the equalizer. It sends a 2-2 deadlock into the third period.
Into the third period, it was a 20 minute frame the appropriately summarized this entire season: Resilient. At 2:19, Zach Sill tallied the game-winning goal on a combination play finished in the low-slot.
Tremendous saves by Justin Peters down the stretch set up a Sean Collins empty net goal at 19:23 to wrap up a 4-2 win. Sill was named the number one star and celebrated with an energetic victory sprint around the ice, saluting the GIANT Center fans.
Regular season Atlantic Division Champions. One more game tomorrow, and then it’s on to the 2016 Calder cup Playoffs with home ice in the opening round.
Submitted by Matt Trust