Early Lead Doesn't Last in 7-6 Loss to Phantoms
March 2, 2018The Hershey Bears jumped out to a 5-1 lead after 20 minutes, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms stormed back, earning a 7-6 win over Hershey at the PPL Center on Friday. The Bears finished the 2017-18 season 0-6-0-0 in Allentown.
Hershey opened the scoring at 5:08, courtesy of a new-look third line. In his first game back from representing Team USA in the Olympics, Chris Bourque was placed on a line with Dustin Gazley and Jeremy Langlois. On the opening goal, Bourque sent the puck behind the net from the left wing to Langlois. A backhand pass setup Gazley on the doorstep to cash in on Lehigh Valley goaltender John Muse.
Chris Conner drew Lehigh Valley even at 9:12 on the Phantoms' first power play attempt of the night. Conner potted his 200th career professional goal following a lively bounce off the end boards after the initial shot.
The Bears closed the opening period by scoring four straight goals, and grabbing a 5-1 lead. Lucas Johansen made it 2-1 Hershey in his first goal since December on a drive from the right point at 12:22. Only 23 seconds later, Langlois added his fifth goal of the season, followed by a Nathan Walker strike at 14:01 after a crisp passing play. The goal ended Muse's night as he was replaced by Dustin Tokarski.
At 15:21, Tyler Graovac greeted Tokarski into the game after finishing a passing play from Johansen and Walker to make it 5-1 . Hershey led in shots after 20 minutes, 12-8.
In the second period, the Phantoms scored back-to-back goals. Nic Aube-Kubel scored his first of two goals, striking at 4:58 of the second period, and Phil Myers cut the lead to 5-3 with his fourth goal of the season at 6:27.
Hershey responded to up its lead to 6-3 at 8:09 of the middle stanza. Riley Barber scored his team-leading 20th goal of the year. The forward accepted a Joe Whitney pass and snapped a shot off the crossbar and past Tokarski's glove to give Hershey a three-goal cushion.
Lehigh Valley once again had an answer, scoring twice before the period ended. On a shot that bounced off the end boards, Cole Bardreau scored his six goal of the season for the Phantoms at 9:52. Shortly following, Danick Martel was credited with his 20th goal of the season, finishing a mad scramble in front of the Hershey net at 11:59. The goal ended Hershey netminder Vitek Vanecek's night as he was removed in place of Pheonix Copley after allowing five goals on 19 shots.
In the third period, the Phantoms continued the string of unanswered goals, scoring twice more. Mike Vecchione tied the game, 6-6, at 4:12 of the third period. Vecchione's initial shot was stopped by Copley, but the goaltender lost the puck in his feet and accidentally kicked the puck into his own net.
Aube-Kubel scored the winning goal at 13:01, wedging a rebound past Copley's blocker for his second goal of the game.
Hershey went 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Phantoms were 2-for-7. Lehigh Valley outshot Hershey, 32-30. The Bears have now dropped two straight games, and currently sit at 23-27-4-4.
The Bears return to action tomorrow night on home ice versus Utica. It's Penn State Health T-Shirt Night for all fans. The puck drops at 7 p.m. and ticket information is available at HersheyBears.com.
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