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Game Preview: Bears at Phantoms, 7 p.m.

Game Preview: Bears at Phantoms, 7 p.m.

December 19, 2018

Hershey Bears (11-15-0-2) at Lehigh Valley Phantoms (15-9-1-1)
December 19, 2018 | 7:05 PM | Game 29 | PPL Center

Referees: Guillaume Labonte (65), Jake Rekucki (84)
Linesmen: Jud Ritter (34), Tom George (61) 

Broadcast Information (Pre-game 6:35 p.m.)
RADIO: WQIC-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, WOYK-1350 AM, Zack Fisch, the Voice of the Bears on the call. 
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream


The Hershey Bears lost their third consecutive road game on Sunday in a 4-1 loss to the Springfield Thunderbirds. The defeat marked the first regulation loss in Springfield in over a decade, and snapped a 15 games point streak at the MassMutual Center. After falling behind 2-0 on two power play goals, Grant Besse trimmed Hershey's deficit with his first goal in the Chocolate and White. On the rebound of a Juuso Ikonen shot, Besse drove the net and cashed in the rebound at 5:25 of the second period. Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of 26 shots in the losing effort. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms last played on Saturday in a 5-2 loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Philip Samuelsson and Mike Vecchione scored for the orange and black. 

The Bears and Phantoms last met on Dec. 7 at PPL Center, and Lehigh Valley edged Hershey by a 1-0 final. The loss marked Hershey's only shutout of the season to date. Carter Hart stopped all 26 Bears shots for his first professional shutout. Connor Bunnaman scored the game's only goal at 16:51 of the first period. The loss marked Hershey's eighth consecutive loss at the PPL Center. 

Hershey announced Tuesday afternoon defenseman Joey Leach has been signed to a professional tryout. The Wadena, Saskatchewan native spent parts of two seasons with the Bears from 2015-17, appearing in 24 games, posting six assists, 42 penalty minutes, and a +13 rating. In total, Leach has appeared in 46 career AHL games with Oklahoma City, Lake Erie, Hershey, and Hartford, registering seven assists. The 6-foot-4, 211-pound defender is enjoying a strong season this year with Hershey's ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. Leach, who serves as South Carolina's captain, leads all Stingrays defenders and ranks fourth overall on the team with 20 points (two goals, 18 assists). He is tied for third in the ECHL among all defenders in points, and currently is on a five-game point streak where he has collected 11 points (one goal, 10 assists). He had a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) in South Carolina's win versus Greenville on Dec. 15. 

On Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers named Kerry Huffman the new acting head coach for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The move came in the wake of former Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon being named the interim head coach of the Flyers. Huffman previously served as the Phantoms assistant coach since 2016-17. Before coming to the Lehigh Valley, he spent one season as an Assistant Coach with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). Huffman played parts of three seasons with the Hershey Bears in 1986-87, 1988-89 and 1990-91 and appeared in 77 regular season games, tallying 50 points (seven goals, 43 assists). 

The Flyers have recently announced the recall of forward Phil Varone and goaltender Carter Hart from the Phantoms. Varone has been a thorn on the Bears side dating back to last season. During the previous season series in 2017-18, Varone tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 12 games. This season, Varone has scored one goal and earned three assists in two contests against Hershey. Hart has started two games against the Bears, and is a perfect 2-0 with a sparkling 1.01 goals against average and .965 save percentage. 

The Bears only win this season against Lehigh Valley came against Alex Lyon in a 3-1 win at Giant Center on Oct. 28...Hershey has allowed a power play goal in three of the last four games...Hershey is in danger of four straight road losses, which would mark a new season high...Grant Besse has now been credited for Hershey's lone goal on Sunday. The goal was originally credited to Juuso Ikonen. The assists on the goal are from Ikonen and Jayson Megna...Lehigh Valley has the best record in the AHL when trailing after 20 minutes (5-2-1-0)...Hershey is 3-0-0-0 when leading on the road at first intermission, but 0-7-0-1 when trailing after 20 minutes.

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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