Bears Extend Point Streak to Eight Games in 7-3 Win Over Phantoms
January 28, 2023Ethen Frank matched his career-high of four points as the Hershey Bears (28-8-4-1) scored a season-high seven goals in a 7-3 victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (19-16-3-2) on Saturday night at PPL Center.
The win extended the Bears’ overall point streak to a season-high eight games at 6-0-2-0, pushed their road point streak to a season-high seven games at 6-0-1-0, and improved the Chocolate and White to 7-0-0-0 against their I-78 rivals this season.
The victory also jumped Hershey back into first place in the Eastern Conference ahead of idle Toronto, and leapfrogged the Bears past Western Conference-leading Coachella Valley into first place overall in the American Hockey League.
Hershey opened the scoring at 7:55 of the first period on a tic-tac-toe play as Mike Sgarbossa skated up the left side, flipped the puck across to Frank at the right circle, who sent a centering pass into the slot as Mike Vecchione drove the lane and knocked in his 14th of the season past Pat Nagle.
Shane Gersich broke a 20-game goal drought at 11:05 when he tapped in a pass via Vincent Iorio from the right circle behind Nagle for his third tally of the season and his first since Nov. 11 vs. Bridgeport. Bobby Nardella also received credit for a secondary assist, and for Gersich, the goal marked his 100th career AHL and Bears point.
The Bears transitioned from defense to offense to secure their third goal of the contest in the final minute of the opening frame, as Frank dug the puck out of several pairs of legs in the Hershey zone and chipped it off the boards to himself to lead to a Bears breakout that Sgarbossa finished with a snap shot for his 15th of the season at 19:31 to make it 3-0. Logan Day drew a secondary assist.
Garrett Pilon made it 4-0 1:49 into the second period when the forward one-timed a Connor McMichael feed past Nagle from the left circle for his sixth of the season, and his eighth point in his last eight games (4g, 4a).
With Lehigh Valley’s Tyson Foerster serving a five-minute major for boarding Vincent Iorio at 6:55, the Bears surrendered a shorthanded goal when Cal O’Reilly’s shoveled the puck on the net of Zach Fucale from the right wing, and the shot fluttered past the netminder at 10:34 to get the hosts on the board.
Frank bagged his third point of the night just 34 seconds into the third period when he raced into the Phantoms zone on a breakaway and beat Nagle low-glove for his 19th of the season, tops among all AHL rookies. Vecchione and Day picked up assists on the goal.
Ronnie Attard answered for Lehigh Valley at 2:53.
Frank netted his second goal of the evening, and his 20th of the season at 12:05 when he redirected Dylan McIlrath’s shot from the point into the net. Frank became the first Bears rookie to reach the 20-goal mark since Riley Barber (26) and Travis Boyd (21) achieved the feat in the 2015-16 season.
Jackson Cates scored for Lehigh Valley less than two minutes later at 14:03 to pull the Phantoms back to within three goals of Hershey.
Mason Morelli then capped the scoring with his eighth of the season when he deflected McMichael’s point shot for a power-play goal at 16:46.
Shots finished 28-23 in favor of Hershey. Fucale went 20-for-23 for Hershey to pick up his 14th win of the season; Nagle was 21-for-28 for the Phantoms. The Bears were 1-for-2 on the power play; Lehigh Valley went 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
Hershey continues the 2022-23 season, presented by Penn State Health, when the Chocolate and White return home to GIANT Center for their annual GIANT Teddy Bear Toss when they host the Bridgeport Islanders on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. All fans are encouraged to bring new, stuffed teddy bears and items to the game to toss onto the ice as the Bears score their first goal. All items collected will be donated to local charities. Purchase tickets for the game by CLICKING HERE.
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