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Game Preview: Bears at Phantoms, 7:05 p.m.

March 15, 2023

The Hershey Bears continue the 2022-23 season, presented by Penn State Health, as they look to snap a three-game losing streak when they visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms tonight at PPL Center. 

Hershey Bears (34-16-5-2) vs Lehigh Valley Phantoms (31-22-3-3)
March 15, 2023 | 7:05 p.m. | Game 58 | GIANT Center
Referees: Beau Halkidis (#48), Peter Schlittenhardt (#12)
Linespersons: J.P. Waleski (#14), John Rey (#16)

Broadcast Information 
Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch, on the call
RADIO: WFVY-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream
Radio pre-game coverage starts at 6:35 p.m.

The Bears were in action last Sunday at Providence, falling 5-3 to the Bruins. Mike Vecchione scored a power-play goal at 8:52 of the first period to get Hershey on the board after trailing 3-0, but Vinni Lettieri put up three goals and an assist in an 8:44 stretch in the opening frame to put Providence ahead 4-1. Aaron Ness scored at 18:03 to pull Hershey back to within a pair of goals, and Henrik Rybinski scored at 1:59 of the third period to make it a one-goal contest. Chris Wagner sealed the game for Providence with an empty-net goal at 19:10. The Phantoms scored a 5-3 victory over Utica on home ice last Sunday, thanks to a goal and an assist from Cooper Marody and Garrett Wilson.

Tonight is the 11th of 14 meetings between the Bears and Phantoms. Hershey enters tonight's game having dropped three straight games while the Phantoms are the winners of five in a row. After dropping a pair of matches against Lehigh Valley in early February, the Bears responded with a 4-3 shootout win at home on Feb. 25th in the last head-to-head meeting to improve to 8-2-0-0 in the season series with the Phantoms. Hershey’s two road games this week in Allentown will be the final visit of the 2022-23 regular season to PPL Center. The Bears are paced by Mike Sgarbossa’s 13 points (6g, 7a) in 10 contests, while Olle Lycksell’s six points (2g, 4a) lead the Phantoms against Hershey.

Hershey forward Mason Morelli's next point will be a milestone marker in two different ways. The next time the third-year Bear appears on the scoresheet, it will be his 100th profesional point. The Minot, North Dakota native has compiled 83 points in his AHL career while also adding 16 points in his brief 16-game tenure in the ECHL. In addition to his next point helping him hit the century mark, it will also mark his 34th point of the season, a new career-high in his professional career. Morelli has tallied 11 goals and 22 assists in 57 games this season and he's collected six points (4g, 2a) in 10 games versus the Phantoms. 

There is officially one month left in the AHL's regular season, and Hershey enters tonight's game three points behind Providence for the top spot in the Atlantic Division with one game in-hand. Every point will be critical in the final 15 games of the season as third-place Charlotte is just three points back of the Bears, although the Checkers have played 59 games to Hershey's 57. After a sensational start to the season, Hershey has not seen wins come easy of late. Starting with the club's shutout loss to Bridgeport on Jan. 29, the Bears have gone just 6-8-1-1 over the last 16 games (.438). 

Aaron Ness registered his 300th professional point in the loss to Providence on Sunday…Mike Vecchione needs four goals to reach 100 in his pro career…Mike Sgarbossa’s next assist will be the 250th of his pro career…Hershey is second in the league and first in the Eastern Conference with 2.60 goals-against per game…Lehigh Valley forward Cooper Marody was named the AHL's Player of the Week after posting nine points (6g, 3a) over three games last week. 

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