Bears Claw Their Way to Victory Over Lehigh Valley

The Hershey Bears squared off with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Allentown, the Bears would go on to win 4-2. Hershey has won all 3 meetings this year against the Phantoms. LV entered this game with a record of (8-6-1) sitting 19th in league standings, while Hershey sat comfortably in 2nd place with a (13-4-2) record. The Bears will face the Phantoms again in Hershey on Sunday December 18th.

The first period got underway with both teams playing explosive, high energy hockey. Hershey’s Hendrix Lapierre would be the first to put pressure on the Phantom’s goalie with a tricky slapper that ricocheted off of Samuel Ersson’s gear allowing Lapierre to take a baseball style hack at it in mid air, luckily for Ersson and the Phantoms he got a hand on the puck and quickly covered it up. The Bears received their first chance at a Power Play opportunity when LV’s Tyson Foerster was sent to the box for a 2 minute minor holding penalty, Hershey could not capitalize. Hendrix Lapierre would be the first to score for the boys in brown with a stick side dump in on Ersson. Lapierre’s goal assisted by Henrik Rybinski and Bobby Nardella came with roughly 3 minutes left to play in the first, putting the Bears in the lead 1-0. Hershey headed to the dressing room on a PP and would start the second period with just over a minute and a half left due to a slashing penalty on the Phantom’s Louie Belpedio.

The Phantoms were the first to score in the second period on a glove side tap in from Olle Lycksell assisted by Cooper Marody and Cam York, tying the game 1-1. Hershey received another PP opportunity courtesy of Tyson Foerster’s boarding penalty eleven minutes in, Connor McMichael took advantage and fired home a blocker side slap shot from the face off circle assisted by Bobby Nardella and Mike Sgarbossa giving Hershey a 2-1 lead. Lehigh Valley’s Garrett Wilson answered McMichael with a wrap around goal that bounced off of Zach Fucale’s shoulder to once again tie the game 2-2 with just under a minute and a half to play in the period. LV’s Jordy Bellerive tried to give his team the go ahead goal before the intermission, which Fucale deflected giving Bellerive a second chance that he used to aggressively chop away at the puck in front of the net. Hershey’s captain Dylan McIlrath took exception and quickly jumped Bellerive for the rough play on Fucale, the officials immediately broke up the scrum. Both teams retired to their dressing rooms to prepare for the third period with the game tied 2-2.

Hershey owned the third period, starting with a slick deflection goal from Mike Sgarbossa assisted by both Dylan McIlrath and Ethen Frank. Sgarbossa’s goal gave the Bears a 3-2 lead with 16:30 left to play, this was also his fourth goal of the ’22-’23 season. Hershey spent most of the final period on the Phantom’s side of the ice, sending 12 shots at Ersson who miraculously stopped them all. LV pulled Ersson with roughly a minute and a half left of playing time on the clock, which would allow Hershey’s Ethen Frank to find the empty net. Frank’s goal inevitably put the final nail in the Phantoms coffin and allowed the Bears to claim the 4-2 victory, this is the only empty netter the Phantoms have given up all season.

Hershey finished the game with 35 shots on goal compared to the Phantoms 20, on the flip side LV had 6 minutes in penalties while the Bears had only 2 minutes. The Bears will enjoy several days off as they prepare to face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday December 14th at home in Hershey. Puck drop is at 3:00pm E/T, fans can catch all the action on AHL TV or on Fox Sports Radio 1460 in Harrisburg.

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I was born and raised in the small town of Fort Defiance, VA ( about 45 mins west of Charlottesville). Football was always a main priority of mine and from the time I could play, I did. After graduating high school in 2010 and choosing not to chase college ball, I found myself working in local factories and warehouses around my town. I have since moved to Lynchburg, VA where I have settled down, gotten married, had a beautiful little girl and have another one on the way. Ice Hockey has also become a huge part of my life. In 2015 my brother returned from a year long tour in Afghanistan bringing along with him a new found interest in Hockey, which he later introduced to me. The minute I walked in to Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. I was hooked. The speed of the game, the passion of the warriors competing on the ice, and the physicality yet gracefulness of the 250lb hulks gliding around on razor sharp knife shoes. Sports are my way of leaving reality for a while and (even if its in my own head) getting to be part of a team again!

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