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BY DON SCOTT

Lehigh Valley and Hershey both entered Tuesday’s game looking to snap losing streaks and get back on track. The Phantoms had dropped five straight, going 0-4-1-0 in that stretch, while the Bears came up short in their previous four straight, with an 0-3-1-0 record.

It was the Bears who returned to the win column, ending their streak with a 4-0 win over the Phantoms in front of 10,486 fans at Ginat Center. Zach Fucale recorded his second consecutive shutout with 26 saves, and Beck Malenstyn had a career-best night with two goals and an assist. 

The Bears dominated the opening scoreless period that saw Lehigh Valley getting its initial shot on goal midway through the period.

Hershey finally broke through in the middle stanza when Malenstyn scored his sixth goal of the season by redirecting a point shot from Dylan McIlrath past Lehigh Valley net minder Felix Sandstrom’s glove at 10:21 for a 1-0 lead. Riley Sutter assisted on the goal.

The Bears added to their lead with a pair of goals early in the third period.

Brett Leason scored his second goal of the season, and his first since rejoining the club from Washington, at 1:38, with Malenstyn assisting that came right after a power play expired. 

“We didn’t score in the first period but stuck to our guns and stayed strong defensively and then we got the huge goal on a great play by Dylan McIlrath to get us the 1-0 lead. Then the other challenge was in the third period when we knew we had to hold the momentum coming out of their power play, and we got the goal from Leason just as the penalty expired,” Hershey coach Scott Allen said.

Pilon added to the lead at 3:47, tapping a loose puck past Sandstrom, after a Shane Gersich shot sat in the crease, for his 15th of the season. 

The Phantoms pulled Sandstrom for an extra skater with four-and-a-half minutes to play while on a power play, and Malenstyn sealed the victory with an empty-net goal at 17:48. 

Shots favored Hershey 30-26. The Bearswere 0-for-3 on the power play while the Phantoms were 0-for-4. 

The Bears return to action on Friday evening at Bridgeport. 

Bears Notes:

This was the first of three straight home games for Hershey versus Lehigh Valley. The Bears will also host the Phantoms on Sunday, March 13, as well as Wednesday, March 23. The Phantoms were 2-6-1-1 in their previous 10 games and the Bears were 2-7-1-0.

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