With Friday’s game at Binghamton rescheduled due to COVID protocol issues with the Devils, it had been a full week since Hershey last played before Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Giant Center.
The game could not have started any better for the Bears, when Damien Riat fired the team’s initial shot past Phantoms goalie Zane McIntyre, just 1:36 into the contest. Unfortunately, that would be the extent of Hershey’s offense the rest of the way.
The Phantoms countered less than a minute later at 2:18, on Tyson Foerster’s first pro goal. The Phantoms had a 2-on-1 rush into Hershey’s zone and David Kase fed Foerster, and the puck hit the rookie’s skate and slid past Hershey netminder Zach Fucale to make it 1-1.
Lehigh Valley kept the pressure on, scoring two more times before the period ended, with both goals coming on the power play.
Derrick Pouliot unloaded a slap shot from the left point past Fucale at 8:30, off a pass from Ryan Fitzgerald to give Lehigh Valley a 2-1 edge. With two Bears in the penalty box, Fitzgerald slammed the rebound of a Logan Day point shot past a sprawled Fucale to make it 3-1 Phantoms, with just 4.9 seconds remaining on the two-man advantage.
In the second period the only goal came from Lehigh Valley’s Wade Allison at 7:23. His shot from the left side hit the crossbar and fell into the cage.
Hershey went 0-for-4 on the power play, while Lehigh Valley was 2-for-7. McIntyre stopped 32 shots to earn the win in goal for the Phantoms, who have won four of the five meetings versus Hershey this season. Furcale’s record is now 3-1-0-1.
The Bears are back in action on Friday versus the Binghamton Devils in Newark, New Jersey.
The last time the Bears had a week between games while in-season was in November 2019. The Bears played at Giant Center on Saturday, Nov. 16, claiming a 2-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers, thanks to a late Mike Sgarbossa goal. The club didn’t take the ice again until the following Saturday, dropping a 3-2 decision at Bridgeport.
This game marked the one-third mark of the 36-game AHL schedule for the Bears. Hershey is scheduled to have a full week between games one additional time this season, pending any schedule changes. The club hosts Lehigh Valley on Saturday, May 8, then is off until the following Saturday, May 15 when they host Binghamton.
Andrew Nielsen signed with the Bears last week and made his debut Sunday. Nielsen has played in 226 career AHL games with Toronto and Stockton, registering 79 points (20g, 59a), 347 penalty minutes, and a +13 rating.