BY JULIE BEIDLER
ALLENTOWN – To say it probably was not the start that the Hershey Bears wanted Saturday night in Allentown against in-state rival, Lehigh Valley, would be an understatement. The Bears underwhelmed in their 7-2 loss to open their 80th season.
Lehigh Valley got a hattrick from Danick Martel, who opened and closed the scoring on the night.
After Martel’s first goal, which came just 2:19 into the game, the Bear eventually tied the score on a Chandler Stephenson goal. Colby Williams earned the assist, near the midway point of the second period.
The two teams then traded goals, as Martel scored his second just 80 seconds after Stephenson’s, to make it 2-1.
Just over six minutes later, John Albert netted his first goal for the Bears, tying the game on the power play. Wayne Simpson and Williams recorded the assists.
But the Phantoms went on to score the game’s final five goals. The first of those came just 69 seconds after Albert tied the game. The final four all came in the third period.
Parker Milner started in goal for the Bears, as regulars Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek were both sidelined with lower body injuries. Both are considered to be minor. Milner stopped 24 of 30 shots on the night.
Hershey was one-for-four on the power play and three-for-three on the penalty kill on the evening.
The Bears will host Belleville Saturday night and Lehigh Valley on Sunday. The first 8000 fans on Saturday night will receive a PNC Bank schedule magnet. Sunday is Dietz and Watson Dollar Dog Night and the first 6000 fans will receive a AAA 80th Season car magnet.
What we’ve learned - The Bears, after two good showings in the preseason against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, stumbled mightily out of the gate. They were able to tie the game twice, but the Phantoms put the game out of reach with four goals in the third period. Hershey needs to play a full 60-minute game.
Who’s hot - Colby Williams earned assists on both of Hershey’s goals.
The road ahead - Hershey hosts Belleville at Giant Center Saturday in the first match-up between the two clubs. They will then get a chance for redemption Sunday night.
Three Takeaways -
Defensively, the Bears need to allow fewer shots on net. Milner saw 30 shots on the night, but with both regulars sidelined with “minor lower body injuries” the Bears defense definitely needed to step up and keep pucks away from the net.
Offensively, the Bears looked a little out-of-sync. They need to find some rhythm with each other on the ice.
The Bears did cut down their penalties from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton preseason game.