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Hershey Records 20th Victory of Season

BY DON SCOTT

Ethen Frank’s first career two-goal game led the Hershey Bears (20-6-2-1) to a 4-2 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-11-2-1) on Wednesday night at the PPL Center. Hershey became the first American Hockey League team to reach 20 wins this season.

The victory also pushed Hershey’s record against Lehigh Valley this season to 5-0-0-0, and gave the Chocolate and White their 20th victory in only 29 games, the second-fastest 20-win campaign in franchise history. This total is surpassed only by the 2020-21 Bears in a shortened season that saw Hershey hit the 20-win plateau in its 28th contest.

In doing so, the Bears did surpass the club’s full-season mark of 20 wins in 30 games established by Hershey in 2009-10, 2008-09, 1996-97, 1946-47 and 1941-42.

Frank gave Hershey a 1-0 lead at the six-minute mark of the opening period when he slammed the rebound of Jake Massie’s shot past the pads of Lehigh Valley net minder Pat Nagle for his ninth of the season. Mike Vecchione added a secondary assist on the goal.

The Phantoms answered with two quick strikes in the final two minutes of the opening frame when Rate Antismog buried a chance past Hunter Shepard at 18:42 and Elliot Decoyers scored 24 seconds later at 19:06 to put Lehigh Valley up 2-1.

The Bears pulled even at 11:05 of the second period when Dylan McIlrath sent the puck out of the defensive zone to Matt Stroke who located Connor McMichael for a two-on-one rush up the left wing to score his sixth of the season.

With the score tied in the third, Hershey took a 3-2 lead on a power-play strike from Frank when he one-timed an Aaron Ness pass at 10:22 for his second of the contest. Mike Sgarbossa earned the secondary assist.

Hershey sealed the game with an empty-net goal by Mason Morelli at 19:50 with Shane Gersich assisting on the goal for his 100th career professional point.

Shots finished 29-23 favoring Lehigh Valley. The Bears were one-for-three on the power play while Lehigh Valley went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

Hershey will visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 27 at 7:05 p.m.

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