Following consecutive shutout losses, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms came into the Giant Center on Wednesday looking to score a goal and they needed just 20 seconds to accomplish their objective. But then, the Phantoms were kept off the scoreboard for the next 59 minutes and 40 second, as the Hershey Bears left the ice with a 5-1 victory, which ended their three-game skid, and improved the club’s record to 30-23-5-3.
Wade Allison connected on Lehigh Valley’s first shot the game to make it 1-0 Phantoms. It was Allison’s 7th goal of the season with Adam Johnson and Egor Zamula getting the assists.
Hershey scored twice in the first stanza to take the lead and control play the rest of the night.
Hershey’s Shane Gersich connected for his first goal since Jan. 29, finishing on a one-timer from the right wing to make it 1-1 at 16:48. His 12th goal of the season came from the right circle when he beat Phantoms goaltender Felix Sandstrom, with Mike Vecchione and Brett Leason setting up the play.
“I wasn’t happy with the first 20 seconds, that’s for sure, but midway through the period we got better and that resulted in Gersich’s goal,” Hershey head coach Scott Allen said. “He hadn’t scored for some time, but he never gives up, and that’s what I like about him.”
At 18:07, Aliaksei Protas gave Hershey a 2-1 lead with a redirect in front of Sandstrom. Cody Franson sent a rolling puck toward the goal from the right-side boards, and Protas tipped it over Sandstrom’s blocker for his sixth marker of the campaign.
In the second period, Lucas Johansen added to Hershey’s lead at 14:25, taking a perfect feed from Franson to make it 3-1 for his seventh of the season.
Just over a minute later, Malenstyn notched his first of two goals, firing a shot from the slot past a screened Sandstrom at 15:46, with Bobby Nardella and Mason Morelli setting up the play.
In the third period, Hershey outshot Lehigh Valley 10-1, and Malenstyn scored the lone goal on an unassisted, shorthanded breakaway goal at 17:51 for the 5-1 final. It was his tenth goal of the season, and Hershey’s tenth shorthanded goal of the year.
Pheonix Copley (15-8-4) earned the win in goal for Hershey, stopping 26 shots. The Bears outshot Lehigh Valley, 34-27. Hershey was 0-for-5 on the power play and Lehigh Valley was 0-for-2.
The Bears head to Atlantic Division rivals Providence for a Friday contest and then visit Hartford on Saturday.
Copley played in his 156th game to tie Dave Parro for eighth place on the franchise’s all-time franchise list for goalies, and his 85th win is now sixth on the franchise list.
Hershey enters the weekend with 2,999 victories in franchise history. The next win will make the Bears the first team in American Hockey League history to record 3,000 regular season wins.
The Bears initial win in the AHL came in the club’s first game in the league as Hershey skated to a 2-1 win over Providence on home ice on Nov. 5, 1938. Since then, the Bears have served as the oldest continually-operating franchise in the AHL, winning more Calder Cups (11) than any other team.