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In Lehigh Valley, Bears Fall to Phantoms

BY DON SCOTT

The Hershey Bears (28-10-4-1) suffered their first loss of the season to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (21-16-3-2) on Wednesday night, during a 5-2 defeat at PPL Center.

The defeat was Hershey’s first to their I-78 rivals after beginning the season series with a 7-0-0-0 run; the Bears have six more games remaining on the schedule against their Atlantic Division foe.

The loss brought an end to Hershey’s season-high seven-game road point streak (6-0-1-0) that began on Dec. 17. It was also only the second time this season that Hershey suffered consecutive losses in regulation.

The Phantoms initially appeared to have scored 5:01 into the first period, but Cooper Marody’s apparent tally was washed out due to goaltender interference to Hershey’s Zach Fucale.

Hershey took a 1-0 lead when Connor McMichael won an offensive-zone faceoff at the left circle back to the point for Lucas Johansen. His shot from the blue line was deflected by McMichael past Samuel Ersson at 8:22 for his 10th of the season.

Louie Belpedio tied the game for the Phantoms at 6:23 of the middle period when his shot from the blue line dinged in off the crossbar to make it 1-1.

Lehigh Valley made it 2-1 with a power-play goal when Bobby Brink took a cross-crease pass and fired a shot past Fucale at 7:57.

Kevin Connauton gave Lehigh Valley a 3-1 lead on a shot from the left circle that beat Fucale at 10:44. Then Tyson Foerster pushed the Phantoms’ lead to 4-1 with a backdoor tap-in from Artem Anisimov at 12:16.

Hershey out-shot Lehigh Valley 11-3 in the third period, and Aliaksei Protas netted his first of the season at 15:52 when he one-handed Hendrix Lapierre’s pass behind Ersson. Garrett Pilon received a secondary assist.

Any hopes of Hershey closing the 4-2 deficit were ended on Olle Lycksell’s empty-net goal for Lehigh Valley at 17:17.

Shots finished 23-22 in favor of the Phantoms.

Hershey will visit the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at Total Mortgage Arena and then host Lehigh Valley at Giant Center on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.

BEARS NOTES:
The Washington Capitals announced that forward Aliaksei Protas was loaned to Hershey. 

Ethen Frank has been named the AHL Rookie of the Month for January. He is just the fourth Bear to earn AHL Rookie of the Month honors since 1996, joining Marc Denis (March 1998), Oskar Osala (November 2008), and Riley Barber (February 2016). 

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