Down To The Wire - Bears Finish Phantoms In Instant Classic Series

Sunday, April 30, 2017
Phantoms' playoff run ends on the final day of April. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms fall short in season-ending Game Five loss

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

ALLENTOWN -  In a playoff series between two seemingly even-matched teams, it usually comes down to which team converts on their chances and capitalizes on their opponent's mistakes.

Timely saves and timely scoring go a long way in the spring, and the Hershey Bears have proven time and time again - not just in this first round series win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms - but for many years that they have what it takes to be annual contenders in the American Hockey League (AHL).

The Bears didn't play mistake-free hockey in their Atlantic Division Semifinals series with the Phantoms. Rather, a combination of missed opportunities by the orange and black and some game-changing plays by the chocolate and white proved to be the difference - emanating ever true in Sunday's series-deciding Game Five.

Colin McDonald said it best after Sunday's season-ending 3-2 loss with just four words.

"That's playoff hockey."

While Taylor Leier admitted this Game Five loss for Lehigh Valley is "going to be a tough pill to swallow for awhile", the typical disappointing mood of the losing locker room had a bit of different feel.

This group set out in October to end the franchise's seven-year playoff drought. They put together a 48-win regular season and not only ended the playoff drought, but also began to instill a winning culture that has been largely missed by the Philadelphia Flyers' organization - particularly at the AHL level.

The future is bright for the organization from top to bottom and despite only making their 2017 postseason run last five games in a first round exit, the amount of positive takeaways from the experience bodes well for the Phantoms and Flyers moving into the summer and towards the 2017-18 season.

Phantoms' Lines (Starters in Bold/Italics)

Taylor Leier - Scott Laughton - Colin McDonald
Greg Carey - Corban Knight - Mark Zengerle
Cole Bardreau - Andy Miele - Chris Conner
Danick Martel - Steven Swavely - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

T.J. Brennan - Max Lamarche
Sam Morin - Mark Alt
Robert Hagg - Travis Sanheim

Martin Ouellette - Mark Dekanich

Scratches: Carter Hart (healthy), Anthony Stolarz (injured - out for season), Alex Lyon (MCL sprain), Phil Myers (healthy), Will O'Neill (upper body since 3/11), Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy), Radel Fazleev (healthy), Connor Bunnaman (healthy), Boyd Gordon (lower body since 2/8), Mark Friedman (healthy) and Reece Willcox (healthy)


The Phantoms had strong starts in each of the four games prior to tonight's Game 5, but in the most important first period of the season it was Hershey with a well-played first 20 minutes.

Stanislav Galiev has been a thorn in the Phantoms' side all series long, and it continued Sunday evening. His third goal (fifth point) of the series just 5:32 into the game gave Hershey an early 1-0 lead just seconds after a Phantoms' penalty had expired.

The Bears extended their lead to 2-0 midway through the period on an expert deflection by Christian Thomas. Tom Gilbert floated a shot from the right point that Thomas was able to get a piece of behind his back with the shaft of his stick.

The 2-0 deficit might have been concerning for some teams, but not Lehigh Valley. Unfortunately, it's been a common theme for the season. Some early sluggish play, followed by the need for a response. More times than not, the Phantoms have been able to respond.

In the middle frame, the Phantoms got an early power play after a Madison Bowey tripping minor 1:10 into the period. Lehigh Valley cashed in on their first man advantage of the night shortly later to cut the deficit in half.

T.J. Brennan, from the left circle, got a puck to Travis Sanheim at the center point - using some great puck movement to open up the Bears' penalty kill. Sanheim's shot was off the mark, but the puck bounced off the end boards right to Colin McDonald at the side of the net for a put back to make it a 2-1 game with 2:40 gone in the middle frame.
Heading to the third period in a one-goal game, the feeling in the building was that the Phantoms were almost destined to complete another thrilling comeback.

Even when Hershey went back on top by two goals 6:16 into the final frame, Lehigh Valley never backed down - fighting their way back into the game and drawing back within a goal with 7:10 left in regulation.

A great effort by Taylor Leier on the left wing saw the third year forward win a puck battle entering the offensive zone and his drive to the net was a success - his shot sliding underneath Copley's right arm and trickling ever so slowly into the back of the net as a Bears' defender sliding to make a play took out Leier's legs.
The goal celebration began with Leier sliding into the end boards before being mobbed by his linemates Colin McDonald and Scott Laughton, who were tasked with trying to keep the Bears' top offensive weapons at bay.

Ultimately, the Phantoms came up just short of forcing overtime in the fifth and final game of the series - dropping a 3-2 game and finishing their season with a tough loss on home ice in the first round of the postseason.



1st Period

3:28: LV - (PP) Carey, minor (high-sticking)
5:32: HER - Galiev (3) - Gilbert, Stephenson
11:04: HER - Thomas (1) - Gilbert, Djoos

2nd Period

1:10: HER - (PP) Bowey, minor (tripping)
2:40: LV - PPG McDonald (2) - Sanheim, Brennan
6:26: HER - (PP) Bowey, minor (delay of game)

3rd Period

2:33: LV - (PP) Morin, minor (delay of game)
3:09: LV - (PP) Laughton, minor (high-sticking)
6:16: HER - Williams (1) - Walker, Stephenson
12:50: LV - Leier (1) - Laughton, Morin


Lehigh Valley 0 - 1 - 1 = 2
Hershey 2 - 0 - 1 = 3


Lehigh Valley  7 - 12 - 11 = 30
Hershey Bears  8 - 8 - 10 = 26


LV - Martin Ouellette (23 saves - 26 shots)
HER - Pheonix Copley (28 saves - 30 shots)

Power Play

LV: 1-for-2
HER: 0-for-3

Penalty Kill

LV: 3-for-3
HER: 1-for-2

Attendance: 6,028


Post a Comment