Lehigh Valley is 5-0 vs. Hershey at PPL Center
April 8, 2022
Lehigh Valley, PA – Wade Allison (9th) broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period with an amazing one-handed backhand swat from his knees and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms took momentum from the go-ahead tally all the way to the end in a 4-1 victory over the Hershey Bears on Friday night at PPL Center. Isaac Ratcliffe (9th), Tanner Laczynski (6th) and Cal O’Reilly (19th) also scored for the Phantoms who picked up their fourth win in the last five games.
Lehigh Valley (26-28-11) received another top-notch performance in net with Felix Sandstrom knocking away 31 of 32 shots he faced.
Tanner Laczynski had the best chances in a scoreless first period with two shorthanded opportunities. His 2-on-1 rush up the right wing saw him take the shot himself blasting it off the iron. A few minutes later, he escaped on a breakaway but missed high, perhaps off the shoulder of Zach Fucale.
Isaac Ratcliffe opened the scoring early in the second period with his drive from center point after Egor Zamula and Hayden Hodgson worked it high-to-low and then back to high where Ratcliffe had rotated back. The big winger, who usually gets his goals at the net front, fired from way back near the blue line to give the Phantoms the lead.
Mike Vecchione (14th) responded for Hershey (31-27-9) with his power-play one-timer from the right dot after a cross-ice pass by Bobby Nardella. The former Phantom’s drive pinged off the inside of the post on the short-side and just past the glove of Sandstrom to get the Bears on the board at 1-1.
Allison’s spectacular goal came after the Bears had been consistently pushing and threatening to take the lead following Vecchione’s tying marker. Lehigh Valley hung on thanks to several key blocks and big saves by Sandstrom.
Adam Clendening took a little drop back from Cooper Zech and spotted Allison down ice. Clendening’s pass connected with Allison cutting across to his left. Moving the puck forward on his backhand and trying to fight off a defender staying with him, Allison almost had his opportunity roll too far away and out of reach. But, from his knees, Allison adeptly swatted a one-handed effort at the puck well in front of him and somehow knocked it through the five-hole of Hershey goaltender Zach Fucale for one of the most impressive and coolest goals of the season to give Lehigh Valley a 2-1 lead with 1:25 remaining in the second period.
Just 50 seconds later, Tanner Laczynski blasted a one-timer from the high-right slot on the power play to push the lead to 3-1 on a set up by Cal O’Reilly.
Hershey wasn’t getting as many big chances in the third period as Lehigh Valley protected its 3-1 lead.
Late in the period, Adam Johnson took a Wade Allison feed and motored up the left wing drawing out the goalie. When Johnson carried behind the goal, he spotted a hustling Cal O’Reilly trailing into the slot. Johnson’s pass from behind the net and around to the other side connected with O’Reilly who tapped in his career-best 19th of the season with 2:07 left for a 4-1 lead to seal the victory.
O’Reilly’s previous high for goals in a season was 15 years ago when he was a 20-year-old rookie with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2006-07 where he had 18 goals. Now 35 years old, the Phantoms’ captain has eclipsed that mark and set a new personal best.
Lehigh Valley has gone 4-1-0 in its last five games and improved to 6-4-1 against Hershey. The Phantoms are 5-0-0 against Hershey at PPL Center.
The Phantoms return to action on Sunday with a 3:00 p.m. tilt at the Bridgeport Islanders. Lehigh Valley has 11 games remaining in the regular season including seven at home.
The Phantoms open a three-game homestand on Wednesday, April 13 in a rematch against the Hershey Bears. Also arriving to PPL Center during the Phantoms’ upcoming stretch of home games will be the Bridgeport Islanders on Friday, April 15 and the Providence Bruins on Saturday, April 16 on Pride Night.
2nd 5:39 – I. Ratcliffe (9) (H. Hodgson, E. Zamula) 1-0
2nd 11:05 – M. Vecchione (14) (B. Nardella, C. Franson) (PP) 1-1
2nd 18:35 – W. Allison (9) (A. Clendening, C. Zech) 2-1
2nd 19:25 – T. Laczynski (6) (C. O’Reilly, A. Clendening) (PP) 3-1
3rd 17:51 – C. O’Reilly (19) (A. Johnson, W. Allison) 4-1
LV 27 – HER 32
LV 1/2, HER 1/4
LV – F. Sandstrom (W) (15-17-3) (31/32)
HER – Z. Fucale (L) (10-13-4) (23/27)
Lehigh Valley (26-28-11)