Captain Cal’s Shorties Drive Exciting Comeback

Phantoms Rally Against Hershey in 3-2 Win

January 30, 2022

Lehigh Valley, PA – Cal O’Reilly tied a Phantoms’ franchise record with a pair of shorthanded goals in the same game as Lehigh Valley rallied from behind to top the Hershey Bears 3-2 on Sunday evening at PPL Center.

Trailing 2-1 in the third period. O’Reilly’s second shortie of the game tied the score at 2-2 with just 6:46 left on a quick brakaway. And barely more than two minutes later, Linus Sandin scored on the rebound of a Jackson Cates shot to give the Phantoms the win. Popular Phantoms’ alum Mike Vecchione scored both goals for the Bears in the losing cause.

O’Reilly, who was away from the team earlier this week on paternity leave with the birth of his third child, became the first Lehigh Valley player and just the second in franchise history to strike with a pair of shorthanded markers joining Jason Akeson of the Adirondack Phantoms who notched two shorties on March 21, 2014 at the Utica Comets.

O’Reilly now has three shorthanded goals this season, all against Hershey. It is the second time this year for the Phantoms to score two shorthanded goals in the same game against the Bears. Jackson Cates and O’Reilly had scored on the same power play in a game at Hershey on November 10.

The Phantoms have points in 14 of their last 17 games at 11-3-3 as they reached .500 for the season at 14-14-8 while knocking off the first-place team in the division on consecutive nights.

Lehigh Valley opened the scoring on Cal O’Reilly’s first shorthanded goal of the game when Charlie Gerard hustled up to steal the puck no the forecheck. His quick drop for an open O’Reilly beat Bears’ goalie Zach Fucale with 11:56 remaining in the first for a 1-0 lead.

Felix Sandstrom was on top of his game and held the Bears off the scoresheet until late in the second period. Mike Vecchione scored on the power play with 2:04 left in the second period to forge a 1-1 deadlock after two.

Hayden Hodgson dropped the gloves with Hershey’s Jake Massie at the end of the second period to give the home team an energy boost into the locker room.

Hershey took the lead with 13:15 remaining in the third when Vecchione deflected downwards a point-shot from Lucas Johansen that bounced off the ice and over the right pad of Felix Sandstrom. It was Vecchione’s ninth goal of the season.

The Bears were buzzing and on the hunt for another with the Phantoms trying to hang on. Adam Clendening took an inadvertent Delay of Game penalty when the puck sailed over the glass from the defensive zone and a gassed Lehigh Valley squad that had only one shot on goal to that point in the third period found themselves down a man and needing a goal.

Enter the Phantoms’ shorthanded attack again. Linus Hogberg had a penalty-kill clear again and connected with Sandin on the right boards who neatly connected with a rushing O’Reilly up the middle. The 35-year-old captain evened the score on an electrifying elevated backhander on the breakaway going to the top-right corner with 7:46 remaining in the third.

The Phantoms pushed up ice again with Jackson Cates shooting from the right boards on the rush. Garrett Wilson got a piece of the puck on its way to the net which bounded off the right pad of Fucale and over to an open Sandin in the left circle who buried the game-winner with 5:34 remaining.

Lehigh Valley improved to 3-1-1 against the Bears. The Phantoms had knocked first-place Hartford out of the top spot with a 4-0 win on Saturday night and then followed that up by defeating the new first-place team on Sunday in the form of their 3-2 triumph over Hershey.

The Phantoms next play at the Bridgepor tIslanders with a Wednesday morning game at 10:30 a.m.

The next home game for the Phantoms is on Friday, February 4 against the Providence Bruins on Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Night.

1st 8:04 – LV, C. O’Reilly (7) (C. Gerard) (SH) 1-0

2nd 7:56 – HER, M. Vecchione (8) (A. Jonsson-Fjallby, L. Johansen) (PP) 1-1

3rd 6:45 – HER, M. Vecchione (9) (L. Johansen, B. Pinho) 1-2
3rd 12:14 – LV, C. O’Reilly (8) (L. Sandin, L. Hogberg) (SH) 2-2
3rd 14:26 – LV L. Sandin (6) (G. Wilson, J. Cates) 3-2

LV 22 – HER 28

LV 0/2 – HER 1/5

LV – Felix Sandstrom (W) (5-10-4) (26/28)
HER – Zach Fucale (L) (6-4-3) (19/22)

LV 14-14-8
HER 21-13-5