Phantoms Kept Coming But Fall 2-1
October 17, 2021
Hershey, PA – Lehigh Valley rallied late and had a chance to tie the game with a 6-on-3 attack in the last 1:20 but the Bears’ penalty kill, and goalie Zach Fucale, held tough and pushed through for a 2-1 win on Sunday evening at Giant Center. Tyson Foerster ripped a rocket from the left circle with 30 seconds left but Alex Alexeyev stepped in front of his goalie for a big block.
The game was a story of the Phantoms almost continously coming with one glorious chance after another. But an Isaac Ratcliffe breakaway, a Gerry Mayhew breakaway, a pass for Logan Day on the backdoor, and a Connor Bunnaman shot in the slot were not enough to get anything past Fucale in the Hershey crease. Those were just a few of the grade-A chances for the Phantoms who carried the better of the play for the bulk of the game.
The Phantoms were trailing 2-0 for much of the game on Hershey goals for Phantoms’ alum Mike Vecchione and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. But with 2:30 left, Lehigh Valley finally got one past Fucale with Cam York dangling his way through the left circle and connecting with Mayhew on the back door who scored his first as a Phantom.
Back-to-back crosschecking and delay of game penalties provided the Phantoms the incredible opportunity to tie, or even win, the game with a rare 6-on-3 attack but the Bears penalty kill finished with a flourish in its 8-for-8 performance.
Sam Ersson made his North American pro debut and made a number of strong stops to give the Phantoms a chance to make the comeback.
Vecchione scored in the first period on the rebound of a Tobias Geisser shot that bounced off the left pad of Ersson to the popular former Phantom at the right of the net.
Jonsson-Fjallby scored a somewhat fluky goal midway through the second period when a drive from right-center point took a hard ricochet off the end-boards and straight back out to the right of the net where the Bears’ winger whacked at it in mid-air and through just a little gap on the short-side of Ersson. Hershey thought they had another goal right before the horn at the end of the second period on a shot by Brett Leasson that squeezed through Ersson but the ruling after video-review was that goal came after the clock hit 0:00.
The Phantoms out-chanced their opponents for a second consecutive game and probably carried the better of the play for more of the game in their second straight contest as well. But for a second straight game the Phantoms lost by an identical 2-1 score to open the 2021-22 season.
The 2021-2022 regular season at PPL Center will kick off with “Opening Weekend” October 22-24 beginning with the U.S. Women’s National Team taking on Canada on Friday, October 22 in the “My Why” tour followed by the first Phantoms’ home games of the season against the Hartford Wolf Pack on October 23 featuring a Rally Towel Giveaway following but a Sunday afternoon clash at 3:05 p.m. against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on October 24.
1st 8:49 – HER, M. Vecchione (1) (T. Geisser, A. Jonsson-Fjallby) (0-1)
2nd 9:17 – HER, A. Jonsson-Fjallby (1) (C. Franson, A. Protas) (0-2)
3rd 17:30 – LV, G. Mayhew (1) (C. York) (6-on-5) (1-2)
Shots: LV 24 – HER 23
PP: LV 0/8 – HER 0/2
LV – Sam Ersson (L) (21/23)
HER – Zach Fucale (W) (23/24)