Hershey Outlasts Phantoms’ Spirited Comeback at PPL Center

Hagg Nets 1st of the Season in Rivalry Showdown

December 2, 2016

Lehigh Valley, PA – Jordan Weal notched a goal and an assist Friday evening and Robert Hagg tallied his first goal of the season as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms orchestrated a spirited comeback in a 4-3 setback to the Hershey Bears in front of 7,181 fans at PPL Center. T.J. Brennan (6th) also found the back of the net for Lehigh Valley as the Phantoms moved to 13-6-1 overall this season.

jsp28468With two points on Friday, Weal increased his team-leading point total to 21 total points (8 goals, 13 assists) while Hagg became the 19th different Phantoms skater to score a goal this season. Meanwhile, Brennan’s goal put him in sole possession of second-place on Lehigh Valley’s scoring chart with 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists).

Weal and Brennan both scored as part of a Phantoms’ power play that produced two conversions in seven opportunities. Friday’s outing was already the ninth multi-power play goal game this season for Lehigh Valley as the Phantoms have now produced an impressive 24 man-advantage markers through the team’s first 20 games.

Meanwhile, Lehigh Valley’s penalty kill was a perfect 4-on-4 and has now allowed just two power play goals against over the club’s last five games.

gh8a9359Making his ninth consecutive start between the pipes, Alex Lyon registered 19 saves on 23 shots in moving to 7-4-1 overall this season.

Friday’s contest also marked the return of forward Andy Miele to the Phantoms’ lineup after he has missed the previous 10 games due to injury.

The rivalry showdown between Lehigh Valley and Hershey was the third overall meeting between these two teams this year and the first to take place in downtown Allentown. The Pennsylvania foes will collide again on Saturday at Giant Center in Hershey before the rivalry series shifts back to Lehigh Valley on Friday, December 16.

Christian Thomas (2 goals, assist), Travis Boyd (goal, assist) and Liam O’Brien (2 assists) paced the offensive effort for the Bears while Hershey’s Joe Cannata earned the victory in goal with 23 saves on 26 Phantoms shots.

Hershey opened the scoring late in the first period when, with less than two and a half minutes remaining in the opening frame, Brennan blocked Boyd’s left wing offering only to see the rebound pop into the slot where it was promptly slammed in by Bowey for his third goal of the season. Boyd and Thomas assisted on the five-on-five conversion netted 17:33 into the first frame.

gh8a9371The Bears doubled their lead just prior to the midway point of the contest when Thomas was able to work a puck off the half boards before stepping into the slot and snapping home his 10th goal of the season. The unassisted even-strength strike came exactly 9:57 into the middle stanza.

Hershey then extended its lead to a 3-0 advantage a little over five minutes later when a two-on-one between Thomas and Liam O’Brien produced a spectacular glove save by Lyon only to see the rebound deflect off the skate of the back-checking Weal and into the cage. O’Brien garnered the only assist on the five-on-five tally scored 14:59 into the second period.

The Phantoms remained resilient though and sliced into Hershey’s lead before the close of the second period when, while on the power play, Brennan snapped in a perfect shot from the top of the left wing circle for his sixth goal of the season. Weal and Mark Zengerle assisted on the man-advantage marker poured in 18:55 into the middle frame.

The Bears re-established their three-goal advantage in the opening minute of the final period when Boyd chipped in his fifth goal of the season from O’Brien and Christian Djoos.

But Lehigh Valley wasn’t about to give up. After relentless pressure, the Phantoms trimmed the deficit back down to two thanks to a highlight-reel, end-to-end goal by Weal. After collecting the puck atop the Lehigh Valley goal crease, Weal sliced through Hershey’s defense before slipping to the top of the goal crease and burying his eighth goal of the season. Lyon claimed the only assist on the five-on-three goal scored 8:08 into the third period.

The Phantoms then trimmed the deficit down to a single goal when a bouncing puck in the slot landed on the stick of Hagg who made no mistake in quickly snapping home his first goal of the year. Greg Carey and Miele assisted on the even-strength strike scored 15:49 into the final frame.

Lehigh Valley continued to push into the game’s dying moments and had one final opportunity sizzle just wide as Carey’s one-time blast with less than 10 seconds remaining ever so slightly missed the target.

The Phantoms are back in action on Saturday when they head to Giant Center in Hershey for a rematch with the Bears. Lehigh Valley then caps this week’s action on Sunday in a 3:00 p.m. showdown at the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

The Phantoms are then back in action at PPL Center for a pair of games next weekend against the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. First, on Friday, December 9, there’s a Youth Winter Hat Giveaway courtesy of PPL Corporation where the first 2,500 kids 14 and under receive a free Phantoms youth winter hat courtesy of PPL Corporation. Then, on Saturday, December 10, it’s the annual Teddy Bear Toss presented by Dan’s Camera City where fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used teddy bears and stuffed animals to the game and throw them onto the ice when the Phantoms score their first goal. All bears/stuffed animals will then be donated to Valley Youth House to be distributed to children across the Lehigh Valley. A limited number of tickets remain for both Friday and Saturday’s games and can be purchased online HERE.

RISE UP! Another thrilling season of Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey at PPL Center is underway! Reserve your season tickets and group outings for the 2016-2017 season of Phantoms hockey today. For more information on how to reserve your seat at PPL Center to the hottest ticket in town, call the Phantoms front office today at 610-224-GOAL [4625]!

And for the latest Phantoms news, visit www.phantomshockey.com or follow the team on Facebook (www.facebook.com/lehighvalleyphantoms), Twitter (@lvphantoms), Instagram (@lehighvalleyphantoms) and Snapchat (lvphantoms).

The Phantoms are thrilled to host the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross at PPL Center January 28-30. The AHL All-Star Classic weekend includes a Phan Fest during the day on Saturday, January 28 and a Tailgate Party that evening, followed by the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 29 and the 2017 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 30. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime event. Packages starting at just $67 for the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross are on sale now and include admission to Saturday’s Phan Fest & Tailgate Party, Sunday’s AHL All-Star Skills Competition and Monday’s All-Star Game. To purchase tickets, please visit www.phantomshockey.com or www.pplcenter.com.

The Phantoms are coming off their 20th Anniversary Season and second campaign in the Lehigh Valley playing at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Established in 1996, the Phantoms spent their first 13 seasons at the Spectrum in Philadelphia before re-locating to Glens Falls, New York in 2009 where the team spent the next five seasons as the Adirondack Phantoms. A new era of Phantoms hockey began in the fall of 2014 when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms began play at the state-of-the-art PPL Center. Through 20 incredibly successful campaigns, the Phantoms have captured two Calder Cup Championships (1998, 2005), two Conference Championships (1998, 2005), two Regular Season Titles (1996-97, 1997-98) and four Division Championships (1996-97, 1997-98, 1998-99, 2003-04).