Hershey Nudges Past Phantoms 6-4. Playoffs are Next!
April 15, 2023
Hershey, PA – Brendan Furry made quite the impression in his opportunity on the top line in the last game of the regular season. The forward out of Minnesota State registered one goal and two assists, the first points of his career, in just his third pro game. But Ethen Frank recorded a hat trick to lead the Bears to a 6-4 decision on Saturday night at GIANT Center.
Lehigh Valley (37-29-6) also received final goals of the season from Bobby Brink (12th), Louie Belpedio (8th) and Olle Lycksell (14th) in the team’s comeback efforts. The Phantoms battled back from one-goal deficits to tie the count on three different occasions before a crazy bouncing puck was deemed across the line on video-review to put Hershey ahead for good in the third.
The Phantoms now await the result of Sunday’s Springfield vs. Providence game to learn their first-round playoff opponent and schedule. If Springfield wins tomorrow then the Phantoms will meet the Thunderbirds in the Best of Three series to open the postseason. If Providence wins (in regulation or overtime) then Lehigh Valley will end up playing Charlotte in the first round of the playoffs.
Hershey (44-19-9) opened the scoring on a blast from the right point by Bobby Nardella to the upper-far corner at 8:17 just seconds after a power play had expired.
Lehigh Valley answered just 25 seconds later with Elliot Desnoyers digging a puck free from the side of the netting with Bobby Brink charging in to bury a goal in a second consecutive game.
Hershey took the lead again at 4:08 into the second period on a pick-off at the blue line by Mike Vecchione and a tip cutting in front of the net by Ethen Frank.
The Phantoms were again quick to respond with the first career goal for Brendan Furry just 36 seconds later this time. The Toledo, Ohio native knocked away a pass in the Phantoms zone. Artem Anisimov tried a shot off the pads of Hunter Shepard on the rush and Tyson Foerster quickly tracked down the puck to set up Furry in the high slot who blasted his first pro goal to the stick side of Shepard for a 2-2 tie.
Frank put the Bears back ahead at 7:38 with a blast from the left wing following a cross-ice feed by Vecchione.
Lehigh Valley wasn’t quite as quick to achieve the equalizer this time but still didn’t waste too much time to again even the count. It was less than five minutes later for Furry to find Belpedio who dangled in from the point to set up an open shot from the right circle to the far post and achieve a 3-3 tie into the second intermission.
Nardella’s point shot at 5:59 in the third was not initially ruled a goal. After a Sam Ersson save deflected the puck up in the air and then pushed away, the officials went to video review at the next promotional timeout and determined that the puck had indeed actually fallen on the side of Ersson’s left leg just inside the line for a good goal to put Hershey back ahead at 4-3. The clock was reset back to the time of the goal.
The Phantoms pressed hard but eventually the Bears pushed ahead and Frank’s shot from the right wing on the rush brought the hats flying inside GIANT Center with 4:01 remaining.
Olle Lycksell scored on the right side of the crease from Furry and Adam Brooks for a 6-on-5 conversion with 2:30 remaining to pull the Phantoms back to within a goal at 5-4.
But Shane Gersich chased down a long attempt for an empty-netter and, after winning the icing race, carried the puck back in front to score his own goal into the empty cage with 1:41 left for the 6-4 final.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms will begin the Calder Cup Playoffs later this week with the opponent and schedule TBD.
Phantoms 2022-23 Leaders:
Points – Tyson Foerster (48)
Goals – Elliot Desnoyers (23)
Assists – Olle Lycksell (31)
Games – Louie Belpedio (70)
PIM – Garrett Wilson (195)
+/- Rating – Adam Ginning (+24)
1st 8:17 – HER, B. Nardella (6) (G. Pilon, J. Snively) 0-1
1st 8:42 – LV, B. Brink (12) (E. Desnoyers, G. Wilson) 1-1
2nd 4:08 – HER, E. Frank (28) (M. Vecchione, G. Carlsson) 1-2
2nd 4:44 – LV, B. Furry (1) (T. Foerster) 2-2
2nd 7:38 – HER, E. Frank (29) (V. Iorio, M. Vecchione) 2-3
2nd 12:29 – LV, L. Belpedio (8) (B. Furry) 3-3
3rd 5:59 – HER, B. Nardella (7) (J. Snively, V. Iorio) 3-4
3rd 15:59 – HER, E. Frank (30) (M. Morellia, S. Gersich) 3-5
3rd 17:30 – LV, O. Lycksell (14) (B. Furry, A. Brooks) (6×5) 4-5
3rd 18:17 – HER, S. Gersich (9) R. Sutter, A. Ness) (EN) 4-6
LV 24 – HER 28
LV 0/3, HER 0/3
LV – S. Ersson (L) (24-17-1) (22/27)
HER – H. Shepard (W) (20-8-5) (20/24)
Lehigh Valley (37-29-6)