Phantoms Fall in Rivalry Showdown

Mike Vecchione Scores Winner Against Former Team

January 31, 2024

Allentown, PA – Former Phantoms forward Mike Vecchione (12th, 13th) scored a pair of goals for the visiting Hershey Bears including the game-winner with just 6:19 left as Lehigh Valley dropped a 4-2 decision on Wednesday night at PPL Center. Cooper Marody (10th) and Ronnie Attard (9th) scored a pair of 4-on-4 goals back-to-back in the second period to put Lehigh Valley in the lead at 2-1 but Clay Stevenson slammed the door shut after that to provide the Bears with the comeback opportunity.

It was just the second time this season for the Phantoms to lose a game in regulation after carrying the lead into the locker room at the second intermission.

Vecchione was a popular Phantom in his first two seasons of pro hockey in 2017-18 and 2018-19 scoring 32 goals in 132 games played for the Black and Orange. But this is the third season for the Union College product as a member of the Hershey Bears and the 30-year-old AHL veteran clearly felt quite comfortable in his return to the Allentown environs.

Hershey (35-7-2) took a 1-0 lead in the opening period on Vecchione’s first of two goals when he converted on a power-play give-and-go with Ivan Miroshnickenko at 13:11 into the game. Felix Sandstrom made a number of strong stops in the first period among his 13 total denials as Hershey had an early 14-7 shots advantage in the penalty-filled frame that also saw both teams go on the man-advantage two times each.

Lehigh Valley (17-17-7) got it going in the second period when again the game was hit with multiple infractions. This time, both teams were down a man and the Phantoms took advantage of the more open ice availed to them for consecutive 4-on-4 tallies. Defenseman Adam Ginning identified lanes to carry the puck in deep as he set up both goals. He rushed all the way up to the left of the cage after a connection from Adam Brooks to set up a centering opportunity to the right side of the crease where Marody was there to deposit his 10th of the season at 11:03 into the second for a 1-1 tie.

Just 1:22 later, it was Ginning again. This time Ronnie Attard had the handoff from the high slot and Ginning took it to almost exactly the same spot before leaving it on the doorstep where Brendan Furry and Attard were digging furiously for the free puck. Attard was knocked down in the physical scramble but still found the handle to push home his ninth of the year and give the Phantoms a 2-1 lead at 13:41 into the second period.

Ginning recorded his 10th and 11th assists of the season as he notched a multi-point game for a second time this year and first since October 22 against Springfield.

Hershey roared back in the third with Jimmy Huntington (11th) tying the game from behind the line on the right-wing side of the cage when he banked a shot off the back of the leg of Sandstrom and into the net. Pierrick Dube’s stick was neatly tied up by Emil Andrae as the centering pass rolled through the crease but the scramble continued and Huntington was there to stay with it and convert on the equalizer at 2-2 just 1:16 into the third.

Vecchione emerged on a 2-on-1 rush and decided to take the shot himself from the top of the left circle as he went top shelf past the right shoulder of Sandstrom to put the Bears ahead at 3-2 with only 6:19 remaining.

Lehigh Valley pushed back and pulled the goaltender for an extra-attacker in efforts to find an equalizer but Pierrick Dube caught a stroke of luck when his dig on the half-boards in his own zone and subsequent clear found the empty-net with 2:04 remaining to cap the night for a 4-2 final count.

The I-78 rivalry continues with a Groundhog’s Day repeat rematch at PPL Center as the Phantoms and Bears will again tussle on Friday night in Game 9 out of 12 in the season series. Friday is also Phantoms Premier Member Appreciation Night and marks the beginning of the 10 Years in the Valley Celebration Weekend which continues on Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

1st 13:11 – HER, M. Vecchione (12) (C. Priskie, I. Miroshnichenko) (PP) (0-1)

2nd 11:03 – LV, C. Marody (10) (A. Ginning, A. Brooks) (4×4) (1-1)
2nd 12:25 – LV, R. Attard (9) (B. Furry, A. Ginning) (4×4) (2-1)

3rd 1:16 – HER, J. Huntington (11) (P. Dube) (2-2)
3rd 13:41 – HER, M. Vecchione (13) (P. Dube, A. Ness) (2-3)
3rd 17:56 – HER, P. Dube (23) (ENG) (2-4)

LV 27 – HER 31

LV 0/5, HER 1/4

LV – F. Sandstrom (L) (7-6-2) (27/30)
HER – C. Stevenson (W) (16-5-1) (25/27)

Lehigh Valley (17-17-7)
Hershey (35-7-2)

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Friday, February 2 (7:05) – Hershey at Lehigh Valley – 10th Anniversary Celebration Weekend

Saturday, February 3 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley – 10th Anniversary Celebration Weekend – Alumni Reunion with Colin McDonald, Sam Morin and More!

Sunday, February 4 and Monday, February 5 – AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose, Cal. Samu Tuomaala will represent the Phantoms on the Atlantic Division All-Stars.

Friday, February 9 (7:05) – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Lehigh Valley