PREVIEW: Phantoms at Bears, Game #2

Saturday, May 4, 7:00 p.m.
GIANT Center, Hershey, PA
Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Hershey Bears

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms look to even the series in Game 2 of the Atlantic Division semifinals against the first-place Hershey Bears.

The Bears hung for a 2-1 decision in Game 1 on Wednesday night.

The series switches to PPL Center in Allentown for Games 3 and 4 of the season on Wednesday, May 8 and Saturday, May 11.

Get ready for another ORANGE OUT in Wednesday’s Game 3 including another orange Rally Towel giveaway!

How They Got Here:

Lehigh Valley finished a thrilling sweep of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in their Best-of-3 series in the first round via Jacob Gaucher’s overtime goal at PPL Center on Friday, April 26.

The Kilpatrick Trophy Winning Hershey Bears received a first-round bye. The Bears are also the defending Calder Cup Champions. The top team in the AHL finished the regular season with a  franchise record 53 wins and 111 points and fell just short of breaking the 31-year-old record for best full-season points percentage in league history.

Tanner Laczynski broke through with 4:32 left against Baz Bastien Award-winning goaltender Hunter Shepard. But the Bears hung on for a 2-1 win in Game 1 of the Best of 5 Atlantic Division semifinals on Wednesday night at GIANT Center.
Sheppard slammed the door on the Phantoms with 30 saves on 31 shots. Hendrix Lapierre and Henrik Rybinski scored in the first and second periods for the Bears.
The officials let the teams play. There were zero power plays for either side. That is the first time that has ever happened in a Phantoms playoff game. It is also the first time Hershey has had a game without a power play in the postseason (records available since 1980).

Jacob Gaucher became the second player for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to score a playoff-series clinching goal in overtime when he beat Joel Blomqvist on the rebound of a Brendan Furry shot to eliminate the Wilkes-Barre/Sc Penguins on April 26, 2024. The incredible moment came in the return of the postseason to PPL Center which was hosting a playoff game for the first time in six years.
Max Lamarche was the first to do clinch a playoff series in overtime with his goal in Game 4 against the Providence Bruins on April 28, 2018. That was also the first-ever series win for Lehigh Valley.
Other playoff overtime goals for Lehigh Valley from Chris Conner at Hershey in 2017 and Alex Krushelnyski at Charlotte in 2018 were on the road and did not clinch series wins.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms Playoff Overtime Goals
Chris Conner – April 24, 2017 – Phantoms 2 at Hershey 1 (First LV Playoff Win)
Max Lamarche – April 28, 2018 – Phantoms 4 vs. Providence 3 (Phantoms win series 3-1)
Alex Krushelnyski – May 9, 2018 – Phantoms 2 at Charlotte 1 (5th OT, Longest game in AHL history)
Jacob Gaucher – April 26, 2024 – Phantoms 5 vs. W-B/Scranton 4 (Phantoms Sweep Penguins)

The Phantoms have qualified for the Calder Cup Playoffs in back-to-back seasons and also made it for the fourth time in the last six years in which the playoffs have been held since 2017.
The Phantoms are also participating in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the 14th time in franchise history which includes two Calder Cup Championships for the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998 and 2005 prior to the team’s arrival in Allentown in 2014.

DOWN 1-0
The Phantoms have found themselves trailing in the postseason 1 game to 0 on 10 previous occasions. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms and/or Philadelphia Phantoms have rallied to win the series four times.
2018 – Lehigh Valley vs. Toronto 0-1 start / Lost Series
2017 – Lehigh Valley vs. Hershey 0-1 start / Lost series
2009 – Philadelphia vs. Hershey 0-1 start / Lost Series
2008 – Philadelphia vs. Albany River Rats 0-1 start / WON Series (4-3)
2004 – Philadelphia vs. W-B/Scranton 0-1 start / WON Series (4-2)
2002 – Philadelphia vs. Syracuse 0-1 start / Lost Series
2001 – Philadelphia vs. Rochester 0-1 start / WON Series (3-1)
2000 – Philadelphia vs. Hershey 0-1 start / Lost Series
1999 – Philadelphia vs. Kentucky 0-1 start / WON Series (4-3)
1997 – Philadelphia vs. Hershey 1-0 / Lost Series

Veteran goaltender Cal Petersen has found his A-Game since he returned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms from the Philadelphia Flyers on February 28 and has established himself as the the goalie the team has turned to in the postseason.
The lefty netminder from Waterloo, Iowa was particularly solid in his last 13 games of the regular season since arriving from Philadelphia going 5-7-1, 2.08, .917 with two shutouts including a playoff-berth clinching win on April 19 at Bridgeport in his last start of the regular season. Petersen surrendered two goals or fewer in eight of his last 13 starts including three of his last four and also five of the last seven.

Phantoms with the most AHL and NHL postseason games (entering the series vs. Hershey):

Adam Brooks – AHL 40 games (10-8-18) + NHL 2 games / Won 2018 Calder Cup with Toronto Marlies
Louie Belpedio – AHL 30 games (3-18-18) (Iowa, Laval, Lehigh Valley)
Garrett Wilson – AHL 18 games (0-5-5) + NHL 10 games (Florida, Pittsburgh) (1-1-2)
Cooper Marody – AHL 20 games (3-7-10) (Bakersfield, Lehigh Valley)
Evan Polei – AHL 20 games (3-1-4) (Bakersfield, Manitoba, Lehigh Valley)
Rhett Gardner – AHL 12 games (5-5-10) (Texas, Lehigh Valley)
Victor Mete – NHL 10 games (0-2-2) (Montreal 2020) + AHL 2 games (0-1-1)
Cal Petersen – AHL 8 games + NHL 1 game (Los Angeles)
Helge Grans – AHL 7 games (Ontario)

This is the sixth time for the Phantoms and Bears to meet in the Calder Cup Playoffs and the second time for Lehigh Valley to play against Hershey. Lehigh Valley’s first-ever playoff series was against the Hershey Bears in the opening round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs in a series that saw the away team win every game in the Best-of-5 set.

Hershey took a pair of one-goal wins at PPL Center on April 21, 2017 and April 22, 2017 including a 1-0 overtime goaltenders duel between Alex Lyon and Pheonix Copley when Nathan Walker scored at 7:38 of overtime. The Bears dramatically rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period of Game 3. Chris Bourque scored the winner with just 33 seconds remaining.
The Phantoms struck back with consecutive wins at GIANT Center including Chris Conner’s overtime goal at 1:49 into overtime on April 24, 2019 after a blocked shot by Andy Miele for a 2-1 win followed by a more dominating 4-1 triumph in Game 4 including two goals by Scott Laughton. But the Bears hung on for a 3-2 win at PPL Center in Game 5 to close the series.

Previous Hershey vs. Phantoms Playoff Series
2017 – Hershey Bears 3 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms 2 (Round 1)
2009 – Hershey Bears 4 – Philadelphia Phantoms 0 (Round 1)
2000 – Hershey Bears 3 – Philadelphia Phantoms 2 (Round 1)
1998 – Philadelphia Phantoms 4 – Hershey Bears 0 (Round 2)
1997 – Hershey Bears 4 – Philadelphia Phantoms 3 (Round 2)

Garrett Wilson accumulated 216 penalty minutes to finish with the most in the AHL for a second consecutive season. He became the first AHL player in eight years to rack up over 200 PIM in a season since Stu Bickell with San Diego in 2015-16.
J-R Avon had five shootout goals to tie for the AHL lead with Trey Fix-Wolansky of Cleveland
Emil Andrae has 15 power-play assists which was first among AHL rookie defensemen and second among AHL rookies overall trailing only Brennan Othmann of Hartford who has 17.

Cooper Marody and Olle Lycksell tied for the team lead with 19 goals apiece.
Marody had 37 helpers on the year giving him the team-crown in that department over Samu Tuomaala who has 28.
Marody also had 56 points this season besting Tanner Laczynski who was next with 44 points in just 49 games.

The Phantoms record when:
– Score 4 or more goals: 21-0-2
– Allow 2 or fewer goals: 19-6-1
– Lead After 1st period: 10-1-3
– Lead After 2nd period: 17-3-1
– One-Goal Games: 19-8-9
– Overtime: 8-6 / Shootout: 4-3

Game 2 – Saturday, May 4 (7:00) at Hershey

Hershey (53-14-5) is coming off an incredible season that rates as the very best in franchise history and the second-best ever in the AHL for a full season. Hershey’s .771 points percentage just barely fell short of the AHL record established 31 years ago by the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers who had a .775 mark. Still the 53-win campaign including 111 points was easily enough to take the AHL’s Kilpatrick Trophy for the regular season title.

The Bears are striving to become the first team to win back-to-back Calder Cups since Hershey did it in 2009 and 2010. Last year, it was former Phantom Mike Vecchione who scored the first-ever Calder Cup Championship Game 7 overtime goal with his dramatic championship winner in Palm Springs, California against the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

Hershey gave up a paltry 2.1 goals per game on just 26 shots allowed to rate as the top defensive team in the AHL. Hunter Shepard (27-4-3, 1.76, .929) was ridiculous in net to win the Baz Bastien Award as the circuit’s top goaltender. His .838 win percentage is second-best in AHL history. Rookie Clay Stevenson (24-10-2, 2.06, .922) wasn’t far behind and led the AHL with seven shutouts, four of which came against the Phantoms.

Joe Snively (14-45-59) and Penn State product Alex Limoges (24-27-51) paced the offense along with Pierrick Dube and Ethen Frank who had 28 and 29 goals respectively. Washington sent several reinforcements to boost the Bears’ roster including captain Dylan McIlrath and fellow defenseman Hardy Haman Aktell, Lucas Johansen and Vincent Iorio as well as first-rounder forwards Hendrix Lapierre and Ivan Miroshnichenko.

Phantoms 2023-24 Scoring Leaders
Cooper Marody 19-37-56
Tanner Laczynski 17-27-44
Samu Tuomaala 15-28-43
Olle Lycksell 19-20-39
Emil Andrae 5-27-32

Bears 2023-24 Scoring Leaders
Joe Snively 14-45-59
Alex Limoges 24-27-51
Pierrick Dube 28-20-48
Ethen Frank 29-18-47
Mike Vecchione 17-21-38

Lehigh Valley PP, 18.4% (15th)
Lehigh Valley Valley PK 79.8% (24th)
LV PP vs. HER 4/47, 8.5%

Hershey PP 20.1% (6th)
Hershey PK 87.7% (1st)
HER vs. LV PP 5/50, 10.0%

Lehigh Valley vs. Hershey = 4-6-2
Hershey vs. Lehigh Valley = 8-2-2

Oct. 28 – Loss – Lehigh Valley 0 at Hershey 4
Nov. 1 – OTL – Lehigh Valley 3 at Hershey 4 (OT)
Nov. 11 – Loss – Hershey 2 at Lehigh Valley 0
Nov. 12 – Win – Lehigh Valley 4 at Hershey 1
Dec. 30 – Loss – Hershey 4 at Lehigh Valley 0
Jan. 7 – OTL – Lehigh Valley 2 at Hershey 3 (OT)
Jan. 13 – Win – Hershey 3 at Lehigh Valley 4 (SO)
Jan. 31 – Loss – Hershey 4 at Lehigh Valley 2
Feb. 2 – Win – Hershey 1 at Lehigh Valley 4
Mar. 3 – Win – Hershey 0 at Lehigh Valley 1 (SO)
Apr. 2 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 0 at Hershey 1
Apr. 12 – LOSS – Lehigh Valley 1 at Hershey 4

Lehigh Valley
Cooper Marody 2-4-6
Garrett Wilson 2-3-5
Olle Lycksell 2-2-4
Adam Ginning 1-3-4
Cal Petersen 2-4-1, 2.51, .903

Pierrick Dube 6-2-8
Joe Snively 1-6-7
Ivan Miroshnichenko 1-5-6
Chase Priskie 1-5-6
Clay Stevenson 4-2-1, 1.42, .948
Hunter Shepard 3-0-1, 1.71, .930

Lehigh Valley
Louie Belpedio 0-4-4
Tanner Laczynski 3-0-3
Emil Andrae 1-1-2
Ronnie Attard 1-1-2
Rhett Gardner 1-1-2
Bobby Brink 0-2-2
Olle Lycksell 0-2-2
Cal Petersen 2-1-0, 2.33, .910

Hendrix Lapierre 1-0-1
Henrik Rybinski 1-0-1
Hunter Shepard 1-0-0, 1.00, .968

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Game 2 – Saturday, May 4 (7:00) at Hershey
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 8 (7:05) at Lehigh Valley
Game 4 – Saturday, May 11 (7:05) at Lehigh Valley
Game 5 – Sunday, May 12 (7:00) at Hershey