PREVIEW: Phantoms vs. Bears, Game #26

Wednesday, December 21 at 7:05 p.m.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (12-10-3) vs. Hershey Bears (19-6-3)
PPL Center, Allentown, PA

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to PPL Center for the second game of a home-and-home series with the rival Hershey Bears. The Phantoms had their four-game point streak come to an end on Sunday in Chocolatetown in a 5-3 decision. Lehigh Valley (12-10-3) has points in 12 of their last 17 games (10-5-2) to move up to fifth-place in the Atlantic Division.
First-place Hershey (19-6-2) has points in six of the last seven (5-1-1) and has the most points and top points percentage in the AHL. This is Game 5 out of 14 in the rivalry series.

Sunday, December 18, 2022
Bears 5 – Phantoms 3
Jordy Bellerive scored twice and Artem Anisimov registered his eighth goal of the season. Lehigh Valley took a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes remaining but Hershey bounced back with three goals in a span of 1:50 to turn the tables on the Phantoms at GIANT Center. Mike Sgarbossa, Connor McMichael and former Phantom Mike Vecchione scored the consecutive tallies for the Bears in their come-from-behind rivalry win.

Cooper Marody unleashed the stuffed animal chaos with 5:19 remaining in the second period. 8,480 teddy bears rained onto the ice as part of our annual furry fiesta at PPL Center on a goal assisted by Adam Ginning and Elliot Desnoyers. That’s almost 2,000 more than last year. Way to go, Phantoms Phans!!
The grand total is now up to 45,908 donated and thrown teddy bears and stuffed animals in all of Lehigh Valley’s Teddy Bear Toss Nights combined.
Cooper Marody and Adam Ginning joined Phantoms staff in personally delivering the thousands of stuffed animals to our friends at Valley Youth House.

Marody’s goal was the latest in Lehigh Valley Teddy Bear Toss Night history and was only the second time the fans had to wait until the second period to throw their bears. Brett Hextall in 2014 in the team’s first Teddy Bear Toss also scored in the second period. That just built the anticipation and the drama for the fans who couldn’t wait to party!

Teddy Bear Toss Goal History
2014: Brett Hextall
2015: Andrew MacDonald
2016: Nic Aube-Kubel (:59 into the game)
2017: Matt Read
2018: Connor Bunnaman
2019: Chris Bigras
2021: Gerry Mayhew
2022: Cooper Marody (5:19 left in second period)

– Olle Lycksell and Kieffer Bellows have both returned from quick recalls to the Flyers. Lycksell played in two games with Philadelphia on Thursday and Saturday while Bellows played in one game on Saturday.
– Bellerive’s two-goal game on Sunday was his fourth as a pro and his first since his rookie season two years ago.
– The Phantoms’ power play is 13/33, 39.3% over the last 10 games and is 26.1% overall for 5th in the AHL.
– Artem Anisimov has 5 goals in 4 games since signing a standard player contract with the Phantoms for the remainder of the season. The 13-year NHL veteran already has 8 goals with the Phantoms in just 10 games.
– Elliot Desnoyers is tied for third among AHL rookies with 10 goals and also leads the Phantoms in lamplighters
– Olle Lycksell is producing when Artem Anisimov is also in the lineup. He has 3-7-10 in 6 games.
– Kieffer Bellows had a three-game goal streak snapped on Sunday
– The Phantoms are 9-3-3 in one-goal games. Lehigh Valley is 8-0-3 when leading after two periods.
– The Phantoms are 3-2 in decisions after regulation having gone 2-1 in overtime and 1-1 in shootouts..

The rivalry is back for Round 5 out of 14 between the Keystone State competitors. Hershey (19-6-3) rallied from behind on Sunday to snag a 5-3 win over Lehigh Valley. The Bears are tops in the AHL by one percentage point over Providence.
Former Phantom Mike Vecchione (11-13-24) paces the Bears in scoring closely followed by linemate Mike Sgarbossa (10-11-21). Sgarbossa has scored 4-3-7 against Lehigh Valley and Vechione has 3-2-5 in the season series. First-rounder Hendrix Lapierre has scored three of his seven goals against Lehigh Valley. Goaltenders Zach Fucale and Hunter Shepard as well as defenseman Lucas Johansen have all returned from Washington.

Phantoms Scoring Leaders
Tyson Foerster 8-11-19
Olle Lycksell 5-11-16
Elliot Desnoyers 10-5-15
Garrett Wilson 5-8-13
x Cam York 3-10-13

Hershey Scoring Leaders
Mike Vecchione 11-13-24
Mike Sgarbossa 10-11-21
Mason Morelli 4-15-19
Hendrix Lapierre 8-9-17
Ethan Frank 8-9-17

Phantoms Tickets are available HERE

Lehigh Valley Power Play – 26.1% (5th) / Lehigh Valley PP vs. Hershey – 2/8, 25%
Lehigh Valley Penalty Kill – 71.0% (30th)
Hershey Power Play – 15.5% (27th) / Hershey PP vs. Lehigh Valley 5/18, 27.8%
Hershey Penalty Kill – 81.8% (14th)

The Phantoms travel to Springfield, Mass. for a Friday night game against the Thunderbirds before the Holiday Break. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms return to PPL Center on Wednesday, December 28 against the Bridgeport Islanders.

Wednesday, December 21 (7:05) vs. HERSHEY BEARS
Friday, December 23 (7:05) at Springfield Thunderbirds
Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders
Friday, December 30 (7:05) at Utica Comets
Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON PENGUINS


Wednesday, December 21 (7:05) vs. Hershey Bears – Pregame Happy Hour, $2 Miller Lites and Yuenglings

Wednesday, December 28 (7:05) vs. Bridgeport Islanders – Pregame Happy Hour, $2 Miller Lites and Yuenglings

Saturday, December 31 (7:05) vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins – New Year’s Eve Celebration presented by Penn Community Bank. Including festivities and great fun on Hamilton Street right after the game right with the World’s Largest Puck-Drop to ring in 2023!




Broadcast coverage of all Phantoms games with Bob Rotruck is available on the Phantoms 365 app and on Real Oldies 1470-AM in Allentown. Also available on the Listen Live button at
Fans can also watch the games on or can listen on their Smart Speakers at: “Play Phantoms Radio 24/7.”