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Phantoms take on Bears in last home game before holiday break

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The Phantoms welcome the Hershey Bears tonight in Allentown.

Pat Jacoby Photography

Tonight the Phantoms will square off against the Hershey Bears for the 4th time this season, and will attempt to pull ahead in the series against their intra-state, divisional rivals. The Phantoms currently have a 2-1 edge over the Bears.

The Bears (14-10-2-1) and the Phantoms (12-10-3-1) have a long history, with tonight’s tilt being the 189th meeting between the two East Division rivals. Since the Phantom’s move to the Lehigh Valley the rivalry has grown with 12 scheduled meetings this season and increased intensity at each matchup.

Tonight is the last home game before the Phantoms go on a five-day holiday break. Tonight all fans in attendance will receive a sweet ugly sweater t-shirt.

Bears vs. Phantoms, last time in Lehigh Valley:

The Phantoms welcomed the Bears on November 19, where 60 minutes wasn’t enough hockey after Hershey evened the score following two early first period goals by the Phantoms. The game ended in a shootout where Lehigh Valley’s No. 1 goaltender Rob Zepp denied three of the Bears top shooters, and newly acquired Phantoms center Blair Jones netted the game winner in his Lehigh Valley debut.

The Bears sit in second place in the East Division with 31 points. Lehigh Valley moved up in the East rankings with 28 points on Wednesday after beating the Senators and taking sole possession of third place from Binghamton.

Flyers/ Phantoms goalie situation:

Flyers No. 1 goaltender Steve Mason sustained an injury at practice today and was unable to leave the ice under his own power. If Mason can't travel with the Flyers on their upcoming road trip, the front office is likely to call up veteran Rob Zepp, who has been phenomenal for the Phantoms as of late.

The Flyers also have a goaltender option in 20-year-old Anthony Stolarz who has improved his falling 0-3 in his first few starts in the AHL.

If the Flyers have to call up a Phantoms goaltender, Lehigh Valley will likely bring in Martin Ouellette on loan from the Reading Royals. Ouellette relieved Stolarz in the Phantoms 4-2 loss to Albany two weeks ago.

Phantoms in the record books:

Wednesday, the Phantoms matched the AHL record for three fastest goals scored by the same team.

Lehigh Valley scored three goals in 21 seconds during the first 36 seconds of the game vs. Binghamton earlier this week. After posting a 300.69 GAA, Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond was pulled after 36 seconds between the pipes. The Phantoms would go on to win 5-3, moving up in the standings past the Senators into third in the East Division.