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Phantoms drop fourth straight to divisional rival in ugly 6-1 loss in Allentown

Can this series vs. the Bears be over now?

Pat Jacoby Photography

ALLENTOWN— With help from six different goal-scorers, Hershey took its fourth-straight victory over Lehigh Valley in a 6-1 trouncing in the PPL Center, Friday.

And on Melvin's birthday.

***

After falling to 2-0 early in the first period, Terry Murray called a Peter Laviolette timeout after the Bears second goal of the game, and the Phantoms immediately turned things around. Just seconds later Taylor Leier tipped one past Phillipp Grubauer, cutting the Bears early first period lead in half.

The center-ice faceoff after Leier’s goal also got the Phantoms home crowd of 8,743 fans going, as Jay Rosehill and Liam O’Brien dropped the gloves in a spirited bout in a big push by the Phantoms.

That push, however, did not last in the second period as the Phantoms allowed three goals in the second frame, and two more in the third period, digging the knife in deeper.

Phantoms starter Anthony Stolarz was pulled after 35 minutes and four-goals allowed. Rob Zepp allowed a goal in his first 30 seconds in net, and another that resembled a shootout goal from Chandler Stephenson.

  • While Hershey has been a consistent challenge, the Phantoms have allowed Hershey to take control of the rivalry as of late, winning their last four contests, and outscoring the Phantoms 22-7 (!) in their last four wins, 29-16 total this season.
  • Anthony Stolarz made his fifth start against the Bears Friday. The 21-year-old is 1-3 against the rival this season, despite playing in the last four Phantoms losses versus the Bears. While the rookie Anthony Stolarz’s confidence has improved since his poor AHL start, he is 6-9-1-1 and has been pulled in roughly a quarter of his starts (4 in 18) and is 1-5 since he sustained a mild concussion on Dec. 26.
  • While the Phantoms' goaltending has not been as consistent as a playoff-contending AHL team needs, Murray said the team is putting too much pressure on the guys between the pipes to win games, as skaters are struggling with the fundamentals and composure.

"We have to learn how to have composure in pressure situations, and that comes from experience," Murray said. "You have to come to a time in your career where you break through mentally, emotionally. You learn how to deal."

  • Turnovers were a challenge for the Phantoms tonight as many passes in the offensive and neutral zone ended up on the wrong team's stick. Adam Comrie had a detrimental turnover behind Stolarz which landed right on the stick of Hershey's Liam O’Brien, who was able to net his first goal of the season.
  • On Thursday night the Phantoms sent 36 shots to the net, way above average. Head coach Terry Murray liked the amount of action getting to the net despite the losing score (4-1 to Albany on Jan. 29). Tonight however, the turnovers and takeaways prevented the Phantoms from sending shots to the net, with just six shots in the first period and it took over 30 minutes for the Phantoms to put up more than 10 shots on the board. By the end of the game the Bears had out-shot Lehigh Valley 35-25, and had converted on more than 17 percent of their attempts on net.