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Bears take first 'official' game at PPL Center, beating Phantoms 3-1

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After going 0-8 on the power play, the Phantoms set up their rivals to take the first official win in the PPL Center.

Lindsey Smith / BSH

ALLENTOWN -- The Phantoms power play needs work.

After 60 minutes and eight power play opportunitie, the Phantoms let their Eastern Conference and divisional rival, the Hershey Bears, take the 3-1 win in the first "official" game in their new arena.

The Phantoms spent a lot of time in the penalty box in the first period, with six minutes on the penalty kill, but the first 20 minutes would be the only solid special teams hockey for the Phantoms all night. After the first period, the Bears killed off seven penalties in a row.

Phantoms goaltender Anthony Stolarz saved 15 of 18. Bears forwards Joel Broda, Stanislav Galiev and Braden Pimm scored three unanswered goals against the Phantoms, with Galiev and Pimm's goals coming within two minutes of each other in the third period. Bears' goalie Pheonix Copley saved 23 of 24 in front of 5,232 new Phantoms fans in the PPL Center.

A few more notes on the loss:

  • With his father in attendance at the preseason opener, Brett Hextall netted the only Phantoms goal of the game, and his first goal in the Flyers franchise nearly halfway through the first.Hextall was assisted by centre Kevin Goumas, who intercepted a pass down the middle as he was coming out of the penalty box. A rebound off of Goumas' shot landed right on Hextall's stick who banked the shot past Copley's left shoulder.
  • With the clock draining in the third period, the Phantoms began to play desperate, make-up hockey. Hasty shots, missed passes and lack of communication (which also doomed Lehigh Valley on the power play) kept the Phantoms from closing the gap late.
  • Hershey went 0-5 on the power play, making it a terrible night for special teams all around.
  • Phantoms starting goaltender Anthony Stolarz noted in post-game interview that he is 100% after being cut by a skate while playing in the Ontario Hockey League in mid-January. Stolarz said despite playing only three complete games since coming off of his injury, he's "better now than [he] was last season."
  • The Phantoms have the opportunity to take a win in the Bears home arena on Friday, Oct. 3 in the GIANT Center for the teams’ second of 14 matchups this season.