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Outdoor Classic: 5 Key Points Before Saturday’s Matchup
With the big game just a few days away, let’s take a look at some key moments that are leading up to the AHL Outdoor Classic between the Hershey Bears and the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
1) Outdoor rematch from 2012.
On January 6th, 2012 the Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms (now Lehigh Valley) squared off at Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. This was the largest crowd for any AHL Outdoor Classic to date, drawing 45,653 people into the stands.
The only two Bears players who will be returning to this rematch are the now Captain Garrett Mitchell and now U.S.A. Olympian Chris Bourque. During the 2012 matchup, Bourque had one goal and two assists.
The game lived up to the hype, especially for Phantom fans. Trailing 3-2 late in the third, Phantom’s forward Ben Holmstrom scored with 20.8 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.
In extra time, Phantom’s forward Shane Harper ended the game 58 seconds into the period.
2) Bears defeating Phantoms last season in playoffs.
The Hershey Bears entered the 2016-2017 Calder Cup playoffs against the heavily favored Lehigh Valley Phantoms. With nothing to lose, the Hershey Bears put all the fight they could and it worked.
Hershey was outshot in just about every game, but they scrapped together 3 wins in the best of 5 series.
Phantom’s goaltender Alex Lyon injured himself during game two, which may have changed the series for the Bears.
Here are the scores for each game:
Game 1: Hershey 1 – Lehigh Valley 0 – OT
Game 2: Hershey 5 – Lehigh Valley 4
Game 3: Lehigh Valley 2 – Hershey 1 – OT
Game 4: Lehigh Valley 4 – Hershey 1
Game 5: Hershey 3 – Lehigh Valley 2
As you can see, the visiting team won each game. Both teams have many players who returned this season. This playoff series sits in the back of the heads of both teams. You can be sure that the Phantoms would love to win this Outdoor Classic, sending home many fans unhappy as payback for last season.
3) Bear’s playing Phantoms 3 out of last 4 games.
Hershey and Lehigh Valley have ran into each other a lot in the recent weeks. They had a home and home series this past Saturday and Sunday.
Both games were fought hard between both teams. Hard hitting and great goaltending from both sides.
Saturday’s game in Lehigh Valley ended in a 2-1 win for the Phantoms with the game winning goal being scored by Matt Read with 11:17 remaining in the third period.
This game also had the hit from Colby Williams that injured Danick Martel. Williams would get suspended three games, which he will now miss the Outdoor Classic. Martel will also miss this and many more games since he had to have surgery to his jaw. No time table is set for his return.
Sunday’s game returned to Hershey the bad blood between the two teams continued. This time around, the game ended in overtime with a power play goal by Phantom’s T.J. Brennan.
The Hershey Bears are frustrated to only come out with a point in the last two games. You can put money on the Bears coming out strong on Saturday.
This could be a turning point in the season for the Bears, as they need a momentum shift to turn some of these one goal games into their favor. The Outdoor Classic could be that moment.
4) Williams Suspended for hit on Martel.
This past Saturday in Lehigh Valley, Bears defensemen Colby Williams checked Phantoms forward Danick Martel. The initial point of contact was the head, which ended the evening for both players.
Full story with visuals here: Colby Williams Suspended Three Games.
Williams was suspended three games for the hit. The last game of the suspension lands on the Outdoor Classic this Saturday.
Martel had to have surgery on his jaw, which was successful. There is no time table for his return. The loss of Martel will hurt the Phantoms. He has been near the top of the AHL goal scoring all season. Martel has 17 goals on the year and that is only two goals out of the lead at the time of this article.
5) Phantom’s record over the Bears.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have been successful against the Hershey Bears this season. The record going into the Outdoor Classic for the Bears against the Phantoms is 2-4-2.
Bears have only scored 23 goals in 8 games while allowing 30 against and in one of those games the Bears scored 6 goals.
The key for the Outdoor Classic will be the goaltending for Hershey. No matter who gets the start, Copley or Vanecek will have to play their “A” game. The only games the Bears have won against the Phantoms this season is when they held the Phantoms to 2 goals or less.
Will history repeat itself? You will have to wait until Saturday to find out! There are two ways to view this game.
View it in person by purchasing tickets here: Ticketmaster
Watching it online through AHL Live here: AHL Live