Bears edge Phantoms in Game 1

Photo: Tori Hartman

Hunter Shepard made 30 saves, 12 of them in the final period, and the Hershey Bears began defense of their 2023 Calder Cup championship with a 2-1 win over Lehigh Valley at Giant Center on Wednesday night.

The Bears will take 1-0 lead into Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Saturday.

Shepard, who won the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the AHL’s postseason MVP last spring, allowed two goals or fewer for the 14th time in his last 15 starts going back to the beginning of February.

Hendrix Lapierre, in the Bears lineup for the first time since Feb. 21 after finishing the season on NHL recall to Washington, scored 3:29 into Game 1, and Henrik Rybinski’s goal with 2:43 left in the second period held up as the game-winner.

Tanner Laczynski scored the only Phantoms goal with 4:32 to play in regulation, his third goal of the postseason and his sixth in his last six games overall.

Cal Petersen (2-1) stopped 26 of 28 shots in the loss.

(Hershey leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – Wed., May 1 – HERSHEY 2, Lehigh Valley 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 4 – Lehigh Valley at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 8 – Hershey at Lehigh Valley, 7:05
*Game 4 – Sat., May 11 – Hershey at Lehigh Valley, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sun., May 12 – Lehigh Valley at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary… All times Eastern