Hershey beats Lehigh Valley in preseason opener

(hersheybears.com) — Pheonix Copley turned in a 23-save performance, Joel Broda recorded two points and the Hershey Bears registered a perfect penalty kill to post a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday night, in the Phantoms’ pre-season American Hockey League debut at PPL Center.

After a strong start for the visitors, it would be the hosts cashing in for the first AHL goal at the new barn. With his father Ron in attendance, Brett Hextall chipped a loose puck left by Copley over the netminder from in close, for a 1-0 Phantoms lead at 10:43 of the opening period.

After surviving one penalty kill situation and while working their second, the Bears would tie the game early in the second period. Following a turnover by a Phantoms defenseman behind the home net, Broda knocked down a puck in the middle slot and snapped a hard wrist shot over the left arm of Lehigh Valley netminder Anthony Stolarz at 3:22.

Just past the halfway point of the frame, the Phantoms would turn the puck over in neutral ice. Stanislav Galiev held the puck, dragged between two Phantoms players across the slot and let a snap shot go that found the high net at 11:11 for a 2-1 Hershey lead.

The Bears added to their lead just 2:41 later, connecting on an odd-man rush led by Broda. The forward would carry down the right wing and then slide a pass toward the crease. A cutting Braden Pimm tipped it home at 13:52 for a 3-1 Bears advantage.

The Phantoms were forced to a penalty kill late in the game, stifling any chance at a comeback.

Copley finished with 23 saves on 24 shots to garner first-star honors and improves to 1-0 in pre-season. Stolarz stopped 15 of 18 shots and took the loss.