The Phantoms finished up their only game of the weekend and last before the holiday break as they defeated the Hershey Bears for the first time on home ice this season, 5-2. They remain at the top of the East division with their record now standing at 20-8-1.
Just nine minutes into the first period, Hershey forward Louis Robitaille put the Bears on the board first by firing the puck past Phantoms goalie Brian Boucher to make the score 1-0.
Two minutes later, Phantoms captain Boyd Kane scored against his former team to put the Phantoms up on the board to tie it up at 1-1. With the Phantoms shuffling the lines throughout the game, forwards Jared Ross and Darren Reid were granted the assists on the goal.
“It looked pretty good tonight,” Kane said of the line shuffles. “Most of the guys know each other really well and it doesn’t matter who we put together, it just seems to click.”
Four minutes into the second period, Phantoms forward Jonathan Matsumoto put the puck past Bears goalie Frederic Cassivi to score his 10th of the season, putting the Phantoms up 2-1.
After Bears defenseman Sasha Pokoluk took a slashing penalty halfway through the second, forward Stefan Ruzicka capitalized on the power play opportunity and put the Phantoms up 3-1. Overall, the Phantoms were 2-4 on the power play.
Fueling off the energy of the man advantage, Boyd Kane lit the lamp once again for his second of the night just a few seconds later with a even strength goal.
Late in the second, the gloves came off where the two Potulny brothers--Ryan Potulny for the Phantoms and Grant Potulny for the Bears-- were involved in a scuffle behind Boucher’s net. Steve Downie, who was also involved in the fight, was issued a two minute minor for roughing and a game misconduct.
“Obviously off the ice you’re friends and family, but on the ice anything goes,” said the younger Potulny brother Ryan. “Luckily, it didn’t just have to be me and him.”
Six minutes into the third, Center Jason Morgan scored his fifth of the year for the Bears drawing them two goals closer to a potential tie with the Phantoms by making the score 4-2.
However, Stefan Ruzicka once again capitalized on the man advantage, putting the Phantoms up 5-2 a few minutes later after yet another scrum between the division rivals ensued and former Flyers defensemen Chris McAllister was penalized for elbowing. Ruzicka’s goal was also his second of the night.
With the offensive surge the Phantoms have displayed in the game, head coach Craig Berube thinks that is good motivation to keep the team’s energy high throughout the holiday break and with the brief road trip coming up.
“You have to score goals,” Berube said. “It’s tough to win games 2-1 or 1-0 a lot. There’s just a lot of pressure in hockey games.”
With tonight’s result, the Phantoms now have a 3-1-0 record against the Bears this season and will face their division rivals eight more times this season. It was also the Phantoms’ third straight win against Hershey.
“This [win] was big for us,” Potulny said. “They try to catch up to us in the standings and we played them enough where, if you can beat a team head-to-head, that’s going to help you out at the end of the year points wise.”
The Phantoms will take a short break for the holidays before hitting the road to face-off against the Norfolk Admirals on Thursday, December 27 at 7:15.