Hershey Bears advance to Atlantic Division Finals after defeating Lehigh Valley Phantoms 5-3 in Game 4 – Russian Machine Never Breaks

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The Hershey Bears are moving on to the Atlantic Division Finals. The Bears completed their second-round series win despite trailing two different times in Saturday night’s Game 4 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Hershey was led to the victory by two key goals from rookie winger Ivan Miroshnichenko as well as tallies from Pierrick Dubé and Ethan Frank. Frank got on the board with a power play strike after the Bears went 0-for-5 while up a man in Game Three.

Lehigh Valley kicked the game’s scoring off with a rebound batted out of midair by Rhett Gardner. Hunter Shepard initially made an unbelievable scorpion pad stop on Brendan Furry but the puck popped up and Gardner had an open net to aim for.

Hershey responded directly from the next drop of the puck with defenseman Chase Priskie playing a puck up from his own zone which took a great bounce right to a streaking Miroshnichenko. The young Russian went to his backhand and scored a la Alex Ovechkin on the breakaway.

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The goal was Miroshnichenko’s first career AHL postseason marker.

The Phantoms got the next one after Hunter Shepard whiffed on a muffin wrist shot from Garrett Wilson.

Hershey responded quickly yet again as Dubé rifled home his first career playoff goal past Phantoms goaltender Cal Petersen. Hardy Häman Aktell made a fantastic play to keep the puck alive at the point before moving the puck to Logan Day who found Dubé alone in the high slot.

Miroshnichenko would give the Bears their first lead of the game with a blistering wrister over Petersen’s glove from the left faceoff circle. Dubé earned the lone assist as the two 2023-24 Capitals debutants teamed up for the go-ahead goal.

The two-goal night was Miro’s first in his AHL career.

Frank extended the team’s lead with a top-shelf dart, beating Petersen on the glove side again. The power-play goal was assisted by Joe Snively and Hendrix Lapierre.

Frank scoring his third of the playoffs means he has already eclipsed the amount of goals he scored during last year’s postseason run.

Tanner Laczynski pounced on a Day turnover and got the Phantoms on the board before the end of the second frame.

Miroshnichenko was at it again late in the third as he made a clutch defensive play to get the puck out of the slot, raced up ice, beat a defender to create a two-on-one, set Mike Vecchione up for a glorious chance, poked the puck free from Petersen, and then set the screen for Hardy Häman Aktell’s tally.

Fantastic stuff from the youngster.

Shepard earned the win, making 29 saves in his fourth postseason start of the year. Miroshnichenko, Day, Häman Aktell, and Dubé ended with multi-point nights.

The Hartford Wolf Pack now awaits the victorious Bears. Hartford upset the Providence Bruins on the other side of the Atlantic Division Semifinals with an overtime series clincher on Friday night.

Here are the lines from the win:

Below is the Bears’ press release:

BEARS BEST PHANTOMS 5-3 IN GAME 4, ADVANCE TO DIVISION FINALS

Miroshnichenko scores twice for Hershey, Frank nets power-play goal for game-winner

(Allentown, PA – May 11, 2024) – The Hershey Bears (3-1) advanced to the Atlantic Division Finals with a 5-3 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (3-3) in Game 4 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals on Saturday night at PPL Center. Hershey improved to a lifetime 17-12 against the Phantoms franchise in the postseason, and 5-1 against the Phantoms in all-time playoff series.

BOX SCORE

Lehigh Valley struck first at 9:01 of the first period when Hunter Shepard made an initial scorpion pad save on Brendan Furry but Rhett Gardner batted in the rebound.

Hershey answered quickly on the ensuing shift, as Chase Priskie rimmed the puck up the boards to Ivan Miroshnichenko, who raced in and beat Cal Petersen at 9:18 for his first goal of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Phantoms went ahead 2-1 at the 12:18 mark when Garrett Wilson’s shot from the edge of the zone glanced off of Shepard’s glove and bounced into the net.

The Bears leveled the score at 15:08 as Pierrick Dubé wired a shot from between the circles past Petersen for his first of the playoffs. Logan Day and Hardy Häman Aktell assisted on the tally.

Miroshnichenko struck again early in the second to give Hershey its first lead of the night when he snapped a shot past the glove of Petersen at 2:36. Dubé earned an assist on the goal.

Ethen Frank put Hershey up 4-2 with a power-play goal from the left circle at 10:57 for his third of the playoffs. Joe Snively and Hendrix Lapierre contributed assists.

Tanner Laczynski pulled Lehigh Valley to within a goal of Hershey at 16:17 of the second period.

Häman Aktell gave Hershey some much-needed insurance at 14:52 of the third period after a rush attempt between Miroshnichenko and Mike Vecchione was stonewalled by Petersen, but Day recovered the puck and found Häman Aktell in the slot with his first of the postseason.

With Petersen pulled late, the Bears nearly added an empty-net tally from Vecchione at 18:16, but the goal was called back as a result of a hand pass.

Shots finished 32-27 in favor of the Phantoms. Shepard went 29-for-32 for his third win of the postseason; Petersen went 22-for-27 in the loss for Lehigh Valley. The Bears went 1-for-4 on the power play; the Phantoms went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.

The Bears next take the ice in Game 1 of the best-of-five Atlantic Division Finals against the Hartford Wolf Pack on Thursday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at GIANT Center. Tickets for this game and all Bears home games during the Atlantic Division Finals will go on sale via Ticketmaster starting on Sunday, May 12 at 10 a.m.

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