Bears Cruise into Postseason with Decisive Win
HERSHEY, Pa. - The Hershey Bears will head into the postseason as the fourth team in the AHL to post 100 points, as Jakub Vrana's three assists paved the way to a 5-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 10,998 fans at GIANT Center.
Hershey struck first just 2:07 into the game. Jakub Vrana sent a pass to the slot for Jon Landry, the defenseman waited for Anthony Stolarz to commit and lifted a shot from a sharp angle into the net for his third goal of the season.
Tomas Kundratek, in the lineup for the first time since March 14, made it 2-0 late in the frame, taking the puck end-to-end before chipping a shot into the upper left corner at 19:12.
Brett Hextall would get the Phantoms on the board at 1:19 of the second period with a shorthanded goal. Skating down the right wing, he took a shot that dropped in off of the glove of Pheonix Copley.
But the Bears would respond when Chandler Stephenson got open at the net front. Joel Broda picked the pocket of a Phantoms defenseman and sent a quick pass to Stephenson, who tapped it past Stolarz at 7:13.
The game turned chippy late in the second period, and at the end, Phantoms forward Zack Stortini was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that carried into the third. On the ensuing power play, Philippe Cornet would rip a pass from Vrana past Stolarz just 24 seconds into the frame for a 4-1 lead.
Travis Boyd, playing in his first game at GIANT Center, earned the secondary assist on Cornet's goal and later fired a slapper from the slot past Stolarz for his first AHL goal at 11:19. The goal also came on a power play chance. Christian Djoos also earned his first AHL assist on the goal.
The Bears fired a season-high 44 shots on goal at Stolarz and the netminder turned aside 39 of them, but fell to 9-13-4. Copley made 21 saves and finishes his rookie regular season with a mark of 17-4-3.
Hershey ends the 2014-15 regular season with a record of 46-22-5-3 (100 points), the first 100-point season since 2010-11.
The Bears now await their opponent for the 2015 Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The opponent and schedule are both expected to be released sometime on Sunday.
Individual tickets for the first home game of the 2015 Eastern Conference quarterfinals are on sale at the GIANT Center box office or online at HersheyBears.com.
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