The Hershey Bears welcomed a crowd of 13,091 to Hersheypark Stadium on Saturday night, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms spoiled the party, winning the 2018 Capital BlueCross Outdoor Classic, 5-2.
Lehigh Valley goaltender Alex Lyon stole the show, stopping 41 Hershey shots.
The game was the 10th outdoor game in AHL history, and the second in Hershey. Five years ago — on Jan. 20, 2013 — the Bears hosted Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Hersheypark Stadium, falling 2-1 in overtime.
Lehigh Valley was off and running with two early goals within the game’s first 8:28. Colin McDonald open the scoring for the Phantoms at 2:59 after an Oskar Lindblom shot bounced to the right post. McDonald was at the right place at the right time, and found the puck with an open net before it was tracked by Bears’ netminder Pheonix Copley.
Copley’s misfortunes continued on Lehigh Valley’s second marker. At 8:29, a shot by Alex Krushelnyski was stopped by the goaltender’s blocker. After the save, the puck popped into the air behind Copley and across the goal line. Hershey trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes despite a 12-8 shot advantage.
Lyon continued to make key stops in the second period, until Hershey finally broke through at 16:54. Nathan Walker scored his first goal of the season after firing in a rebound following a Travis Boyd shot from the left wing boards.
Momentum shifted to the Bears’ side in the frame, but as Hershey inched closer, Lehigh Valley struck last. Following a defensive zone turnover, Chris Conner broke alone to the net and sneaked a low shot past Copley. The goal came at the 19:53 mark.
Hershey pulled Copley for the extra attacker in the third period, and the Bears pulled within one with 2:56 to play. Travis Boyd scored his ninth goal of the season from the slot, beating Lyon low to make it 3-2. Walker and Chris Bourque, who was playing his 700th AHL game, assisted.
The Bears came close to tying the score, but the Phantoms hit two empty nets to seal the win. T.J. Brennan struck at 18:21, and Conner tallied his second goal at 19:22.
Hershey fired a season-high 43 shots, while Lehigh Valley posted 31 shots on net. Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play.