On Tuesday night, in a rare early-week road game, Kundratek scored twice – including a highlight-reel end-to-end rush in the final 30 seconds of overtime – to pace the BEARS to a 4-3 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
The night had many other important moments, including the 1,000th professional game for captain Boyd Kane. In a really nice, classy move, the Sound Tigers honored Kane’s milestone during a promotional timeout. Kane was featured on the newly-constructed giant screen over Webster Bank Arena’s center ice. Kane spoke with me about his first-ever professional game, a 9-5 loss by his Charlotte Checkers at Gwinnett in 1998. He was a minus-5 in the game. Kane had a strong game up front for the BEARS, including a good night on the penalty kill.
But it turned out to be Kundratek’s night. With the score tied 1-1 thanks to a Ryan Stoa tally, it took 45 more seconds for the BEARS to grab their first lead of the night. Taking a face off win from Ryan Potulny, Kundratek ripped a spinning puck inside the left post and behind Kevin Poulin. The goal held up until Colin McDonald tipped home a loose puck to the right of Dany Sabourin’s goal crease with 2:57 left in the first period.
The BEARS then had to climb out of a 3-2 deficit in the third, and it was Evan Barlow’s backhander upstairs that did the honors.
That would set the stage for an overtime dominated by Bridgeport in the first half. But with time winding down in the extra session, Kundratek began his heroics with a chip out of the BEARS defensive zone. He chased the puck out to neutral ice and just barely beat Sound Tigers defenseman Jon Landry to it. Kundratek then poked the puck around Landry, and raced after it as it slid toward the middle of the Sound Tigers zone. He caught up to it, deked Poulin and slid a backhander inside the left post, sending the BEARS bench off in celebration.
Kundratek now needs just one more goal to match his career best in a season.
I haven’t seen a BEARS player score a goal like that on an individual effort in quite some time. Once the highlights are posted I will find them and share it here. Sabourin was that good, too, with 35 saves on the night.
In the meantime, the BEARS have now won seven straight road games, and only need two more road wins to match the AHL’s season-long road winning streak of nine, set by Syracuse. The team also snapped a three-game losing skid in the process. Yes, we all hope that the BEARS will win at home this weekend and pull off some more needed points – but this one needs to be savored for a while before the team gets back to the grind at practice Thursday.
Game recap is here.