What a night.
In front of 18,500 fans, the HERSHEY BEARS came back from a brutal start (a start that “could have easily rattled you”, per head coach Mark French) and defeated the Norfolk Admirals by a 2-1 score in the Washington AHL Showcase at Verizon Center.
Probably the biggest story of the night was the first goal of the season for Ryan Potulny. Jeff Taffe actually (indirectly) predicted that it would happen for “Potsy” that night, when I interviewed him in the media scrum at Kettler following the Thursday morning skate. It’s nice when predictions come true. And it’s even nicer that Taffe helped set up the goal, a classic, patented Potulny one-timer from the bottom of the right circle.
Not only was the goal his first, but it was the game-winner. The BEARS shook off a start in which Brandon McMillan launched a long-range wrist shot over Braden Holtby’s glove just 10 seconds into the contest. Despite it being an official Norfolk home game, you didn’t have to be a genius to figure out who the capacity crowd was for. The groans that rained down after the McMillan tally were not very quiet.
But Evan Barlow’s game-tying goal later in the first period certainly energized the crowd, as did the fact that Holtby turned aside the rest of the 26 shots he faced after that first Admirals strike. After an entertaining but scoreless second period, the stage was set for Potulny’s heroics.
The second biggest story was the power play, which again went “0-fer”. 0/8 on the night, 0/9 on Saturday and two power play goals in the last 40 BEARS opportunities doesn’t cut it. Against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who own the league’s second-best penalty kill, there is no more room for leaving zeros in the PPG column.
Hope you enjoyed the night! Talk to you tomorrow from northeast PA.