A few things to take away from this game tonight, a 1-0 Hershey Bears victory over the Utica Comets:
1. Justin Peters is an All-Star in the AHL. Remember that. You might look at stats and think that only 19 saves isn’t that impressive, but here’s how it is: two were by breakaway (one shorthanded), one at the end of the first period was one of those tricky bounce-to-the-side shots through traffic that – last weekend in Portland – ended up in the net, and one had to be on his own teammate.
Peters has two wins in his Hershey career, and both are shutouts. He was the first star tonight.
2. The Bears’ penalty kill is back. Including :48 of five-on-three for Utica at the start of the third period in a scoreless game, Hershey’s kill was increasingly aggressive all night long. Tremendous effort there.
3. Paul Carey is still one of the Bears’ best up front this season. He created the best scoring chance in the first period by making a poke-check steal in the left corner, heading to the net front and getting a backhander on goal. That was Joe Cannata’s best save of the period. Then, he made the game-winning play by winning a puck battle in the slot.
4. Nathan Walker had a great game – no, an AWESOME game – at center. In his first game playing the position, I can remember three huge faceoff wins that may not have come by a clean sweep with his stick, but rather by tying up his opponent with a strength move. Just a tremendous effort that helped out all night.
5. Garrett Mitchell deserved to get that game-winner. Earlier in the period, after a forced turnover down low, Mitchell had about four seconds of free time to wait out Cannata all alone, but there was just no room.
6. Ryan Stanton is okay, after receiving an illegal check to the head from Wacey Hamilton. For the rule-seekers, this is automatically reviewed by the AHL for potential further repercussions. And boy would it have been awful to lose him, after the dogged penalty kill shift he orchestrated in the first period. He was felled by a slap shot that he blocked, and while down, slid his legs out to block a centering pass. A few seconds later, he got his stick on a cross-slot pass attempt to deflect it away.
7. The Utica game atmosphere is second to none, for a building that holds just 3800+. Absolutely amazing. We come back in March… that will be a fun time to play the Comets again.
But now it’s time to come home with a 2-2 record. Let’s rock the GC tomorrow as we begin to Defend the Den.
Below is the official press release, and you can check the box score here.
Thanks for tuning in. See you tomorrow!!
Here is the official release from tonight’s game:
Garrett Mitchell forced a loose puck over the goal line with just 1:11 remaining in regulation and Justin Peters turned aside all 19 shots he faced, sending the Hershey Bears to a 1-0 win over the Utica Comets on Friday night at the Utica Memorial Auditorium.
A scoreless opening period was highlighted by big saves from both goaltenders. Peters denied Alex Biega on a long-range point shot, not long before he turned aside Brendan Gaunce on a breakaway from the blue line. Joe Cannata was up to the task as well in the Utica goal, making a point-blank pad save on Paul Carey inside the final three minutes.
Another period would pass without a goal to be had. Cannata and Peters came up with game-savers again, this time with Peters making the bigger stop on a shorthanded breakaway by Blair Jones.
Both teams gave it their all in the third, and it was Hershey coming out on top. Carey won a puck battle in the slot and dished back to the point, where Connor Carrick fired a shot toward the net. Cannata put his glove down but Mitchell got one jab and slid the puck over the goal line for his first goal of the young season.
The Hershey penalty kill was a perfect four-for-four, which included just under a minute of a two-man disadvantage. Utica killed off all five of the Bears’ opportunities.
Peters improved to 1-1-0 with the win, while Cannata fell to 1-3-0.
NOTES: The Bears scratched D Christian Djoos and RW Caleb Herbert…The Comets scratched LW John Kurtz, D Evan McEneny, LW Mackenze Stewart, D Jordan Subban, C Curtis Valk and C Mike Zalewski…The Bears played in Utica for the first time since March 17, 1993, a 6-2 win against Martin Brodeur and the former Utica Devils…Justin Peters has two wins in his Hershey career, and both are shutouts.