The Hershey Bears Hockey Club returned home last night following a successful, short trip to Lehigh Valley. It was far from a pretty third period, but the Chocolate and White survived with a key 4-3 victory to kick off the weekend.
Hershey returned home with an opportunity to clinch a successful, winning weekend on Saturday night with a duel against the Springfield Falcons. Dan Ellis received the nod in goal, giving Justin Peters a well deserved night off following his outstanding performance in Allentown.
Ellis saw his club grab an early 1-0 lead halfway through the period. With 9:55 to play in the stanza, Riley Barber jammed in his own rebound on the door step for his sixth tally of the season.
Springfield answered on their second power play chance of the night at the 17:46 mark. After three failed chances to clear the defensive zone, Alex Grant wheeled and fired a shot through the five-hole of Ellis to tie the game.
The Bears certainly had the edge in scoring chances in the period, but had to settle with a 1-1 gridlock entering the locker room at first intermission.
4:38 into the second period, the Bears answered with a power play strike of their own, and it came once more at the hands of Barber. The rookie entered the offensive zone on a rush with speed, dangled to the backhand and beat Marek Langhamer a second time.
The Falcons answered a second time to wipe away the one goal deficit. Greg Carey finished a 2-on-1 rush after a centering bid by Craig Cunningham.
Riley Barber was called for a minor late in the frame, and Springfield cashed in to claim their first lead of the night only 1:13 before second intermission. Turnovers in the defensive zone unfortunately changed the complexion of the period and gave the Falcons momentum.
The resiliency theme of the Bears continued, and led to yet another thriller at GIANT Center. The game was tied up with 7:07 left in regulation on the man-advantage, and it came via the AHL leading scorer. Chris Bourque launched a slapper from the left wing to tie the game at 3-3 and eventually force overtime.
3-on-3 solved nothing, and the Bears would seek their first home shootout win of the victory. Five rounds were needed, but Christian Djoos tallied the skills competition game winner in the top half, followed by an Ellis save to seal the victory.
The weekend has been won, now time to aim for a weekend sweep tomorrow!
Submitted by intern Matt Trust