Riley Barber gave the Bears some life with a late second-period goal, but Hartford had other ideas about letting the Bears draw closer in the third period. Three goals would be more than enough, and the Wolf Pack went on to a 5-1 win.
Pass-blocking, for me, was Hartford’s forte tonight. I have never seen a team do so well laying sticks down in just the right spots, or angling skate blades at just the right position, to frustrate breakouts and interrupt puck possession.
There’s not much more to say other than it’s time to quickly regroup and get back to the Bears’ game for a crucial set of games in Providence tomorrow and Sunday.
The recap is below, and the box score is available here.
Thank you for listening!
HARTFORD, Conn. – Riley Barber gave the Hershey Bears some momentum with a late second-period goal, but the Hartford Wolf Pack scored three in the third period and pulled away for a 5-1 win on Friday night at the XL Center.
Moments after Dan Ellis denied Nicklas Jensen on a breakaway, the Wolf Pack got the jump while the teams skated four-on-four. With exactly six minutes left in the opening 20, defenseman Brady Skjei flew down the left wing, used a driving forward as a decoy and snuck a shot inside the left post behind Ellis for a 1-0 Hartford lead.
Former Bears forward Chris Brown gave the Wolf Pack a 2-0 edge in the second period, when he collected a long pass from Daniel Paille, skated in and beat Ellis with a snap shot at 12:11.
But the Bears got a huge momentum boost inside the final minute of the middle frame. Barber headed down the slot, collected a pass from Chris Bourque and chipped the puck under the arm of Magnus Hellberg at 19:06 for his 24th goal of the season.
The Bears would get into penalty trouble in the third, however, and Hartford pounced on a five-on-three opportunity. Marek Hrivik took a slap shot from the left side that sailed into the net at 6:37, giving the Wolf Pack a 3-1 lead.
Erik Burgdoerfer would later drop down to make a nice block on a shot and a rebound chance by Luke Adam. But the puck would slide away right to Jensen, who lifted a shot home at 10:21 for a 4-1 lead.
Brian Gibbons capped off the scoring by getting his stick down at the top of the crease and deflecting a behind-the-net centering pass from Tyler Brown into the net at 14:12.
Ellis made 27 saves and fell to 24-10-4 on the season. Hellberg improved to 28-18-3 with 18 saves on 19 shots. The Bears finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
The Bears travel from one state capital to another and take on the Providence Bruins in a pair of games this weekend. The puck drops from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center tomorrow, April 2 at 7:05 PM. Fans may catch the broadcast beginning at 6:35 PM on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WTKT-AM 1460, via the iHeartRadio App (Fox Sports 1460 Harrisburg) or online at FoxSports1460.com. Fans may watch the game live for a small fee at AHLLive.com.
Hershey returns home to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Friday, April 8 at 7:00 PM. The first 3,000 fans will receive a logo golf ball courtesy of Fairview Golf Course. Individual tickets are available at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.
NOTES: The Bears’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth remains at five points…Chris Bourque picked up his league-leading 73rd point, tying his second-best single-season point total (2008-09, Hershey)…The Bears scratched C Carter Camper, LW Paul Carey, G Adam Carlson, LW Kevin Elgestal and D Tyler Lewington…The Wolf Pack scratched D Kodie Curran, G Cedrick Desjardins, D Raphael Diaz, LW Matt Lindblad, LW Chris McCarthy, RW Shawn O’Donnell, C Travis Oleksuk and LW Nick Tarnasky.