Riding high in Chocolate Town. It has certainly been a productive past few weeks in the standings for the Hershey Bears, who enter Saturday’s match up against Lehigh Valley on a 10 game point streak. The Bears are 7-0-2-1 in their last 10, back to second place in the Atlantic Division, and are fresh off an impressive 6-2 blowout over Binghamton the previous night.
Hershey quickly set their sights on the Phantoms to clinch the weekend with a hopeful victory on home ice. Zach Sill had his stick slashed out of his hands 3:43 in, leading to a Bears power play. Chris Bourque pump faked a shot from the center point, quickly fed Travis Boyd on the wing, and Boyd would not miss.
Boyd beat Jason LaBarbera to the top-shelf for his 11th tally of the season at 4:10. Bourque doubled Hershey’s lead with 8:44 remaining in the opening frame. He rushed down the wing and buried a snapshot high past LaBarbera.
Into the second period, Boyd grabbed his second power play goal of the night at 9:18. Jakub Vrana slipped a pass across to Boyd, and a sprawling LaBarbera could not deny the University of Minnesota product.
Jakub Vrana added his third point of the night, and it was a dazzling goal to open the game to 4-0. On an offensive rush, Vrana released a snapshot as quick as lightning, completely fooling LaBarbera on his glove side.
Lehigh Valley got on the board with 3:51 to play before second intermission thanks to Aaron Palushaj. He turned on his jets, put a move on Justin Peters, and buried a shot from in close to cut the Phantoms’ deficit to three.
My pal Scott Stuccio may have to do some research on the last time the Hershey Bears scored back-to-back hat tricks on home ice. Hershey responded shortly after on a pretty deflection by Travis Boyd to complete the hat trick. Chandler Stephenson blasted a shot from center point, Boyd had the perfect redirection.
Even more impressive, both hat tricks were notched by rookies. It was Riley Barber on January 30th against Syracuse, and now Boyd tonight. Make it nine, second period goals by the Bears in the last two nights, as they carry a 5-1 advantage into the locker room.
Third period featured no scoring, and a 5-1 Hershey final over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Make it an 11 game point streak and an 8-0-2-1 record over the stretch.
For months, I’ve felt the Chocolate and White were a solid power play away from heavily competing on a nightly basis. Two more power play goals tonight, and it’s the difference between the “worst lead in hockey” at two goals, and a comfy four goal lead.
The point steak is also a tribute to depth scoring. Hershey has recently showed the ability to role four offensive lines, all with high scoring capabilities. Defensive play has also been remarkable of late. We are seeing the D-Men clog the middle lane of the ice, avoiding Grade “A” scoring chances against.
See you tomorrow!
Submitted by intern Matt Trust