The depleted Hershey Bears managed to snag 5 out of a possible 6 points this past weekend. With the recalls of Aaron Ness, Ryan Stanton, and Paul Carey (both Stanton and Carey have now returned to Hershey), the Bears signed former St. Louis centerman Scott Gomez to a PTO on January 15. Better known for his stint in New Jersey from 1999-2007, the Alaskan played in his first AHL games ever against the Springfield Falcons at Giant Center January 17 and 18.
Gomez was not in the lineup on Friday night at Lehigh Valley, but Justin Peters turned in the performance of a lifetime in goal for the Bears, stopping 42 of 45 shots including a team-record 27 in the third period that preserved Hershey’s 4-3 won over their in-state Atlantic Division rivals.
Defenseman Tyler Lewington stole first star honors from his teammate Peters though with a goal and an assist. Dustin Gazley, Chris Bourque, and Liam O’Brien also scored goals in the win for Hershey. Connor Carrick, who was +2 on the night, earned third star honors. He currently leads the team with a +12 rating.
Troy Mann praised Carrick’s games this weekend and season to date. “He’s becoming a more two-way defenseman. He’s up to +13 going into tonight’s game, which is excellent,” Mann said while noting that Carrick finished last season as -12.
Saturday night, the team returned to Giant Center where it was Dan Ellis who turned in a stellar performance in goal for the Bears. Ellis stopped 33 of 36 shots and went 4 for 5 in the shootout as the Bears edged the Falcons 4-3.
Riley Barber was the multi-point scorer and first star for the Bears with two goals and an assist. The first goal came at the midway point of the first period to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. His second goal, which came on the Power Play, gave the Bears a 2-1 lead, while his assist came late in the game on the Power Play. Bourque scored his 18th of the season and sent the game into overtime.
In the shoutout, Carrick scored in the fourth round and Jeffrey did so for the Falcons. In the fifth round, Christian Djoos scored and Ellis stopped Monardo for the win.
With two big wins under their belts, the Bears skated onto the ice Sunday in a rematch with the Falcons on Star Wars Night in Hershey. Unfortunately with injuries to Tyler Lewington, Carter Camper, and Chandler Stephenson, the Bears were not able to overcome the Dark Side, losing 3-2 in overtime.
Gazley and Travis Boyd scored goals for the Bears and Peters stopped 22 of 25 shots that came his way, but with seven minutes remaining in regulation, Garrett Mitchell and Springfield’s Mermis each got tagged for roughing and a misconduct. The already short-handed Bears played the rest of the way without their captain as Springfield scored 41 seconds into overtime.
“We’re undefeated in four (the last four games). It would have been nice to get that extra point today,” Mann said. “We won the week…you have to win as many weeks as you can.”
The Hershey Power Play was 2 for 10 on the weekend, with both goals coming in Saturday’s game against Springfield. Mann expects the addition of Gomez to help.
“I thought Gomez looked a little tired tonight; obviously he hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the past six weeks,” Mann said noting that the center would get three practices with the team this week. “He’s run an NHL Power Play, so hopefully he can help in that area,” he continued.
Hershey is still awaiting the return of Jakub Vrana who Mann said has been cleared. The decision of when to return to the line-up is currently in Vrana’s hands. Mann said, “If he’s not comfortable then we’re not going to push it because he’s just way too important to the team.” But Vrana could see two games this weekend if he is ready.
The Bears travel to Binghamton Friday before returning to Giant Center for Lehigh Valley on Saturday and Bridgeport on Sunday. The Bears have the third highest 3-in-3s in the league according to Mann.
Weekly Prospect and Two-Way Contract Players Report
- Sill and Stanton were returned to Hershey January 18
Dan Ellis – 1-0 (SOW) – 33 saves on 36 shots
Justin Peters – 1-1 (OTL) – 64 saves on 70 shots
Jakub Vrana – Out for 3 months from Wrist surgery (Nov. 2)
Chandler Stephenson – upper-body injury (Jan. 2)
Carter Camper – day-to-day
Tyler Lewington – upper-body injury (day-to-day)
Weekly Stars Report (opponent)
1. Lewington (LV), Barber (Springfield-Sat.)
2. Peters (LV), Bourque (Springfield-Sat.)
3. Carrick (LV), Ellis (Springfield-Sat.), Boyd (Springfield-Sun.)
Both Burgdoerfer and Gazley are AHL-only contract players.
Scott Gomez was signed to a PTO on January 15
By Julie Beidler