Hershey endured two feet of snow, an overtime loss, and a shootout loss this past week, but amidst the loss and schedule changes forced by Jonas came the news that Bears and Caps fans alike were awaiting – Jakub Vrana returned to the line-up.
The left-winger was on the ice for Friday’s 4-0 shut-out win in Binghamton. Also Thursday came the news that Zach Stanton was returned, putting the Bears closer to full strength than they have been almost all season. Although he did not score in Friday’s game, Vrana tallied four shots and registered three in both the loss to Lehigh Valley Monday and Wednesday’s overtime loss to Albany, and brought energy to the lineup
The Monday game was Hershey’s first Monday game since December of 2007, which ironically enough was against the then-Philadelphia Phantoms. Hershey won 2-1. The latest Monday encounter between the teams did not turn out quite as well for the Bears, who dropped a 6-5 shootout loss to their in-state rivals in a game originally scheduled for Saturday.
Monday’s game could have been the wildest game of the year for the Bears who trailed 1-0 until Mike Moore started a scoring onslaught early in the second period. His goal was followed by a goal by Madison Bowey and another by Paul Carey in a span of three minutes. But that 3-1 lead didn’t last long as the Phantoms went on a 3-goal spree of their own to end the second period.
Hershey found themselves down 5-3 early in the third period, but true to form, the Bears battled back to tie the game with goals from Travis Boyd and Chris Bourque, who scored his 20th goal of the season on the Power Play. Before Bourque’s game-tying goal, the Bears had been a miserable 1 for 7 on the Power Play. They finished the weekend 1 for 12 after going 0 for 4 on Friday.
In Binghamton on Friday before the storm, Dan Ellis proved to be a brick wall in front of the goal, stopping all 30 shots including a penalty shot by Ryan Penny. Moore scored the first goal of the night in the first period while Bourque, Scott Gomez, and Boyd all tallied goals in the second for the win. Gomez’s goal was the first of his AHL career as the center made his AHL debut earlier this month for Hershey having played in the NHL and ECHL before.
After securing the win, the Bears ventured out into the Blizzard of 2016, departing Binghamton after 9:30 PM and arriving home in the early morning hours of January 23. On the way home, the team heard the news that their Saturday game was postponed.
Making the return trip to New York was not nearly as harrowing Wednesday when the Bears visited Albany, but they once again found themselves in the extra session as Albany tied the game with 76 seconds to go.
Erik Burgdoerfer’s goal at 14:39 in the second period tied the game at 1. He then had an assist on Riley Barber’s go-ahead goal at 15:27 in the third, but the Bears were unable to hold the lead down the final minutes as Albany pulled Danis for the extra attacker.In overtime, Albany registered the only shot, the game-winner that slipped past Justin Peters.
As with their previous two games of the week, the Bears were unable to get the Power Play going. They were scoreless in three attempts on the night bringing the week’s totals to 1 for 15. The Penalty Kill was 3 for 10 with two goals by Lehigh Valley and one from Albany.
Chris Brown, Caleb Herbert, Dustin Gazley, and Joey Leach were all listed as healthy scratches for all three games. Prior to the Binghamton game, Bears Media Relations Manager and Broadcaster, Scott Stuccio tweeted, “Bears scratches, by the way, NOTHING to do with their play. All have done tremendous work. It’s a numbers thing now.”
With the same healthy and injury scratches, line pairings remained the same through the three game stretch. Where Troy Mann had to be creative with the lineup in previous games this year, he now finds himself with a very different dilemma – telling players they will be scratched for a game, or perhaps a week’s worth of games.
The Bears are at Syracuse Friday and host Syracuse Saturday at Giant Center. The reschedule date for the snowed out Bridgeport game is Wednesday, February 10. Bourque and Carrick are heading to the All-Star Classic in Syracuse January 31 and February 1.
Weekly Prospect and Two-Way Contract Players Report
Dan Ellis – 1-1 (Shutout, OTL) – 54 saves on 54 shots
Justin Peters – 0-1 (OTL) -26 saves on 31 shots
Chandler Stephenson – upper-body injury (Jan. 2)
Tyler Lewington – upper-body injury (week-to-week)
Weekly Stars Report (opponent)
1. Ellis (Bingo)
2. Bourque (Bingo), Gomez (LV)
3. Carey (Bingo), Bowey (LV), Burgdoerfer (Albany)
Both Burgdoerfer and Gazley are AHL-only contract players.
Scott Gomez was signed to a PTO on January 15
By Julie Beidler