Troy Mann said, “Not very often when you have two good teams going at it on a back to back sweep. It doesn’t happen a ton.”
So as the Bears prepared to host a team for back-to-back contests at Giant Center for the fourth time this season, the coaching staff tried to ensure that the players went hard for the entire 60 minutes both nights. But, just like two of those three previous back-to-back contests, the Bears came away with a win and a loss against the Providence Bruins.
Saturday night, the Bears jumped on Providence early and then held on down the stretch for a 3-2 win.
Connor Carrick sent a stretch pass up the left side of ice to Sean Collins, who skated in alone for the first goal of the game at 12:22 in the first.
Riley Barber added a Power Play goal early in the second period when Providence was called for a delay of game penalty. Chris Bourque passed the puck to Scott Gomez who skated backwards below the goal line and found Barber open in the middle of the zone for the 2-0 lead.
Dan Ellis, who had been called on early in the game to come up with some huge saves, allowed a Providence goal with 27 seconds to go in the second period, but Nathan Walker got the insurance goal at 4:55 in the third.
Barber skated into the zone on the right side and passed the puck to Walker, who skated in behind Gomez.
After pulling their goalie, the Bruins tallied the game’s last goal with 57 seconds to go, but they were unable to come up with an equalizer and the Bears celebrated a 3-2 victory at center ice.
Sunday’s game saw the Bruins score the first goal on the Power Play midway through the first period and then score three straight third-period goals for the 6-3 victory.
Almost four minutes later, Liam O’Brien netted his fourth of the season to tie the game at 1-1. Garrett Mitchell took a pass from Mike Moore below the goal line and sent it directly to O’Brien in front of the net for the score.
Minutes later, Sean Collins skated into the zone on the left-side, passed the puck to Dustin Gazley near the offensive faceoff circle, and Gazley passed the puck to Travis Boyd, who was all alone on the backside of the play.
Providence would tie the game at 2-2 before the period ended and add the only goal of the second period, taking a 3-2 lead into the final frame. But a Hershey goal that was disallowed on a questionable call seemed to be the game changer in Mann’s eyes.
“Banfield (referee David) thought it was in the goalie’s glove, and so it actually should have been a goal because there never was possession.” said Mann. “It could have made it 3-2 there, so that was a little bit of a game changer.”
In the third, Ryan Stanton drilled a near-zero angle shot from the boards into the net to tie the game at 3-3, but Providence tallied the final three goals of the game, with one on a Power Play and the other an Empty Net goal to end Hershey’s potential comeback bid.
Hershey’s Power Play was 1-for-10 against the League’s 4th best PK and was 5-for-7 against the League’s best Power Play unit.
The Bears take on Wilkes-Barre tonight on the road and travel to Toronto Friday before returning to Giant Center Sunday to face the Utica Comets.
Weekly Prospect and Two-Way Contract Players Report
Tyler Lewington returned to the Bears on Tuesday, February 23rd.
Dan Ellis – 1-0 – 24 saves on 26 shots
Justin Peters – 0-1 – 27 saves on 32 shots
Tyler Lewington – Week-to-week
Paul Carey – had season-ending shoulder surgery
Chandler Stephenson – upper body injury (Feb. 21)
doubtful for Tuesday @ Wilkes-Barre
Weekly Stars Report (opponent)
1. Barber (Sat.)
2. Walker (Sat.)
3. Ellis (Sat.), O’Brien (Sun.)
Bears in the Top 20
Bourque – 1st in points (57), 6th in goals (22),
2nd in assists (35), 5th in PP Assists (16), T-11th PP Goals (8), T-1st Insurance Goals (5), T-2nd in OT goals (2), T-4th in shots (144)
Carrick – T-15th in +/- (+17)
Bowey – T-20th in +/- (+15)
Boyd – 7th in Rookie scoring (38 points)
Barber – T-19th in points (39), T-5th in Rookie scoring (39 points)
Ellis – 14th GAA (2.53), T-9th in wins (17), T-6th in shutouts (3), 13th in minutes (1635)
Peters – 18th in minutes (1591), 16th in Shootouts
Both Burgdoerfer and Gazley are AHL-only contract players.
Scott Gomez was signed to a PTO on January 15
By Julie Beidler