Chris Bourque showed the league why he was named to the 2015-2016 AHL First All-State Team this weekend with a seven-point showing over three games this weekend. It was the second year in a row and third overall for the left winger.
His performance was one of many that helped the Hershey Bears win two of three games this past weekend, keeping them in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division with one week left on the schedule.
Friday night, the Bears scored on the Power Play, short-handed, and even-strength, dispatching the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 5-1 at Giant Center.
Chandler Stephenson got the scoring started in the first period on the Power Play. Assists went to Aaron Ness and Madison Bowey. Bowey, the rookie defenseman, also assisted on Ness’s Power Play goal less than two minutes later, giving the Bears a 2-0 lead after the first period.
In the second, Garrett Mitchell scored a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0. Erik Burgdoerfer got the assist on Mitchell’s goal.
In the third, rookie Jakub Vrana continued on his torrid scoring pace, netting his 15th of the season with assists to Ness and Chris Bourque. Vrana missed most of the season due to a wrist injury that required surgery.
Later in the third, Liam O’Brien tallied his 6th goal of the year with assists to Mitchell and Zach Sill, who was recalled to Washington and played in Sunday’s game with the Capitals.
Dan Ellis picked up his 25th win of the season, stopping 25 of 26 shots.
Late Friday night, word came that Jonas Siegenthaler, the 18-year-old defenseman who had appeared in games beginning in March, had returned to Switzerland.
Saturday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins knocked off a slow-starting Hershey team at Giant Center 4-3, but the Bears returned the favor Sunday in Wilkes-Barre. The 5-3 victory Sunday put the Bears back in the driver’s seat for the Atlantic Division title.
In Sunday’s game, Hershey’s Chris Bourque netted his 30th goal of the season, and empty net goal with 32 seconds to go in the game. His brother, Ryan Bourque, scored the first goal of the night with Vrana and Travis Boyd getting the assists in the first period.
Mitchell scored his first of two goals on the evening in the second, but the Penguins answered before the period expired to make it 2-1 Hershey after two.
After Wilkes-Barre tied the game midway through the third, Mitchell scored his second of the evening, only to see the Penguins tie the game once again a short while later.
Stephenson scored with less than two minutes to go in the game to put Hershey back in front for the final time before Bourque’s empty-netter.
O’Brien, Carter Camper, and Chris Bourque all scored for Hershey Saturday in the losing effort. Ellis, starting back-to-back nights, took the loss for Hershey, stopping 8 of 12 shots in 23:23 before Justin Peters entered and stopped the remaining 6 shots from Wilkes-Barre.
On the weekend, the Bears were 3 for 15 on the Power Play and were 11 for 13 on the Penalty Kill.
The Bears head to Binghamton Friday night before closing out the regular season at home in Giant Center Saturday against Lehigh Valley and Sunday against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Bears currently are in first place with 92 points. Wilkes-Barre sits in second with 89. Hershey can clinch the Division title by winning two of three remaining games. If they do, the Bears would become the organization’s third team to clinch a division title. South Carolina clinched the South Division this past week and will play Kalamazoo in the first round of the ECHL playoffs.
Weekly Prospect and Two-Way Contract Players Report
Dan Ellis – 1-1 – 33 saves on 38 shots
Justin Peters – 6 saves on 6 shots
*Paul Carey – had season-ending shoulder surgery
Weekly Stars Report (opponent)
1. Ness (Bridgeport), Stephenson (WBS-Sun.)
2. Mitchell (Bridgeport), C. Bourque (WBS-Sun.)
3. Ellis (Bridgeport), C. Bourque (WBS-Sat.)
Bears in the Top 20
Bourque – 1st in points (79), 2nd in goals (30), T-1st in assists (49), T-8th PP Goals (10), T-6th in PP Assists (19), T-11th in Game Winning Goals (5), T-1st First Goals (7), 2nd Insurance Goals (7), T-3rd in OT goals (2), 7th in shots on goal (198)
Boyd – 7th in Rookie scoring (51)
Barber – T-15th in goals (24), T-7th Insurance Goals (4), 5th in Rookie scoring (53)
Bowey – T-11th in +/- (+23)
Walker – T-19th +/- (+20)
Djoos – T-16th SO% (.600)
Ellis – 7th GAA (2.37), 9th in wins (25), T-6th in shutouts (4), T-7th in SOW (2), 9th in minutes (2383)
Peters – T-3rd SOW (3)
Of note – Vrana is tied for T-31st in Rookie scoring with only 33 games played.
Both Burgdoerfer and Gazley are AHL-only contract players.