The Hershey Bears rounded out 2016 with four games between Monday and Saturday, securing five of a possible eight points. Hershey’s Christian Thomas contributed six-points while Chandler Stephenson (5), Liam O’Brien (4), and Chris Bourque (4) also added multiple points on the week.
The Bears returned to Hershey Monday morning for a skate before heading out to Lehigh Valley where they defeated their Atlantic Division and in-state rival 5-2.
After falling behind in the first period, the Bears scored three straight goals to open the second period. Bourque, Travis Boyd, and Paul Carey each scored to give the Bears the 3-1 lead before the Phantoms tacked on their final goal.
Bourque’s eighth goal of the season put him at 499 points in a Hershey uniform – he would get 500 on an assist in Wednesday night’s game.
53 seconds after Bourque’s goal, which was assisted by Stephenson and Garrett Mitchell, Travis Boyd scored his 10th goal of the season with a one-timer on the power play. Christian Djoos and O’Brien recorded the assists.
Then Carey extended his point-scoring streak to 19, which is tied for third in Hershey’s record books. He deflected Aaron Ness’s shot into the net. Stephenson notched his second assist on the play.
In the third, Hershey got two insurance goals. Christian Thomas scored his 13th of the season when he deflected Ryan Bourque’s shot into the goal. Zach Sill notched the game’s final goal at 14:02 to give Hershey the victory.
Vitek Vanecek, the game’s number 3 star, stopped 23 of 25 shots. Carey was the second star. In a strange move, Lehigh Valley’s Andy Miele was named the game’s first star despite the 5-2 loss and only recording one point.
After the game ended, Lehigh Valley’s Will O’Neill was assessed a match penalty for punching Hershey’s Darren Dietz, breaking the defenseman’s nose. Dietz missed the game in Syracuse, but returned to the ice Friday night with a full face shield as the Bears lost Madison Bowey Wednesday night in Syracuse.
In a freak accident, Bowey suffered a cut to an ankle tendon. Per Hershey staff, Bowey had surgery in Syracuse and is now on crutches. He is not expected to play until April.
The loss of Bowey and Dietz did not deter the Bears in Syracuse as they went into overtime before the Crunch scored the game-winning goal to hand the Bears a 3-2 loss.
Syracuse notched two shorthanded goals to start the game. Those goals came within 26 seconds of each other, but Hershey battled back. Mitchell deflected Tyler Lewington’s shot past Adam Wilcox late in the first period.
Then, Thomas scored his 14th goal of the season on the power play with Bourque picking up an assist for his 500th point with Hershey, but it wasn’t enough as the Crunch got the game-winner 3:01 into overtime.
Vanecek stopped 25 of 28 shots and once again earned third star honors.
Hershey then returned to Giant Center Friday night to host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After a slow start, the Bears scored four powerplay goals en route to the 6-2 victory.
Stephenson scored 70 seconds into the game, but the Sound Tigers scored back to back goals to take a 2-1 lead before Hershey scored five unanswered goals through the final two periods.
O’Brien scored a pair of power play goals, while teammates Galiev and Thomas also scored on the man-advantage. Brad Malone tacked on an even strength goal in the middle of the scoring onslaught for the Hershey victory.
O’Brien, who also assisted on Stephenson’s goal, was named the game’s first star for his three-point performance. Stephenson (1G, 1A) and Galiev (1G, 1A) were also honored for their performances.
Late in the game though, Hershey’s defense suffered another blow as a puck hit Christian Djoos in the mouth. The defenseman immediately rushed off the ice and down the tunnel. It was later disclosed that he had three teeth knocked out. With the additional injury leaving the Bears with just five healthy defensemen, Hershey placed a call to South Carolina and signed Colton Saucerman to a PTO.
Saucerman, a 24-year old from Colorado Springs, made his AHL debut against the AHL’s hottest team, the Providence Bruins in a New Year’s Eve match-up. But the spotlight belonged to Malcolm Subban as the goalie came up huge in net for Providence as the Bruins emerged with a 4-1 victory.
Zach Sanford scored Hershey’s only goal of the evening as the Bruins jumped ahead of Hershey in the Atlantic Division standings. Hershey finished 2016 in fourth place with some work to do in 2017.
Hershey’s powerplay was 7 for 24 while the penalty kill was an astonishing 20 for 22.
Hershey travels to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday night before returning to Giant Center to host Utica Saturday at 7:00 and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Sunday at 5:00.
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Joe Cannata 1-0 – 19 saves on 21 shots
Vitek Vanecek 1-1-1 (OTL) – 74 saves on 83 shots
THREE STARS (opponent)
- O’Brien (Bridgeport)
- Carey (LV), Stephenson (Bridgeport)
- Vanecek, (LV), Vanecek (Syracuse), Galiev (Bridgeport), Sanford (Providence)
Dustin Gazley (lower body) – projected out until mid-February
Riley Barber (upper body) – projected out until mid-January
Madison Bowey (lower body) – out indefinitely – projected April return
Christian Djoos (upper body) – day-to-day
Joey Leach (upper body) – week-to-week
Ryan Bourque (lower body) – day-to-day
ADD – Zach Sanford – Loaned from Washington – Dec. 23
DEL – Zach Sanford – Recalled from loan by Washington – Dec. 27
DEL – Tim McGauley – Reassigned by Washington to South Carolina – Dec. 27
ADD – Zach Sanford – Returned on loan from Washington – Dec. 28
ADD – Colton Saucerman – Signed to PTO by Hershey – Dec. 31
ADD – Jakub Vrana – Returned on loan from Washington – Jan 1
By Julie Beidler