The Hershey Bears once again endured a brutal week that saw them collect two of a possible six points and fall to 1-7 on the year in overtime games with losses Saturday and Sunday in OT at Giant Center. They also lost Friday night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
In hostile territory at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, the Bears got dominated by the Penguins who opened the game with five straight goals. Vitek Vanecek suffered the loss after giving up the first three goals. Joe Cannata fared little better, giving up the Penguins’ final two goals.
Darren Dietz provided Hershey’s only goal midway through the third period as the Bears fell to the AHL’s best team by a score of 5-1.
Hershey looked to rebound Saturday when the Utica Comets, the last place team in the North Division, came to town.
Paul Carey put the Bears on top just 5:49 into the game with assists going to Stan Galiev and Hubert Labrie. Galiev’s initial shot was stopped by Thatcher Demko, but the rebound was loose and Carey spun around and buried it in the back of the net.
But Utica tied the game later in the first period when Wacey Hamilton beat Cannata five-hole. But the game would not be tied long.
Chandler Stephenson scored his sixth goal of the season when he picked up the puck in the neutral zone and raced in alone with a five-hole goal of his own.
After a scoreless second period, Utica got the game-tying goal just 42 seconds into the third period. Alexandre Gernier’s shot trickled into the net past Cannata in a goal that Troy Mann said his goalie needed to stop.
In the overtime, Hershey fell quickly as the Comets scored just 21 seconds into the extra time. Curtis Valk scored the game-winner to drop Hershey to 1-6 in overtimes this season.
As bad as 1-6 sounds, it got even worse Sunday night as the Bears fell once again in overtime, this time to the Penguins.
After a hot start that saw Galiev and Zach Sanford each score in the first, the Penguins battled back to tie the game. Both goals came in the second period for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Galiev then scored his second of the night after Nathan Walker skated down the left side and passed to Galiev on the right for the go-ahead goal.
The Penguins wasted little time tying the game as Derrick Pouliot got his first goal of the season just over a minute later. Christian Thomas recorded his team-best 16th goal of the season on the power play, but the Penguins tied the game just 68 seconds later and got the go-ahead goal for their first lead with back-to-back power play goals.
With Vanecek on the bench for the extra attacker and time slipping away, Sanford took a pass from Travis Boyd and tied the game. But it wasn’t enough as the Bears once again fell in the overtime period.
After the game, Mann voiced some concern with his team’s record in overtimes, especially with their current position in the standings (fourth) and their schedule, which is road-heavy in the coming weeks.
While overall pleased with his team’s response to their showing Friday night in Wilkes-Barre, “We’re definitely going to work on the three-on-three in practice,” he quipped Sunday after Hershey’s second consecutive overtime loss, adding “We’ll take the point and move on.”
Chris Bourque, who has hit many milestones this year surpassed one more Sunday night. The winger, with an assist on Sanford’s first goal of the evening, recorded his 400th AHL assist.
Hershey’s powerplay was 2 for 15 with both goals coming Sunday. The penalty kill was 11 for 13, giving up both goals Sunday to the Penguins.
Jakub Vrana was interviewed by Jim Jones during intermission. Jones asked Vrana about his friend and teammate, Vitek Vanecek, his first goal in Washington, and then asked what Vrana thought about being on the Labatt’s pint glass that was given away Sunday.
Hershey travels to Lehigh Valley Friday night before returning to Giant Center to host Lehigh Valley Saturday at 7:00 and Binghamton Sunday at 5:00.
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Joe Cannata 0-0-1 (OTL) – 37 saves on 42 shots (relieved Vanecek Jan. 6 at WBS)
Vitek Vanecek 0-1-1 (OTL) – 39 saves on 48 shots
THREE STARS (opponent)
- Sanford (WBS – Sunday)
- Stephenson (Utica), Galiev (WBS – Sunday)
*** NEW – NOVA CAPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK ***
Stan Galiev – in two games, the Washington prospect showed once again that he can dominate in the AHL recording two goals and an assist. After being a healthy scratch Friday night in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Galiev assisted on Paul Carey’s goal to open the game against Utica on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the winger Scored twice against Penguin goalie Casey DeSmith. He got the game-opening goal less than three minutes into the game and scored early in the third period to put Hershey back in front for the time being.
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
DEL – Domenic Monardo – Returned on loan to South Carolina – Jan. 5
DEL – Colton Saucerman – Released from PTO – Jan. 6
DEL – Liam O’Brien – Recalled from loan by Washington – Jan. 6
By Julie Beidler