Riley Barber returned to the ice at Giant Center and almost scored early in the first period. After a stoppage, the play was reviewed, but it was determined that the puck did not cross the goal line – that was not a popular call at Giant Center, but the correct call nonetheless. He did get an empty net goal late in the third period as the Bears downed Hartford, 4-2.
It was perhaps the energy that Barber brought to the ice during his shifts that stood out as the winger missed 35 games with an upper body injury. Barber certainly looked to be making up for lost time by unleashing checks on just about anyone in a Hartford uniform.
It was Barber’s line mate, Travis Boyd, who got the Bears on the board 7:57 into the first when a Brandon Halverson clearing attempt went right to Boyd. He wasted little time putting it into the net with Halverson not able to get into position to try and block the shot. The unassisted goal was Boyd’s 11th of the season.
Then defenseman Christian Djoos made it 2-0 late in the first when he scored his 7th of the season. Hershey points-leader, Chris Bourque added the primary assist with Chandler Stephenson notching the secondary assist.
Hartford would get one back before the midway point of the second period when Nicklas Jensen scored his 21st goal of the season, beating Darren Dietz and firing a shot past Parker Milner.
Brad Malone took control of the puck behind the Hartford net, passed it to Stan Galiev, who made the cross-ice pass to Paul Carey for his 16th goal of the season to give the Bears the 3-1 lead going into the second intermission.
Chris Summers made things interesting early in the third when he scored his fourth goal of the season for Hartford, making it 3-2.
Milner, who did not see that much action in the game, put forth another solid effort in goal for Hershey, stopping 23 of 25 shots.
Hershey’s power play was 0 for 3 while the penalty kill was 2 for 2.
The three stars of the game were Paul Carey, Christian Djoos, and Brad Malone.
Hershey scratched Madison Bowey (lower body), Dustin Gazley (lower body), Nathan Walker (upper body), Joe Cannata, Steve Weinstein, and Jakub Vrana. The Vrana healthy scratch sent some shock-waves around Giant Center and social media. With the return of Barber to the line-up, Mann will need to scratch a forward unless there is an injury. He’s been fond of saying that everyone needs to earn their spot on the ice and was perhaps reminding his young forward that he needs to play 60 minutes of hockey.
Mann addressed the decision to scratch Vrana in his post-game press conference along with how he and his staff decided to manage Barber’s return.
Hershey travels to Bridgeport tomorrow for the first of five straight away contests. They then have back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Providence before another Sunday contest in Bridgeport.
Highlights from the game courtesy of the Hershey Bears.
By Julie Beidler