With Zach Sanford and Jakub Vrana recalled to Washington and the addition of Tom Gilbert on to the Hershey defense, the Bears faced three important road games against the two teams they were battling for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. While there were glimmers of hope against Providence, a demoralizing loss to Bridgeport Sunday did some major damage to Hershey’s playoff hopes.
Friday night in Providence, Stan Galiev scored a pair of goals and newly signed Kelly Zajac scored as well, but it wasn’t enough as the Bruins scored 4 goals on Parker Milner before Vitek Vanecek was called in in relief, and the Bears fell 4-3 to Providence.
Providence hopped out to an early 2-0 lead before Zajac scored his first in a Hershey uniform with assists going to Garrett Mitchell and Tyler Lewington, but the Bruins added another goal in the first and one early in the second that prompted Troy Mann to make a goalie change.
Vanecek, for his part, was a perfect 18 for 18 and Galiev added a pair of goals, one unassisted in the second and one assisted by Paul Carey in the third, but the Bruins held on to keep Hershey from picking up even one point in the tightly-contested Atlantic Division.
In Saturday’s rematch, Vanecek went 33 for 33 in net to earn the shutout and four different skaters scored for a 4-0 victory.
Brad Malone put Hershey up early with a short-handed, unassisted goal later in the first period.
In the second, Christian Djoos scored with assists to Travis Boyd and Carey before Vanecek was called on late in the period to stop a penalty shot attempt by Wayne Simpson.
The short-handed goal and the Providence’s failure to connect on the penalty shot propelled the Bears through the third period with insurance tallied coming from Garrett Mitchell (unassisted) and Galiev (assisted by Carey and Lewington).
After the terrific victory Saturday, the Bears boarded the bus for the final stop of the weekend, but Bridgeport jumped out in front early, and after giving up a goal early in the third, added three more goals down the stretch for a 5-1 victory over the Bears.
Chris Bourque provided Hershey’s only tally of the game early in the third on the power play. Djoos and Boyd added the assists on the goal that cut Bridgeport’s lead to 2-1, but the Sound Tigers added a power play goal, an even strength goal, and an empty netter for the victory.
Vanecek, who had yet to allow a goal all weekend, stopped 24 of 28 in the loss for the Bears.
Hershey’s power play was 1 for 10 on the week. The penalty kill was 8 for 9.
The Bears ends their five-game road stretch Friday night in Hartford. They host Toronto Saturday at 7:00 at Giant Center before hitting the road to Bridgeport once again Sunday.
With the Bears on the outside looking in for the Calder Cup Playoffs, Hershey’s magic number sits at 53. With only 23 games left on their schedule, the Bears will need help to make it into the playoffs this season.
* Note – Neither Providence nor Bridgeport had uploaded game highlights as of publication of this article.
*NEW – NovaCaps Three Stars of the Week – Check back later this week for an article on
- Stan Galiev – 3G, 0A
- Garrett Mitchell – 1G, 1A
- Vitek Vanecek – 1-1 (Shutout)
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Vitek Vanecek 1-1 – 75 saves on 79 shots
Parker Milner 0-1 – 11 saves on 15 shots
THREE STARS (opponent)
- Vanecek (Providence – Sat)
- Galiev (Providence – Fri)
- Djoos (Providence – Sat)
Dustin Gazley (lower body) – projected out until mid-February
Madison Bowey (lower body) – out indefinitely – projected April return
Nathan Walker (upper body) – 4-6 weeks
DEL – Joe Cannata – Reassigned by Washington to South Carolina – Feb. 14
ADD – Tom Gilbert – Loaned from Washington – Feb. 15
ADD – Kelly Zajac – Recalled from loan to South Carolina – Feb. 16
DEL – Steve Weinstein – Released from PTO – Feb. 16
DEL – Jakub Vrana – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 16
DEL – Zach Sanford – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 16
ADD – Jakub Vrana – Returned on loan from Washington – Feb. 19