For the first time since the 2016 Calder Cup playoffs, the Bears and Marlies faced off, and just like that series last year, the Bears came out on top with a 4-3 victory. The second period, which has been unkind to the Hershey Bears this season, was once again unkind to the Bears Saturday night, but Hershey battled through it for the victory.
Up 1-0 after the first period thanks to a brilliant goal from Christian Thomas, who leads the team with 19 goals, and some stellar goaltending from Joe Cannata (see video recap below courtesy of the Hershey Bears), the Marlies owned the first half of the second period, scoring two goals in 13 seconds just over two minutes into the period to grab the momentum and take the lead for the first time.
Former Hershey Bear, Brooks Laich, returned to Giant Center and had an assist on the first Toronto goal from Casey Smith. Mason Marchment’s first of the season came just seconds later, but the Bears and Cannata regained their footing and intensity following Toronto’s third goal.
The first of the two back-to-back Hershey goals came on the power play. Christian Djoos fired a shot towards the goal that was deflected by Chris Bourque. It was Bourque’s 16th of the season.
Bourque then registered an assist on Hershey’s next goal when he found Darren Dietz all alone in the slot. Dietz’s goal, his sixth of the season, tied the game at 3-3 and breathed new life into the sellout crowd of 10, 369 at Giant Center.
Hershey kept the pressure on in the third period, Stan Galiev nearly got the go-ahead goal on the PP with 10:30 to go in the game, but Antoine Bibeau, who came on in relief of Garret Sparks who was injured on Hershey’s first goal, was in the right place at the right time.
After killing off a Toronto power play, Hershey headed back to the PP late in the third after a brief 4-on-4 looking for the go-ahead goal in desperate need of two points.
After Bibeau gloved Travis Boyd’s attempt, Hershey’s second PP unit came out onto the ice and Liam O’Brien found the back of the net for the go-ahead game-winner with 3:03 left on the clock.
Hershey missed the empty net twice, allowing the Marlies a few extra chances, but Hershey would not be denied.
Hershey heads to Bridgeport tomorrow for a very important Atlantic Division contest.
By Julie Beidler