Two wins in three games in a normal weekend would be a good week, but for the Hershey Bears who are still on the outside of the playoff race looking in, four points as opposed to six just isn’t going to get it done. But Hershey fans are hopeful that the arrival of Tom Gilbert on defense (more on Gilbert here) and Pheonix Copley in goal will be the ticket to the post-season.
The Hershey Bears opened the weekend with a bang, downing the Hartford Wolfpack 6-1 in Hartford. They followed that up with a dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Toronto Marlies at Giant Center Saturday, but once again fell to the Sound Tigers in their third consecutive Sunday afternoon game in Bridgeport, 2-1.
Friday night in Bridgeport, Hershey scored the game’s first five goals before Hartford finally got on the board late in the second period.
Christian Thomas tallied his 18th goal of the season when Ryan Bourque passed the puck to Christian Djoos as they both entered the offensive zone to the right of Halverson. Djoos passed the puck across the ice to a wide-open Thomas for the 1-0 lead.
Just over a minute later, Travis Boyd was working behind Halverson’s net and found Jakub Vrana streaking towards the net for the 2-0 lead.
Stan Galiev added Hershey’s third goal with a shot from just outside the face-off dot. Boyd then tallied a goal of his own as Liam O’Brien and Vitek Vanecek assisting. It was Vanecek’s second assist this season.
O’Brien then got a goal of his own after he took a pass from Gilbert in his first game for Hershey and raced in alone on Hellberg, who replaced Halverson after Galiev’s goal.
After Hartford scored late in the second period, Galiev rounded out the scoring with his second goal of the night while Hershey was on the power play. Assists on his 17th of the season went to Djoos and Chris Bourque.
Vanecek finished the night with 22 saves on 23 shots. The Bears, went 1-for-6 on the power play, but were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Saturday night, the Bears returned to Giant Center for their only home game of the weekend, hosting former Capital Brooks Laich and the Toronto Marlies.
Thomas opened the scoring with an unassisted goal near the midway point of the first period when he pounced on a pass deep in the offensive zone and beat Garrett Sparks for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. Sparks was injured on the play, Hershey’s first shot of the game.
Joe Cannata, back from South Carolina where he went 3-0, all but stood on his head in the first period, making six huge saves including a huge sequence of shots late in the period by Toronto.
But as good as Cannata was in the first, the second period was an entirely different story. Toronto scored three straight goals in the early part of the second period with Laich recording an assist on the first. The sell-out crowd at Giant Center reacted with polite applause, but they erupted later as the Bears tied the game before the end of the second period.
First Chris Bourque deflected a Djoos shot into the goal for Hershey’s first powerplay goal of the evening. Then in a nearly identical spot from where Djoos took his shot, Darren Dietz took a pass from Chris Bourque and netted his sixth goal of the season to tie the game.
O’Brien scored the game-winner late in the third while the Bears were on the powerplay. The forward set up in front of the Toronto net, took a pass from Djoos, and wrapped it around Bibeau to put the Bears back in front. Hershey then weathered the extra attacker for the final 102 seconds to secure the victory.
But in arguably the biggest game of the weekend, the Bears were unable to come from behind for the second time as the Sound Tigers pulled out a 2-1 victory in Bridgeport.
Djoos recorded his ninth goal of the season and fifth point on the weekend early in the first period to give the Bears the lead, but Bridgeport stormed back to tie the game before the first intermission.
After a scoreless second period, the Sound Tigers got what has been described as a highlight-reel worthy goal midway through the third, which would become the game winner.
Vitek Vanecek stopped 15 of 17 shots in the loss. Hershey registered 20 shots on Halak.
The power play was a mere 4 for 15 on the week while the penalty kill was 7 for 8.
Hershey is in Syracuse Friday night and hosts Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday and Springfield Sunday. Hershey’s magic number now sits at 48, so every game this month and next are becoming more and more like elimination games. How many games will Pheonix Copley see this weekend? Will his first game back be Saturday against the Penguins (who just might have another familiar name, Eric Fehr, on their roster. Fehr was placed on waivers by Pittsburgh today).
*NEW – NovaCaps Three Stars of the Week – Check back later this week for an article on…
- Christian Djoos – 1G, 4A
- Liam O’Brien – 2G, 1A
- Chris Bourque – 1G, 2A
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Vitek Vanecek 1-1 – 37 saves on 40 shots
Parker Milner 0-0
Joe Cannata 1-0 – 22 saves on 25 shots
THREE STARS of the GAME (opponent)
- Boyd (Hartford), O’Brien (Toronto)
- O’Brien (Hartford), C. Bourque (Toronto)
- Galiev, (Hartford), Dietz (Toronto), Djoos (Bridgeport)
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
ADD – Joe Cannata – Reassigned by Washington from South Carolina to Hershey – Feb. 21
DEL – Travis Boyd – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 21
ADD – Travis Boyd – Returned on loan from Washington – Feb. 22
DEL – Aaron Ness – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 23
DEL – Riley Barber – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 23
ADD – Zach Sanford – Returned on loan from Washington – Feb. 26
ADD – Aaron Ness – Returned on loan from Washington – Feb. 26
ADD – Riley Barber – Returned on loan from Washington – Feb. 26
DEL – Zach Sanford – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 27 (traded to St. Louis)
DEL – Brad Malone – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 27 (traded to St. Louis)
ADD – Pheonix Copley – Loaned from Washington – Feb. 28
DEL – Parker Milner – Returned on loan to South Carolina – Feb. 28
DEL – Riley Barber – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 28
DEL – Jakub Vrana – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 28
By Julie Beidler