What a week it was for the Hershey Bears. First Pheonix Copley returns in a trade deal, he starts in Syracuse and goes down, he rises again to start against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (and was named first star in both games as the Bears won). Then Vitek Vanecek allows two goals early against Springfield (truth be told, the defense let him down – BIG TIME), but the Bears responded with 4 goals in the late stages of the game to sweep the week! Oh, and the Bears made up ground in the Atlantic Division.
And biggest storyline here is? Perhaps Copley or perhaps Kelly Zajac, a recall from South Carolina who got the game-winner and an insurance goal against Springfield. Perhaps it’s Stan Galiev who was absolutely brilliant this week. Or Hubert Labrie, who was sent hard into the boards, but returned to the ice later and just kept on doing the “dirty” work that a defenseman does. Heck, maybe it was Beaker. He sewed up quite a few guys this weekend and got Copley healthy enough for the Sunday start.
Whatever way you want to call it, it was a huge week for Hershey who, while still in 5th in the Atlantic Division, finally made up a little ground as two of the teams above them finally were relegated to the loss column. They’re not out of it yet. They aren’t giving in, and since they play for such a storied franchise, nobody expects them to.
Tom Gilbert recorded the opening goal in Syracuse Friday night, his first of the season for Hershey, and the scoring fest began.
Riley Barber and Christian Djoos each notched a goal while Christian Thomas scored a pair in Hershey’s 5-1 victory over the Crunch, the first place team in the North Division. In all, 11 Bears recorded a point with Barber, Travis Boyd, Liam O’Brien, Chris Bourque, Chandler Stephenson, Garrett Mitchell, Zajac, and Colby Williams all recording assists.
But it wasn’t all rosy for Hershey as Copley would have to be helped off the ice in the third period by Zach Sill and Stephenson. Word came later that he was dehydrated, which he attributed to all of the travel in an interview Saturday. Here is a link to our Prospect Report on Copley.
Copley, much to the relief of Hershey fans, was just fine and started in net for the Bears against the Atlantic Division leader, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday.
After Josh Archibald put the Penguins on the board first midway through the first period, Hershey responded with a goal from Williams less than four minutes later. Then, Galiev notched his 18th of the season with a sweet curl-and-drag move as he raced in along the right side in the second period. That goal went on to become the game-winner as the goalies stole the show in the 3rd.
Thomas had assists on both goals while Galiev assisted on the goal from Williams and Gilbert got the primary assist on Galiev’s goal. Copley, who earned back-to-back first star honors, stopped 36 of 37 shots for the victory in his return to Giant Center.
Facing a difficult third game in as many days, Hershey hosted the Springfield Thunderbirds in what Troy Mann termed a “trap game” Sunday, and after a slow start offensively and a terrible start defensively, the Bears bounced back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 4-2 victory.
The defense hung starting goalie Vitek Vanecek out to dry early, and Springfield capitalized with a pair of goals within the opening five minutes including a power play goal which came after a tripping call put Domenic Monardo in the box.
It wasn’t until the final minute of the second period when Galiev finally got the Bears on the board. Stephenson, working behind the Springfield goal, took control of the puck and found Galiev just below the left face-off dot, Ovechkin’s Office if you will, for the power play goal. Gilbert recorded the secondary assist.
Then in the third, Thomas tied the game. Boyd made a terrific play at the blue line, got the puck to Galiev along the left-side, and the Russian made a beautiful stick-to-stick pass to Thomas who stood all alone on the right side.
A few minutes later, Zajac emerged as the hero, logging a pair of goals for Hershey in the final 8 minutes of the game to help Hershey sweep the week.
The first came after Chris Bourque let loose a shot high in the offensive zone. It bounced off of Mitchell and Springfield goalie, Sam Brittain, and Zajac pounced on it and hammered it home for the lead. Then he tacked on an empty net goal in the waning seconds of the game with Ryan Bourque and Gilbert earning assists.
With Lehigh Valley and Bridgeport both losing in regulation, Hershey’s come-from-behind victory was even bigger as they finally were able to make up some ground on two of the teams ahead of them in the Atlantic Division.
On the week, the PP was 3 for 13. The PK was 13 for 14.
Hershey is on the road in Lehigh Valley Friday, travels to Binghamton Saturday, and hosts Providence Sunday at Giant Center.
*NEW – NovaCaps Three Stars of the Week – Check back later this week for an article on…
- Christian Thomas – 3G, 2A
- Pheonix Copley – 2W – 63 saves on 65 shots
- Stan Galiev – 2G, 2A
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Vitek Vanecek 1-0 – 27 saves on 29 shots
Pheonix Copley – 2-0 – 63 saves on 65 shots
THREE STARS of the GAME (opponent)
- Copley (Syracuse), Copley (WBS), Zajac (Springfield)
- Thomas (Syracuse), Galiev (WBS), Galiev (Springfield)
- Thomas (WBS), Thomas (Springfield)
Dustin Gazley (lower body) – projected to return this weekend
Madison Bowey (lower body) – possible return this month
Nathan Walker (upper body) – possible return this weekend
DEL – Zach Sanford – Recalled from loan by Washington (traded) – Feb. 27
DEL – Brad Malone – Recalled from loan by Washington (traded) – Feb. 27
ADD – Pheonix Copley – Loaned from Washington – Feb 27
DEL – Jakub Vrana – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 28
DEL – Parker Milner – Returned on loan to South Carolina – Feb. 28
DEL – Riley Barber – Recalled from loan by Washington – Feb. 28
ADD- Jakub Vrana – Returned on loan by Washington – Mar. 1
DEL – Jakub Vrana – Recalled from loan by Washington – Mar. 1
ADD – Cody Corbett – Loaned from Washington – Mar. 1
DEL – Joe Cannata – Recalled from loan by Washington (traded) – Mar. 1
ADD – Riley Barber – Returned on loan from Washington – Mar. 1
ADD – Domenic Monardo – Recalled from loan to South Carolina – Mar. 2
DEL – Paul Carey – Recalled from loan by Washington – Mar. 2
Hershey’s Magic Number now sits at 39 with 17 games remaining
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) March 5, 2017