With Atlantic Division rivals Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton facing off tonight as well as Providence and Bridgeport, the door was wide open for the Hershey Bears to take control of a playoff position with a victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
With Hartford already eliminated from playoff contention, the phrase “trap games” was thrown around Giant Center for the better part of a week as the Bears host Hartford for a pair of games. But Christian Djoos turned in a four-point effort in Hershey’s 4-3 OT victory. Read more on Djoos here.
Hartford definitely didn’t make things easy for the Bears. They got on the board first after Liam O’Brien was called for a not-so-popular cross-checking penalty. Greg Carey scored less than 30 second in to give the Wolf Pack the early lead.
44 seconds later, Paul Carey, no relation to Greg, tied the game with his 19th goal of the season. Christian Djoos and Travis Boyd assisted.
Then, with 2.3 seconds left in the period, Carey made a tremendous pass from the corner to gain control of the puck and sent it towards the front of the goal where Djoos waited. Boyd earned another secondary assist on the goal.
But Hartford responded with just under five minutes into the third period to tie the game after the Wolf Pack got behind defenders Aaron Ness and Tyler Lewington.
Hershey nearly regained the lead seconds later with Stephenson’s line, but the luck of the Irish (aka puck luck) was not with them and they came up just short.
But that didn’t last long as they stayed on the ice and Tom Gilbert fired a rocket from the blue line that deflected off of Garrett Mitchell and into the net for the 3-2 lead. It was Mitchell’s 100th point.
But Hartford wouldn’t go away. They tied the game with 3:54 to go. The two teams battled to a tie in regulation.
The Bears, who have been snakebitten this season in overtime, finally solved OT in Giant Center when Stan Galiev made a great play to keep the puck in the zone and set up Djoos for the game-winner. Hershey is now 2-8 in OT this season. Djoos notched a point on every Hershey goal and was the game’s first star. Carey (2nd) and Boyd (3rd) also earned game honors.
Pheonix Copley was busy in net for the Bears all night as Hershey once again was out-shot in the early going . Copley stopped 22 of 25 shots
Hershey’s PP was 0 for 4 while the PK went 2 for 3.
The game marked the long-awaited return of Madison Bowey to the ice after a terrifying lower body injury in Syracuse. Fans and players were all glad to see #4 back on the ice. Chris Bourque gave him a hug before departing the ice following warm-ups.
Hershey hosts Hartford again tomorrow night and should have Jakub Vrana back in the lineup. Vrana watched from the upper level of Giant Center Friday night. Hershey will then travel to Bridgeport for a Sunday afternoon game.
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) March 17, 2017