Needing a victory to stay in the Atlantic Division playoff race, the Hershey Bears got a goal from Chandler Stephenson with 8.5 seconds left in regulation for their second must-win game of the weekend. Hershey is now off until next Friday.
Hershey got on the board first when Tom Gilbert scored his third goal in the second period. The defenseman looked more like he belonged on the field at nearby Rogers Centre as he batted the puck out of the air and into the net. Riley Barber and Stephenson earned assists.
After a questionable call late in the third after Ryan Bourque was released from the penalty box after serving a double minor for high sticking, the Marlies tied the game. Pheonix Copley and the Bears immediately protested, saying that Copley was interfered with. The officials went to the replay, but the Marlies were awarded the goal. That goal was the lone blemish on a 29-save performance from Copley.
But it was Stephenson with the late-game heroics who saved the day and perhaps the season for the Bears. His goal with just seconds left, was assisted by Barber and Tyler Lewington, who had the game-winner last night in Rochester.
Hershey will now travel home keeping a close eye on the scoreboards in Lehigh Valley and Bridgeport. The Bears are now three points ahead of Bridgeport in the standings. Bridgeport was losing 1-0 to Providence at publication of this story and has a game in hand. Hershey is also now tied with the Phantoms. Lehigh Valley was up on Springfield 2-1 at publication. They also have a game in hand.
The AHL’s scoresheet lists Stephenson as the game’s first star and Copley as the game’s second star. There was no third star listed. Hershey was 0-for-2 on the PP.
By Julie Beidler