It seems like when the Hershey Bears have their backs to the wall, they pull out all of the stops and find a way to win. Such was the case this week. Finding themselves once again in 5th place after going 0-3 last week, the Bears came up with three big wins and got a bit of help, climbing back into the 4th, and final, playoff spot in the Atlantic Division with two games to go.
The daunting task of winning out started Wednesday night in Lehigh Valley. The 2nd place Phantoms handed Hershey one of their three losses the week before and held the lead late in the game until Riley Barber forced overtime with just under 6:00 to go in the game. He then assisted on Travis Boyd’s game winner in overtime. Hershey, after struggling in overtime earlier in the year, has now won its last in OT.
Liam O’Brien scored the game’s opening goal with a minute to go in the first period. Boyd and Jakub Vrana assisted. But Lehigh Valley notched a goal in the second and one in the third to take the lead before Barber tied it. D-men Tom Gilbert and Christian Djoos earned assists.
Meanwhile, Pheonix Copley made 28 saves in net for the Bears.
The Bears then took to the road for Friday night’s game in Rochester. After giving up a goal just 26 seconds into the game, the Bears tied the game up just 1:22 later when Vrana connected for his 17th goal of the season with Boyd and O’Brien assisting. But Rochester regained the lead before the first intermission.
In the second, Barber scored his second goal of the week, 13th of the season, on the power play with O’Brien and Djoos each logging another assist. Nearly ten minutes later, Tyler Lewington became the night’s hero, scoring what would be the game-winner. It was his fourth goal of the season and was assisted by Chris Bourque. Copley stopped 25-27 including all 11 shots in the third to preserve the victory.
After the late finish, the Bears crossed the border into Canada for their Saturday evening game against the North Division leader, Toronto.
After a scoreless first period, Gilbert recorded his third goal of the season with Barber and Stephenson assisting early in the second. Toronto would get a late goal in the third to tie the game, and it looked as if Hershey was headed for another overtime until Stephenson scored his 10th, and perhaps biggest, goal of the season with just 9 seconds remaining. Barber and Lewington were awarded assists.
After the game, Stephenson was rewarded with a recall to Washington, but it wasn’t until Troy Mann announced that Garrett Mitchell was also being recalled that the locker room erupted with applause.
Copley’s 29-save performance earned him first star honors for the game with Stephenson taking second.
On the week, Hershey was 1-10 on the power play and 12-13 on the penalty kill.
Hershey’s regular season comes to a close this weekend as the Bears travel to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Friday before returning home to face Providence Saturday. Hershey needs to win both to ensure their berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
*NEW – NovaCap Three Stars of the Week – Check back later this week for an article on
- Riley Barber 2G, 3A
- Liam O’Brien 1G, 2A
- Tyler Lewington – 1G, 1A +3
|#||Name||Games played||Goals||Assists||+/-||Shots||Pen Min.|
Vitek Vanecek 0-0
Pheonix Copley – 3-0 – 82 saves on 87 shots
THREE STARS of the GAME (opponent)
- Boyd (LV), Lewington (Rochester), Copley (Toronto)
- Stephenson (Toronto)
- Copley (LV), O’Brien (Rochester)
Aaron Ness (lower body)
Madison Bowey (upper body)
ADD – Garrett Pilon – Signed to ATO – April 5
DEL – Mason Mitchell – Released from ATO – April 5
DEL – Chandler Stephenson – Recalled from loan by Washington – April 9
DEL – Garrett Mitchell – Recalled from loan by Washington – April 9
ADD – Garrett Mitchell – Returned on loan from Washington – April 10
ADD – Tim McGauley – Reassigned by Washington from South Carolina – April 10
ADD – Adam Morrison – Signed to PTO – April 11
- The paper transactions of Paul Carey are not included to save time and space – more on that here
Hershey’s Magic Number now sits at 4 with 2 games remaining.
Springfield and Hartford are both eliminated.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has clinched a playoff berth.
Lehigh Valley can clinch tomorrow with a win or regulation tie vs. Wilkes- Barre/Scranton.
Providence can clinch tomorrow with a victory at Springfield.
By Julie Beidler
— Beids (@juliebeidler) April 2, 2017