Despite a strong start against the Rochester Americans on Friday night, the Hershey Bears ended up dropping a 7-6 game in a shootout in Rochester. Pheonix Copley made his season debut tonight against the Rochester Americans, after suffering a lower body injury back in mid-September. Copley had his work cut out for him in this action packed game, but took the loss after stopping 30 shots.
The Bears struck first just 44 seconds into the contest, as Jeremy Langlois set up Travis Boyd for a one-timer, making it a 1-0 game in favor of Hershey. Rochester was caught with too many men on the ice, which resulted in a subsequent Hershey power play. Bears forward Riley Barber fired a shot at the net that was initially blocked, but finished off by Chris Bourque for his fourth of the season. The excitement didn’t end there, as Anthony Peluso scored on a beautiful backhanded shot on a breakaway, making it a 3-0 game just over six minutes into the first period. Hershey remained strong on the penalty kill, as they successfully killed off a 5-on-3 power play by the Americans near the end of the first period. Coming into this game, the Bears had only led after the first period just once.
Despite an initially strong start by the Bears, the Americans spoiled Copley’s chance at a shutout and went on a scoring run. Garret Ross slipped a puck past Copley to make it a 3-1 game. Rochester stormed Hershey’s net on an odd-man rush, and despite an unbelievable save by Copley, the puck hit a Bear in front body and deflected into the Hershey net to make it a 3-2 game in favor of the Bears. Rochester’s Kevin Porter was credited with the goal.
With Bears captain Garrett Mitchell in the penalty box for two minutes, Bears defenseman Tyler Lewington took a penalty of his own, but before the play was blown dead, the Americans tied the game to make it a 3-3 score. With the delayed penalty, the Bears remained on the penalty kill for another two minutes, and Rochester took advantage of the Bears’ undisciplined play, taking a 4-3 lead with a second power play goal within minutes of their tying tally. The Americans were not done, as they found the net again and took a 5-3 lead just seven minutes into the second period.
Tempers began to flare as the Americans targeted Bears forward Wayne Simpson, with Hershey coming out of the chaos with a much-needed power play. Barber answered with his second goal of the season on assists from Kelly Zajac and Chris Bourque. Defenseman Colby Williams was handed a hooking penalty, which allowed the Americans to pull away with a 6-4 lead on their third power play goal of the night, giving them a 6-4 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Hershey began the third period down by a pair of goals. Rookie defenseman Lucas Johanson brought the game within one with just over 13 minutes to play in the last session, and seemed as though the game was slipping out of reach until Hubert Labrie came off the bench, collected a puck off the boards, and shot one past Linus Ullmark to tie the game 6-6. Shortly after Labrie’s goal, the Americans sent the puck out of play and were subsequently dealt a delay of game penalty, giving the Bears a chance to break the tie. The Bears were not able to capitalize on the power play, and the game headed to sudden-death overtime.
Overtime would prove to be uneventful for both Hershey and Rochester and the game headed to the shootout. The first round of the skills competition resulted in no goal for either team, with the puck poked away from Hershey forward Dustin Gazley before even attempting to shoot the puck. The second round saw the Americans and Hershey both score. The third round saw the Americans’ Eric Cornel score and Bourque subsequently miss the net, resulting in a 7-6 loss for the Chocolate and White.
Mathias Bau picked up his first AHL point off Peluso’s goal tonight. The game highlights, courtesy of the Rochester Americans:
The Bears return home for the first matchup of two this season against the Toronto Marlies at the Giant Center tomorrow night. Puck drop is 7:00 P.M.
By Allison Shuey