Photo: Connecticut Post
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers (15-12-2-1) defeated the visiting Hershey Bears (14-15-0-3) 3-1, with all three Bridgeport goals coming off the power play.
Vitek Vanecek got the start in goal for the Bears, as he holds the past two Hershey victories. Mason Mitchell (day-to-day) and Jeremy Langlois (week-to-week) did not make the trip North due to upper-body injuries and Connor Hobbs sat out tonight’s contest due to illness.
Hershey Bears Line
Liam O’Brien wasted no time, scoring his eighth goal of the season and solving goaltender Christopher Gibson on his 25th birthday at 1:38 into the first period.
Wayne Simpson was called for high sticking, giving the Sound Tigers their first power play of the night, which they would capitalize on to tie the game at one with 16:54 to go in the first. Just minutes later Riley Barber sat at 15:00 left in the first, which gave the Sound Tigers just the advantage they needed for a second power play goal, taking the one goal lead with 14:37 to play in the first period.
Referee Geoff Miller let nothing slide as Chris Bourque sat for hooking at 12:19 giving Bridgeport their third power play of the night. However, Hershey was able to kill of their first penalty of the night. Prior to tonight’s match-up they sat second in the Division on the Penalty kill at 83.9% success rate.
Bridgeport leads the Division in penalty kill success at 86.4% while Hershey put that to the test as the Sound Tigers sat with 5:29 to go in the opening period. Bridgeport had a big breakaway early in Hershey’s power play, but Vanecek said no with a big save to keep the Bears within one.
Bridgeport opened up the second period with two great shots on Vanecek who made sprawling saves, keeping the game within one in favor of the Sound Tigers. Mathias Bau had agreat opportunity, but was unable to solve Gibson to even the game.
Vanecek got called for tripping for his first professional penalty, which was served by Bourque with 11:16 to go. Bridgeport scored their third power play goal of the night off of Vanecek’s penalty, taking the 3-1 lead. Hershey continued to hand Bridgeport opportunities as Colby Williams took a trip to the sin bin for holding with 4:43 remaining in the middle frame.
Just 1:03 remaining in the second period, Bridgeport sat giving the Bears the man advantage which would carry over into the last session. The Sound Tigers lead in shots 16-15 to close the second period.
Hershey had the man advantage for 57 seconds to open the last frame of the night, looking to string a pair of goals and tie the game at three.
Bau sent the Bears on their 6th penalty kill of the night at 13:53 into the third but Bridgeport returned the favor, giving Hershey their third power play of the night with just over half the period remaining.
Barber had another great opportunity to bring the Bears within one but sent the puck right into Gibson who made an effortless save. Vanecek returned to the bench giving Hershey an extra attacker with 3:30 to play. Bridgeport just missed the empty net and called for icing, allowing Hershey to put a fresh line up against the very tired Sound Tigers for a 6-on-5.
Aaron Ness was knocked down and spent a moment to regain himself resulting in a much needed power play for Hershey with 40 seconds to go in regulation time. O’Brien gave up the power play opportunity by getting caught hooking just 8 seconds into the man advantage.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers would skate away with the 3-1 victory with all Sound Tigers goals coming on the power play.
By Allison Shuey