Photo: Toronto Marlies
Two days after shutting out the Belleville Senators for their third consecutive win, the Hershey Bears pounded the Toronto Marlies 5-2 to earn their fourth straight victory and sweep their weekend set.
Unlike their victory against Belleville, the Bears found themselves down just 6:49 into the game after Toronto center Miro Aaltonen scored his 13th goal of the season on a very early power play for the Marlies. Just under three minutes later, the Chocolate and White found themselves down a man yet again, as Riley Barber was called for hooking. Fortunately, the Bears’ penalty killers were able to hold the Marlies without a goal. The Bears themselves would get their first man-advantage of the game late in the period, but failed to convert on their chances. The Bears found themselves down on the scoreboard and in shots, 9-7, after 20 minutes of play.
The Bears did not need long in the middle frame to respond to a scoreless first period performance, as Tyler Graovac potted his ninth goal of the campaign to even the score at 1-1, with assists coming from defensemen Tyler Lewington and Lucas Johansen.
Just over two minutes later, Jeremy Langlois followed suit with his third of the season to give the Bears a 2-1 lead (their first of the game) over Toronto, on assists from Colby Williams and Dustin Gazley.
Just under halfway through the period, Nathan Walker scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play to put the Bears ahead by two, with assists from newcomer Joe Whitney and defenseman Connor Hobbs.
The second period would be ended prematurely due to needed repairs to the boards. Late in the second, Hershey goaltender Pheonix Copley made a marvelous stop to keep the Bears ahead by two. The Bears would head into an early second period ahead 3-1 and in shots 18-14.
After being throttled in the middle frame, the Marlies came out of the second intermission with an answer, as Rinat Valiev scored his fifth goal of the season shorthanded just 1:52 into the final frame on assists from Aaltonen and Andreas Borgman to bridge the gap and cut the Bears’ lead by one. The period would remain uneventful minus a mid-period power play for Toronto which the Bears successfully killed off, until the final two minutes of the period. Bears forward Liam O’Brien scored two empty-net goals (his 12th and 13th of the season, respectively, with assists from Gazley and Copley. The Bears held the Marlies to just two goals with a strong second frame to win their aforementioned fourth straight and their first four-game winning streak of 2017-18. The Bears would ultimately fall short in shots (29-27), but came away with a hard-won victory.
The Bears official recap is here.
By Michael Fleetwood