Bears Beat Thunderbirds 4-2; Nathan Walker Scores Twice

Photo: JustSports Photography

The Hershey Bears beat the Springfield Thunderbirds 4-2 Saturday night in Hershey. The Thunderbirds would open the scoring in the first period but Nathan Walker would tie the game early in the second. After Springfield regained the lead, the Bears struck back with goals from Dustin Gazley and Nathan Walker to take a 3-2 into the second intermission. Wayne Simpson would make it 4-2 late in the third period as the Bears would hang on for their second straight win of the weekend. The Bears return to action on Sunday when the visit the Baby Pens in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Puck drop is 3:05 p.m. 

Vitek Vanecek (9-8-2, 2.97 GAA, .901 sv%) got the start in goal for the Bears. Samuel Montembeault (13-18-3, 3.10 GAA, .899 sv%) started in goal for the Thunderbirds. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:


Scratches – Mathias Bau, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber, Mason Mitchell, Garrett Mitchell, Adam Chapie and Colby Williams.

The Thunderbirds owned a majority of the offensive zone time through the first 20 minutes, but Bears netminder Vitek Vanecek was strong, making several nice stops to keep the game scoreless.

Springfield would finally breakthrough with a goal from Anthony Greco at 17:44 of the first period.

The period would expire with Springfield leading 1-0. The Thunderbirds outshot the Bears 10-8 for the opening frame. There were no penalties called in the first 20 minutes.

The Bears would tie things up quickly with a wrap-around goal from Nathan Walker 52 seconds into the middle frame. This was Walkers 8th goal of the season. Aaron Ness and Chris Bourque were credited with the assists.

The Thunderbirds were awarded a penalty shot shortly after the equalizer by Walker, but Vanecek stymied the attempt with a nice poke check to keep the game tied at 1-1.

The Thunderbirds would regain the lead with a quick tally off a faceoff by Dryden Hunt at 3:11.

But the Bears would tie things up once again with a shorthanded goal from Dustin Gazley at 4:34 of the middle frame. This was Gazley’s 9th goal of the season. Aaron Ness and Madison Bowey were credited with the helpers.

Nathan Walker would give the Bears their first lead of the game with his second goal of the period at 5:27 of the second period. Lucas Johansen and Madison Bowey were credited with the assists.

The Bears were faced with a 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the period, but were able to stifle the Thunderbirds power play to keep the 3-2 lead.

The Bears outshot the Thunderbirds 11-7 for the middle frame and led 19-17 after two periods of play. Springfield was 0 for 2 and the Bears 0 for 1 on the power play.

After a furious middle frame, things calmed down quite a bit for the first half of the final frame. Vitek Vanecek continued his stellar play, making additional highlight reel saves in the third period.

Wayne Simpson would stretch the Bears lead to 4-2 with a goal off of a faceoff at 12:01 of the third period. This was Simpson’s 13th goal of the season. Liam O’Brien and Lucas Johansen were credited with the assists.

That would be the final. The Bears outshot the Thunderbirds 11-6 for the final frame, and 29-24 for the game.

Full game highlights from the Bears:

Coach Mann postgame presser:


  • Madison Bowey and Aaron Ness were +3
  • Nathan Walker had two goals.
  • Vitek Vanecek stopped 22 of 24 shots (.916 sv%).
  • Aaron Mess, Madison Bowey and Lucas Johansen had two assists.
  • Bears win 6th consecutive game on St. Patrick’s Day
  • Attendance: 9,258
  • The AHL box score is here.


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About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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1 Response to Bears Beat Thunderbirds 4-2; Nathan Walker Scores Twice

  1. Pingback: Hershey Bears have Luck of the Irish in 4-2 Win Over Springfield (Photos) | NoVa Caps

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