The Hartford Wolf Pack downed the Hershey Bears 4-2 Sunday evening at the Giant Center in Hershey, officially eliminating the Bears from postseason play. Hartford scored two early goals in the first period for a 2-0 lead after the first 20 minutes. The teams would trade tallies in the middle frame to make it 3-1 at the second intermission. The Bears would add a late goal by Liam O’Brien but it wouldn’t be enough. Hartford would add an empty net goal to make it 4-2 and that would be the final. The Bears return to action Wednesday night when they visit the Soundtigers in Bridgeport. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m.
Vitek Vanecek (11-8-2, 2.84 GAA, .894 sv%) got the start once again for the Bears. Marek Mazanec started in goal for the visiting Wolf Pack. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:
Scratches – Riley Barber, Mason Mitchell, Anthony Peluso, Colby Williams, Tim McGauley, Adam Chapie, Connor Hobbs, Chris Bourque.
The Wolf Pack would strike first with a power play goal by Vinni Letteiri at 5:08 of the opening frame. The Bears Tyler Lewington was called for boarding just 3:21 into the contest, setting up Hartford’s man advantage.
Former Bear John Albert would stretch the Wolf Pack’s lead to 2-0 with a tally at 12:56 of the first period. This was Albert’s first goal with the Wolf Pack.
Nathan Walker would try to ignite the Bears late in the period by dropping the gloves with Dawson Leedahl with 4:16 remaining in the period.
Walker and Leedahl both received five minutes for fighting, and Leedahl received an additional two minutes for slashing, sending the Bears to the power play. Unfortunately the Bears would be unable to capitalize, extending their power play scoring drought to 20 consecutive power plays.
The period would end with Hartford leading 2-0. Hershey outshot Hartford 11-7 for the opening frame. Hartford was 1 for 1 and the Bears 0 for 2 on the man advantage.
The Bears would cut into Hartford’s lead with a goal from Zach Sill at 9:32 of the middle frame. Hampus Gustafsson was credited with the helper.
Tyler Lewington would drop the gloves with former NHL’er Matt Beleksy at the 10:00 mark. This was Lewington’s eight fight of the season.
The Wolf Pack would quickly restore their two-goal lead with a power play goal from Ryan Lindgren at 10:42 of the second period. This was Lindgren’s first professional goal.
The second period would end with the Wolf Pack holding a 3-1 lead. Hartford outshot Hershey 13-7 for the middle frame and led 20-18 after 40 minutes of play.
The Bears had a number of additional power plays in the final frame but were once again unable to capitalize. Zach Sill had a clean break away late in the period but was unable to beat the Wolf Pack netminder.
Finally Hershey would find the back of the net with a goal from Liam O’Brien with 5:14 left in the game, making it 3-2. Wayne Simpson and Tyler Graovac were credited with the assists.
Hartford would add a late empty net goal to make it 4-2 and that would be the final.
- Bears miss playoffs for only the 13th time in franchise history.
- Hershey will miss the playoffs for only the second time since affiliating with Washington in 2005. They’ve won three Calder Cups and went to two other finals in that span.
- Attendance: 9,297
- The AHL box score is here.
Coach Mann postgame presser:
By Jon Sorensen
SCENES FROM GIANT CENTER