Just days after being eliminated from Calder Cup playoff contention, the Hershey Bears’ mediocre season continued tonight with a 6-4 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, despite being the recipients of six power play opportunities.
The first period, much like the entire game, was an eventful one, as the Sound Tigers wasted no time in making some noise, as John Stevens scored his fifth goal of the season to put the Sound Tigers in front by one just 29 seconds into the opening frame. Former Bear Ryan Bourque and Casey Bailey were credited with assists on the goal. Less than three minutes later, the Sound Tigers would add to their lead on a goal by Ryan Hitchcock (his second of the season) for a commanding 2-0 lead. Stevens and Bailey were credited with assists on the goal. It would take the Bears about 11 minutes to trim Bridgeport’s lead, cutting the lead in half on a power play goal by Joe Whitney; the goal was Whitney’s 14th of the season and Aaron Ness and recently returned Travis Boyd were credited with assists on the goal. Despite three power plays during the period, the Bears were only able to convert on one of them.
Just like in the opening frame, the Sound Tigers would strike first, albeit not as quickly. The Sound Tigers regained a two-goal lead on a goal from defenseman Andre Benoit at the 7:44 mark; the goal was Benoit’s second of the 2017-18 season and was assisted by Kyle Schempp. Despite a power play for each team during the first of the period, neither was able to convert. The Sound Tigers struck again, on yet another goal from John Stevens, building a dominant three-goal lead over the Chocolate and White. Less than a minute later, Steve Bernier potted his 17th goal of the season to give the Bears a commanding four-goal lead; Hershey pulled goalie Vitek Vanecek in favor of backup Adam Carlson after the fifth goal (allowed on 19 shots). The period would end with the Bears down 5-1 and leading in shots 24-19.
Unlike the preceding two periods, the Bears would be the team to strike first in the final period, with Anthony Peluso scoring at the 6:13 mark (shortly after the Bears failed to convert on their sixth power play of the night) to bring the Bears within three of the Sound Tigers. Zach Sill and Colby Williams were credited with the assists on the goal. Bridgeport would need little time to respond, as Josh Ho-Sang scored his eighth goal of the season to regain a four-goal lead for the Sound Tigers. The Bears would respond just under four minutes later on a goal from Hampus Gustafsson, assisted by Peluso. With 29 seconds left in the game, Peluso scored his sixth of the season and second of the night to bring the Bears within two, but alas, it proved to be too late to make a comeback. The Bears finished their season series against Bridgeport having won just one game, while losing the other three on the road. Despite the score, the Bears finished with 40 shots to Bridgeport’s 28 and despite six power play opportunities, they only managed to convert on one.
By Michael Fleetwood