Photo: Providence Bruins
Back in a playoff position after a strong performance in the second part of the season, the Hershey Bears followed up a 4-1 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers a few days ago with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Providence Bruins on Friday night.
The first period was rather uneventful for either team, with the first 10 minutes of the game not seeing much in the way of offense. At the 10:28 mark of the opening frame, the Bruins were given the first power play of the game after the Bears’ Riley Barber was called for holding. Despite the man-advantage, the Bruins were unable to convert. Just under four minutes later, Bears defenseman Aaron Ness was sent to the penalty box for interference, but the Chocolate and White again thwarted Providence’s man-advantage. The game remained scoreless for most of the period until, with just under two minutes left in the period, Barber scored his 27th of the season on assists from Ness and Devante Smith-Pelly to give the Bears a late 1-0 lead. With just under a minute left in the frame, Hershey’s Liam O’Brien and Providence’s Gemel Smith were handed matching roughing minors. The period ended with the Bears ahead in the goals department and both teams equal in shots at 12-12.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) March 9, 2019
The beginning of the middle frame saw the Bruins get on the board on a power play goal from Jordan Szwarz on assists from Connor Clifton and former Hershey Bear Paul Carey at the 7:11 mark, after Bears blueliner Connor Hobbs was called for interference. Shortly after the power play marker from Szwarz, Bears defenseman Tyler Lewington and Providence’s Trent Frederic dropped the gloves. The Bears received their first power play opportunity of the night at the 8:38 mark of the second after Bruin Tanner Pond was called for interference; the Bears, however, were unable to convert on the man-advantage. The Bears got their second man-advantage of the night when Smith was called for slashing at the 12:01 mark of the second frame. The Bears would again be unable to find the back of the net.
Just 4:20 after Smith’s slashing penalty, the Bears’ bench was called for too many men on the ice, served by Max Kammerer. This time, the Bruins did not miss their opportunity, as former Bear Paul Carey scored his 17th of the season on assists from Clifton and Karson Kuhlman on the power play to give the Bruins a late second period lead. The Bruins would head into the second intermission up 2-1 and outshooting the Bears by seven, 25-18.
The start of the third period saw the Bears receive their third power play of the night after Providence center Mark McNeill was called for holding just 2:27 into the frame, but the Bears would again be held scoreless with the man-advantage. The majority of the final frame was rather uneventful following the Bears’ failed man-advantage, but second-year Bears’ defenseman Lucas Johansen scored his second goal of the season at the 15:06 mark on an assist from Mike Sgarbossa and Smith-Pelly, of the final frame to tie the game at 2-2, with less just over five minutes left to play in regulation. Just 41 seconds after Johansen’s tally, Providence’s Urho Vaakanainen took a high-sticking penalty to put the Bears on a late period power play and a chance to take the lead. The Chocolate and White would again fail to score with the man up. The Bears and Bruins would remain tied at the end of 20 minutes, with the game requiring an extra five minutes of play to decide a winner. The Bears ended regulation 27 shots to Providence’s 29.
Overtime & Shootout
Despite five minutes with which to work in overtime, neither the Bears nor Bruins were able to solve the opposing team’s netminder, pushing the game to a decisive shootout round. The Bears recorded three shots on net in overtime to Providence’s two. The first round of the shootout saw both Providence’s Trent Frederic and Hershey’s Riley Barber stopped by both netminders. The second round saw both Bruin Ryan Fitzgerald and Bear Nathan Walker fail to convert, as would Jordan Szwarz and Mike Sgarbossa in the third round. Both Paul Carey and Devante Smith-Pelly would fail to convert on their chances in the following round and Gemel Smith and Jayson Megna would follow suit in the fifth round. Providence’s Anton Blidh would finally beat Hershey netminder Vitek Vanecek in the sixth round, and Aaron Ness would be denied by Zane McIntyre to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory. The Bears ended the game going 0-4 on the power play and being outshot by Providence 32-30.
By Michael Fleetwood