Bears Rally Late, But Fall To Thunderbirds, 4-3 In Overtime

Photo; Springfield Thunderbirds

The Hershey Bears fell to the Springfield Thunderbirds, 4-3 (OT) Friday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. The loss drops the Bears record to 26-20-4-3 (59 points) on the season.

The Thunderbirds opened the scoring with a tally from Sam Anas midway through the opening frame and held the 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

The Bears would tie the game early in the middle frame on Garrett Pilon’s 14th goal of the season, but the T-Birds would answer late in the frame. James Neal would pot his 5th goal of the season for a 2-1 lead at the second intermission.

Neal would score on a 5-on-3 power play to stretch the T-Birds lead to 3-1 early in the final frame. But this time the Bears would rally late. Cody Franson would score two goals in the final 1:10 of regulation to send the game to overtime.

James Neal would notch the overtime game-winner and complete the hat trick for the 4-3 T-Birds victory.


The Bears started goaltender Pheonix Copley (13-8-2-2, 2.37 GAA, .911 sv%) in net while the Thunderbirds countered with Charlie Lindgren (14-3-1-0, 2.29 GAA, .922 sv%) in goal. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Injuries: Lucas Johansen (upper-body injury), Brian Pinho (upper-body injury), Macoy Erkamps (lower-body injury), Mike Sgarbossa (upper-body injury), Matt Moulson (back surgery), Kale Kessy (upper-body injury).

Re-assigned: On Wednesday the Bears re-assigned Drake Rymsha to the Fort Wayne Comets (ECHL). The also released Nick Isaacson from his PTO. He returned to the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL).

Re-called: Axel Jonsson-Fjallby was recalled by the Capitals on Friday.


The Bears tied the game early in the second period on a spinning backhander by Garrett Pilon (14). Pilon would make a nice steal in the offensive zone, spin and roof the backhander. Mason Morelli (15) and Shane Gersich (15) had the helpers.

The Bears were awarded 41 seconds of 5-on-3 time with 6:39 remaining in the middle frame but were unable to capitalize.

The Thunderbirds would retake the lead when James Neal (5) got behind the Bears defense at 17:51 of the period. Sam Anas (29) and Steven Santini (13) had the assists.

The period would conclude with the T-Birds leading 2-1. Springfield doubled-up the shots on the Bears, 16-8 in the middle frame. Hershey was 0 for 3 and Springfield 0 for 1 on the power play after two periods.


The Thunderbirds stretched their lead to 3-1 on a 5-on-3 power play goal from James Neal (6), his second tally of the game. Matthew Peca (26) and Calle Rosen (19) had the helpers.

But this time the Bears would rally. Cody Franson would score a pair of long-distance bombs in the final 1:10 of regulation to tie the game. First, a blast from the blueline at 18:52.

Franson would tie the game with another bomb from the point with just 13 seconds remaining in regulation.

Regulation would end with the game tied 3-3.


The T-Birds would win it 20 seconds into the extra frame as James Neal would complete the hat trick.

The Bears are back in action on Saturday when they visit the Wolf Pack in Hartford. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 4,912
  • The Bears entered tonight’s game holding just a 3-7-0-0 record over the past 10 games.
  • The Bears have scored just 21 goals over the last 10 games and over the team’s last five losses, Hershey has posted a total of just three goals.


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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