Bears Clinch Playoff Spot, Connor McMichael Extends Points Streak To Seven Games, As Bears Down Crunch, 4-1

Photo: Syracuse Crunch

The Hershey Bears downed the Syracuse Crunch, 4-1 Saturday night at the Upstate Medical University Arena in Syracuse, New York. Shane Gersich opened the scoring in the first frame with his 6th goal of the season, Mike Sgarbossa added his 20th goal of the season in the middle frame and Julian Napravnik added his fourth goal of the season in the final frame. Connor McMichael extended his points streak to seven games.

The victory improves the Bears record to 38-16-5-3 (84 points) on the season and clinches a playoff spot for the 70th time in franchise history. They become the second team to clinch an AHL postseason berth.


Hunter Shepard (15-6-5-1, 2.18 GAA, .914 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the visiting Bears. Hugo Alnefelt (15-9-1-3, 2.53 GAA, .912 sv%) got the start in goal for the Crunch. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:

Mike Vecchione – Mike Sgarbossa – Ethen Frank
Joe Snively – Connor McMichael – Julian Napravnik
Mason Morelli – Hendrix Lapierre – Garrett Pilon
Beck Malenstyn – Riley Sutter – Shane Gersich

Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Bobby Nardella – Aaron Ness
Lucas Johansen – Vincent Iorio

Scratches:  Jake Massie, Sam Anas, Henrik Borgstrom (upper body injury), Logan Day, Bogdan Trineyev, Henrik Rybinski and Matt Strome.

Recalls/Re-assignments: Zach Fucale and Gabriel Carlsson were re-assigned from Washington to Hershey on Thursday. Benton Maass and Clay Stevenson were re-assigned from Hershey to ECHL South Carolina on Friday.


The Bears opened the scoring with a goal from Shane Gersich (6) at 10:16 of the first period. Beck Malenstyn (3) had the lone assist.

Bears netminder Hunter Shepard made several nice stops in the first frame, keeping the Crunch off the scoreboard.

The first period concluded with the Bears holding onto the 1-0 lead. Shots were tied 9-9 in the first frame. Hershey was 0 for 2 on the power play while the Crunch did not have a man advantage in the first period.


The Bears extended their lead to 2-0 early in the second period. Mike Sgarbossa stole a puck at center ice and finished for his 20th goal of the season at 5:17 of the middle frame.

Dylan McIlrath and Daniel Walker dropped the gloves late in the second period.

The Crunch finally got on the scoreboard with 56 seconds remaining in the second period. Daniel Walcott (11) notched the tally, assisted by Gabriel Fortier (16) and Jack Thompson (13).

And that was it for the middle frame.


The Bears regained their two-goal lead on Julian Napravnik’s fourth goal of the season. Gabriel Carlsson (13) and Connor McMichael (19) had the helpers. The assist extended McMichael’s consecutive game scoring streak to seven games.

Mike Vecchione added an empty net goal late to make it 4-1, and that would be the final.


  • AHL box score
  • Attendance: 6,230
  • The Bears clinch a playoff berth for 70th time in franchise history.

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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13 Responses to Bears Clinch Playoff Spot, Connor McMichael Extends Points Streak To Seven Games, As Bears Down Crunch, 4-1

  1. novafyre says:

    Stingrays beat Maine 7-3 going out 6-0 and then holding on for the win. Tyler Wall turned away 20 shots. Bear had a goal on 3 shots, Kim had an assist and 3 sog. Maass played, Clay was backup. Rematch tomorrow. Teams in the other divisions have started clinching playoff spots but the South is just too bunched up.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Go Bears!

  3. Anonymous says:

    That’s how you finish a game. Add a goal early in the third.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I feel like they got the makings for a deep run this year.

  5. Anonymous says:

    70th playoffs. That’s absurd

  6. Jon Sorensen says:

  7. Anonymous says:

    Getting hard and harder to scratch Napravnik

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