BY JULIE BEIDLER
HERSHEY - After going the distance and then some in a 7-6 shootout loss in Rochester Friday night, the Bears returned to Giant Center Saturday for a match-up with the North Division-leading Toronto Marlies, looking to keep up the momentum they’d been building. But the Marlies, who were off last night, had other ideas and earned a 4-1 victory at Giant Center.
Things went from bad to worse early on for the Bears, who were on the wrong side of a 2-0 deficit when Connor Hobbs, Garrett Mitchell, and Colby Williams all went down the tunnel in the first period. Mitchell was the first to return and put Hershey within a goal when he scored with 49 seconds to go in the first period, as he was falling down.
Williams returned for the start of the second period, but a third blue-liner, Tyler Lewington, made his way down the tunnel in some obvious discomfort. He would later return as well, but Hershey head coach Troy Mann told the media in the post-game press conference that he was told Hobbs was sent for x-rays on an upper body injury.
Meanwhile, the Bears battled through a scoreless second period only to see Toronto add two more goals in the third for the 4-1 victory.
Hershey heads to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for a 3:05 start Sunday against the Atlantic Division leaders.
On the night, Hershey’s power play, which has been hot of late, went 0-for-6. The Bears penalty kill went 6-for-7.
Adam Carlson took the loss in net for the Bears, stopping 31 of 35 shots.
What we’ve learned - The Bears blueline took some serious knocks Saturday night. Hershey was down one, sometimes two defensemen for most of the game. Paul Geiger was a healthy scratch Saturday, so the Bears will be able to dress six tomorrow night regardless of the outcome of the Hobbs injury.
Who’s hot - Chris Bourque put forth a five-point effort Friday night in Rochester.
Quotable - “Well, I just told the guys they get an extra hour of sleep tonight. This whole weekend schedule-wise was tough for us,” said Mann. “Wilkes-Barre didn’t play tonight as well…not a great weekend for the Bears in terms of scheduling, but we’ll get our breaks, like I say, later on in the season.”
The road ahead - Hershey is in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tomorrow. They are in Springfield Wednesday before hosting Lehigh Valley Saturday and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Sunday.
Three Stars -
Smith – Toronto
Marchment – Toronto
Garrett Mitchell – Hershey