The Hershey Bears moved into third place in the Atlantic Division of the American Hockey League, with a 2-1 overtime win over the visiting Springfield Thunderbirds Saturday night at Giant Center. The result Hershey’s winning streak to seven games.
It was another scoreless first period, but it was also another contest that saw the Bears score first, when Matt Moulson tallied his ninth goal of the season by tipping Martin Fehervary’s shot past Springfield goaltender Samuel Montembeault, to give the Bears a 1-0 lead at 13:28 of period two. Liam O’Brien started the play for his eighth helper of the season.
Springfield drew even on their first power-play chance of the night. Hershey’s Axel Jonsson-Fjallby was penalized for elbowing at 16:53 and Springfield’s Henrik Borgstrom fired a shot off the goal post and past Vitek Vanecek at 18:35 for the equalizer.
The Bears’ penalty killers rose to the occasion with two successful kills in the third period and Vanecek made 13 saves to set up the overtime 3-on-3 period.
“When you’re not playing your best, that’s when you need your goaltender to make the difference and Vitek did that several times for us,” said Hershey coach Spence Barberry. “I don’t know if it was the week off, but the third was probably our worst period of the game.”
“Give them credit because they were defending well and we just couldn’t string together two-three passes through the neutral zone, ” continued Barberry. “We’d make one when it looked like we had something, then fan on it and that usually happens to four or five guys, but tonight it was like 17. It was just one of those nights where we could not find pucks so we will regroup and do a better job tomorrow.”
In the overtime, Jonsson-Fjallby made up for Springfield’s goal when he was in the sin bin. Brett Leason fed him with less than a minute remaining and he ripped a wrist shot past Montembeault for the game-winner and his seventh of the year.
Tyler Lewington started the play that helped the Bears improve to 15-9-2-3.
Final shots on goal were 39-28 Bears. Hershey special teams finished 0-for-2 on the power play, snapping a streak of four straight games with a power-play goal, and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The Bears return to action Sunday in a rare 1 p.m. rematch against Springfield before breaking for the Christmas holiday.