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Despite a season-best four goals just in 12:49 and leads of 4-0 and 5-1, the Hershey Bears (17-5-2-1) only managed one point during a 6-5 shootout loss to the Cleveland Monsters (11-8-1-2) on Sunday night at Giant Center.

Despite the defeat, the Bears finished the week with seven of a possible eight points, and remain atop both the Atlantic Division and American Hockey League standings.

The Bears opened the scoring when Kale Kessy put pressure on Monsters goaltender Pavel Cajan, after the net minder had attempted to cover the puck following a shot from the point by Michael Kim. Kessy managed to slide the puck through the equipment of Cajan and at 2:25 for his second of the season.

Kim, who was making his Bears debut and Riley Sutter, earned the assists.

Hershey’s Mike Vecchione made it 2-0 with his tenth of the season when he took a feed from Logan Day in the slot and whipped a shot past Cajan at 3:22. Michael Sgarbossa also received a secondary assist, giving him a six-game point streak (4g, 6a).

Kessy and Brett Gallant squared off at 14:11 in a spirited bout, and riding the momentum of the altercation, the Bears extended the lead to 3-0 at 14:47. Ethen Frank tallied his eighth of the season after he joined Jake Massie on a give-and-go and knocked Massie’s rebound through the legs of Cajan.

Aaron Ness picked up a secondary assist.

Hershey widened its lead to 4-0 when Mason Morelli raced up the left wing and sent the puck around the Monsters net to the right corner where Sam Anas fed Connor McMichael, who sent a backhander past a sprawled Cajan at 4:37 for his third of the season.

At 6:57, Josh Dunne beat Hershey goalie Zach Fucale with to get the Monsters on the board.

McMichael struck again in the second frame, this time on the power play at 4:37, when he received a cross-ice pass from Vecchione and wristed a shot from the right circle to restore the four-goal edge.

David Jiricek countered for the Monsters on a delayed penalty that beat Fucale at 6:25 to make it 5-2.

Gallant pulled the Monsters to within two goals at 10:37 when he redirected a pass from Samuel Knazko on net that beat a stick-less Fucale to the glove side.

Brendan Gaunce stuffed the puck into the net on another Cleveland power play at 12:55 and Dunne scored his second of the night at 17:48 on another opportunity with the man advantage to complete Cleveland’s comeback and tie the game at 5-5.

The score remained tied through the end of regulation, and overtime yielded no decision, sending Hershey to its third shootout of the season.

The Bears elected to shoot second. Both Trey Fix-Wolansky and McMichael scored in the first round, and the goaltenders each went save-for-save over the next three rounds, before Dunne scored in the top of the fourth round.

Needing a goal to keep the Bears alive, Vecchione’s shot was stopped by Cajan to give the Monsters the 6-5 victory.

“Yes, I’m disappointed about the final outcome, but getting seven of eight points this week isn’t a bad thing and I’ll take that every time, plus Providence lost so we’re still at the top of the standings,” Hershey coach Todd Nelson said. “Championship teams keep playing, and that’s our goal, but it is human nature at times to think it is going to be OK the rest of the game, but it isn’t and they just out-worked us.”

Shots finished 35-33 favoring Cleveland. The Bears were one-for-two on the power play and the Monsters went two-for-four with the man advantage.

The Bears face the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in two road games at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday and Saturday, then return to Giant Center to host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Sunday, Dec. 18 at 5 p.m. 

Bears Notes:

Hershey’s 17 wins at the 25-game mark is the second-most in franchise history, just behind the 1957-58 and 1946-47 Bears squads, which had matching 18-5-2 records.

The Washington Capitals announced that the club has recalled defensemen Lucas Johansen and Dylan McIlrath from Hershey. 

*** For a chance to win two free tickets to an upcoming Bears’ home game, email your name, email address, home address and phone number to  dscottsports@comcast.net to be entered in a random drawing. A drawing for two tickets will take place each week. You must send a separate email to enter each week of the season. Previous winners will not be considered.

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