By Don Scott
The Hershey Bears enjoyed an early second period lead of 3-0 and a 5-3 edge after 40 minutes, but ended up on the short end of a 7-6 shootout loss to the Providence Bruins, Wednesday night in Giant Center. The game was the franchise’s 6,000 th American Hockey League regular season contest.
Former Bears player Paul Carey and Brendan Woods, son of former Hershey player and coach Bob Woods, each had a goal and an assist in Providence’s comeback victory.
“It’s something about playing the Bears that brings out the best in me,” Carey said with a big smile. “We knew we were playing our best so if we could get things back in order and get our legs going we could make a game out of it. The energy in the building was great and it took us a while to feed off it but eventually, we did and were lucky to get that extra point.”
“I loved my time here,” continued Carey. “The organization treated everyone very well and I enjoyed the time I was here. I moved on but I have nothing but good things to say about playing here.”
Mike Sgarbossa’s power-play goal 11:45 into the tilt started the scoring, and three minutes later Brian Pinho had a chance on a penalty shot to increase the lead, but his shot hit the post to keep it 1-0 and that set up a wild seven-goal second period.
Pinho did score 52 seconds into the middle session and seven seconds later Joe Snively made it 3-0, before the Bruins regrouped when Woods and Joona Koppanen beat Pheonix Copley less than a minute apart.
Erik Burgdoerfer’s point shot eluded Max Lagace to make it a two-goal lead for the Bears at 7:21. Three minutes later, Urho Vaakanainen was left alone in the low slot for a power-play tally, then Philippe Maillet scored for his 100th AHL point to make it a 5-3 Bears lead going into the third period.
Carey scored at 2:41 on a wrap-around and eight minutes later Jakub Lauko tied it for the Bruins. It took just 27 seconds for Providence to take its first lead on the night on Oskar Steen’s goal then Snively scored his fifth of the season and second of the night at 16:06 to tie the game at 6-6.
“Copley had a tough time tonight and I’m not going to sugar coat it,” Hershey coach Spencer Carberry admitted. “He has played very well most games for us. I thought on the last two one was a good shot and the other was a 2-on-1 but we shouldn’t be giving those up late in a game.”
Neither team scored in the overtime to send it into the shootout. Sgarbossa scored in the second round, but Robert Lantosi and Jakub Lauko both tallied for Providence to provide them a 2-1 shootout edge for the 7-6 win.
Final shots on goal were 28-23 Bruins. Hershey’s power play finished the night 1-for-4 and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The Bears have now played 65 games all-time on Thanksgiving Eve, winning 32, losing 25, tying five, recording a point for an overtime loss in two, plus this shootout loss.
This was the fourth Thanksgiving Eve battle against the Providence Bruins, with the most recent pre-Turkey Day meeting on Nov. 25, 2015, in a 2-1 overtime Hershey win. The Bears’ first-ever Thanksgiving Eve matchup versus Providence was 51 years ago on Nov. 27, 1968, in a 3-2 loss to the Providence Reds.
Hershey returns to action on Saturday at 7 P.M. against the Belleville Senators coached by former Bears coach Troy Mann.