Wednesday’s home contest against visiting the Lehigh Valley Phantoms was a make-up of a contest originally scheduled for Nov. 28 and postponed due to COVID-19 protocol issues. When it was all said and done, it ended with Hershey scoring a 4-3 victory in overtime.
Joe Snively scored the initial and final goals in the contest, one that saw the Bears enjoy a 3-0 lead, before the Phantoms rallied to pull even with 17 seconds remaining in regulation to force another overtime outing for the Bears.
Snively’s goal 17 seconds into the tilt came when he shoved a centering pass from Garrett Pilon past Lehigh Valley goalie Pat Nagle. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby recorded the secondary assist on the early play.
“We came out strong again, scoring just 17 seconds in and again I felt we did a lot of good things and they did not quit,” Hershey coach Scott Allen said. “Would I have liked a better end result in regulation? Yes, one hundred percent, but again we’re going to learn from these situations and be better for it.”
Shane Gersich doubled Hershey’s lead at the five-minute mark when he shoved a loose puck laying in the crease over the goal line. Drake Rymsha started the play and Dylan McIlrath earned the secondary helper for his 100th career pro point.
Shots on goal were 15-4 Hershey, and the Bears had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Jonsson-Fjallby forced a Phantoms mistake at 7:45 of the second period to put the Bears up 3-0. The score occurred when Nagle left the crease and mishandled the puck, and that allowed Jonsson-Fjallby to hit an empty net.
The Phantoms broke Zach Fucale’s shutout bid with Linus Sandin’s first goal of the season at 16:02.
Charlie Gerard scored 42 seconds into the third period for Lehigh Valley, and teammate Egor Zamula beat Fucale from the point at 19:43, with Nagle on the bench for the extra-attacker.
“I give credit to them because they are a tough team to play against and actually are similar to the way we play, so when you have two teams that play a similar style and they meet that’s usually your toughest opponent,” Allen said “We wanted to play closer to a complete game, but we still have room for improvement, there’s no doubt about it.”
Hershey needed just 57 seconds into the overtime for Snively to find a loose puck in the crease to claim victory. Final shots on goal totaled 34-21 Hershey. The Bears went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Hershey’s record advanced to 16-9-2-1 and Fucale is now 6-2-2.
Hershey captain Matt Moulson underwent successful back surgery on December 30 and will be sidelined indefinitely.
The Capitals recalled Mike Sgarbossa and assigned him to their taxi squad. Additionally, the Bears re-assigned goaltender Ryan Bednard to the South Carolina Stingrays, and also released forward Vladislav Mikhalchuk from his professional tryout.
Hershey started this game with a 5-2 record in overtime, and a 1-1 mark in shootouts. Hershey’s five wins in the 3-on-3 contests are the most in the league. Overall, Hershey has collected 15 points in overtime games, the most of any team in the AHL. The club’s nine games that have gone beyond regulation is the second highest total in the AHL, trailing only the Cleveland Monsters’ 10 overtime contests.
The Bears play a pair of home games against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Jan. 8 and 9, and will look to keep the wins coming versus its I-81 rival. The Chocolate and White are 5-0-0-0 against the Baby Pens, marking the first time in franchise history the Bears have won the first five games of the season series. Hershey has outscored Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 25-8 this year, including 14-4 in two games at GIANT Center.