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BY DON SCOTT

The Hartford Wolf Pack scored late in the first and third periods to claim a 2-1 win over the Hershey Bears Wednesday night at Giant Center, to take a four-point lead over the second-place Bears in the American Hockey League’s Atlantic Division standings.

Vinni Lettieri scored at 19:06 to move the Wolf Pack past the Bears and end Hershey’s four-game winning streak and drop its overall record to 21-11-2-3.

Hartford scored the only first period goal at the 18:26 mark. Boo Nieves scored his fourth goal of the season converting a pass from Ryan Gropp. Shots after 20 minutes were 10-5 Hershey.

In the middle period, Hershey pulled even when Philippe Maillet extended his point streak to four games pushing the puck past Wolf Pack goaltender Adam Huska at 15:59 with Erik Burgdoerfer getting the only helper. Shots after 40 minutes were 17-11 Hershey. 

Shane Gersich had a semi-breakaway early in the third period but Huska made the save to keep the teams deadlocked.

Tied at 1-1, and heading to an apparent overtime session, Lettieri beat Vitek Vanecek five-hole for the game-winning goal at 19:06. Final shots were 27-15 Bears.

“It’s a fine line between winning and losing games in this league,” said Hershey head coach Spencer Carberry. “We made a few more mistakes than they did. I thought we did a good job tonight of generating possession in the offensive zone but not on getting shots through from up top. We’ll go right back to work on that tomorrow.”

Hershey’s special teams finished 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Whistles were at a premium, because there was just one puck used in each of the first two periods and only one off-side called in the third period, which helped account for the game lasting just two hours and three minutes.

The Bears return to action on Friday, Jan. 10 when they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Saturday at 7 p.m. the Cleveland Monsters come to Giant Center for their only trip to Chocolate Town. this season.

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