Vitek Vanecek made 17 of his 30 saves in the third period and Eddie Wittchow scored the only goal with 5:48 remaining Friday to give the Hershey Bears a 1-0 road victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Vanecek chalked up his 11th shutout to tie him in seventh place all-time in Hershey franchise history with Philipp Grubauer.
The fast-paced tilt took just two hours and four minutes to complete, and it remained scoreless until Wittchow’s fifth tally of the season.
In a scoreless opening period, the Bears had to kill two early penalties. Wittchow received two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting, and a ten minute misconduct at 6:33 of the first period.
Daniel Sprong served both Wittchow’s two-minute minor, as well as a Bears bench minor for too many men at 8:49. The Bears killed both Hartford power plays, and finished the night 3-for-3 on the kill.
Still scoreless in the third period, Shane Gersich forced a turnover then fed Brian Pinho behind the cage. Moving away from pressure, Pinho found Wittchow at the left point and his blast from the blue line clanged off the crossbar and deflected into the net for the game’s only goal.
The Wolf Pack had a 30-17 shot advantage while the 17 shots for the Bears was a new season-low.
The Bears record improved to 37-18-3-3 while handing Hartford only its fourth regulation loss on home ice this season. It was the fifth of six meetings between the Bears and Wolf Pack with the finale slated for Saturday night at the XL Center.
Each of the previous four meetings were also decided by one goal with two of the contests going to overtime. Both overtime decisions were won by the Bears on Dec. 1 and Jan. 18.
Vitek Vanecek is now 1-2-0 against the Wolf Pack this season. Pheonix Copley has won both his starts against Hartford with a 3.42 goals-against average.
Hershey, with 78 points, maintained a two-point edge over second-place Providence and three more than Hartford.