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BY DON SCOTT

On Wednesday night at Giant Center, Syracuse rookie goaltender Amir Miftakhov, making his first AHL start, gave up a goal on the initial shot he faced 1:11 into the contest and a second one 11 minutes later, then blanked the Hershey Bears the rest of the way, for a 3-2 overtime victory.

Hershey’s Axel Jonsson-Fjallby opened the scoring with a shot from the left wing on an offensive rush. Matt Moulson made it 2-0 Bears at 12:31, when he deflected a shot by defensemen Cody Franson into the net.

Shots on goal after 20 minutes were 18-12 Hershey. 

But Syracuse responded with power play goals in the second and third periods.

At 4:35 of the middle stanza, the Crunch’s Jimmy Huntington batted the puck out of mid air from between the circles. Then, with 1:07 remaining in the third period, Syracuse’s Gabriel Dumont made it 2-2 to send the game into overtime.

Miftakhov made a game-saving stop for the Crunch seconds before Charles Hudon got loose on breakaway chance to beat Pheonix Copley at 4:46 to grab the 3-2 comeback win.

“We played a solid 20 minutes in the first period, then it fell off,” Bears coach Scott Allen said. “We had some scoring chances in the second and third periods, but they stuck to their guns and played a 60-minute game and got the win.”

Final shots on goal totaled 40-31 Syracuse. Hershey’s special teams finished 0-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill. 

The Bears return to action on Saturday at 7 p.m. for the first of back-to-back meetings against the Cleveland Monsters.

Bears Notes:

Hershey had won 12 straight games at Giant Center, dating back to the 2020-21 season. 

Franson played in his 900th professional game , a career that includes 550 NHL games, plus 226 in the AHL, and 124 overseas.

Hershey’s Mike Sgarbossa played in his 500th pro game with 445 AHL games, 133 with the Bears, and 55 more in the NHL.

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