The Binghamton Devils entered Friday’s game having gone 0-5-2-1 in their last eight games, but that ended with 6-5 comeback victory over the Hershey Bears. Three of Binghamton’s losses in that eight-game streak came against Hershey.
The teams traded first period goals, then each scored three times in the middle stanza to head into the final 20 minutes deadlocked at 4-4.
Hershey took a 4-1 lead in the middle frame on a power play tally by Paul LaDue at 2:34, and ten minutes later Garrett Pilon beat goaltender Gilles Senn. Joe Snively made it 4-1 with less than five minutes remaining.
The Devils used their timeout to regroup and that’s exactly what they did. Jesper Boqvist started the comeback, followed by Fabian Zetterlund, and Boqvist again, with 55 seconds left on the clock to make it a 4-4 contest.
In the third period, Zetterlund gave the Devils a 5-4 lead at 3:28 and Ben Street’s power play score, his 200th professional goal, at 10:46 became the game-winner. Kody Clark’s power-play goal at 15:05 pulled Hershey to within 6-5, but the Devils held on the rest of the way.
The Bears were 2-for-7 on the power play, while Binghamton was 3-for-8.
Hershey goalie Pheonix Copley stopped 16 of 22 shots, and Gilles Senn 33 of the 38 he faced for the win.
Sunday’s game with the visiting Devils was another comeback game between the two teams, but this time it was the Bears who rallied late in regulation to force overtime. That was before Connor McMichael scored with one second remaining in the OT to steal a 3-2 victory for Hershey.
Binghamton got goals from Nolan Foote and Graeme Clarke in the losing effort. Clarke’s goal came at 3:00 of the second period, just 10 seconds after Garrett Pilon had tied the game 1-1 for the Bears.
In the middle stanza Hershey out-shot the Devils 23-6, which were four shots less than the franchise’s all-time record for shots in a period of 27. Despite all those opportunities, the Bears were still down 2-1 through 40 minutes of end-to-end action.
In the closing minutes of regulation goaltender Zach Fucale was pulled for an extra-attacker and Hershey appeared to have the tying goal with 1:13 left. Pilon fired a shot from the left point that Joe Snively deflected past goalie Evan Cormier. The goal was disallowed when the referee determined the puck was knocked in with a high stick.
McMichael’s first goal of the tilt did tie the game with 54 seconds left in regulation, then he scored the game-winner just under the wire as time ran out.
The winning effort was started by Fucale, who made a save and instead of covering the puck sent it to McMichael, who headed up ice. His first shot was blocked by Cormier, but he didn’t control it. Pilon grabbed the loose puck and fed McMichael in the slot for the shot that just beat the clock to claim the victory.
“In a big moment when you really need a goal all of a sudden the puck is on Connor’s stick and he found the soft spot and puts it in the net for the tie,” Hershey coach Spencer Carbery said about Washington’s first-round draft pick in 2019. “You can say lucky bounce or right place right time, but when it continues to come up to a certain player, that’s for a reason.
“When the game is on the line, Connor wants to be out there because he believes he will get the job done, and that’s a special quality to hav, because he wants to take that last shot,” added Carberry.
The goal was McMichael’s sixth of the season. Pilon picked up his third point of the game (1g, 2a) and Fucale earned his fourth career AHL assist.
Hershey out-shot the Devils 51-28 in the win. The Bears were 0-for-1 on the power play while the club’s penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4. Fucale (4-1-0-1) made 26 saves.
The Bears (8-4-2-0) are back in action on Wednesday at Lehigh Valley, then host Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday with a 1 p.m. faceoff at Giant Center.
Hershey defenseman Paul LaDue skated in his 200th professional game, coming off scoring his first goal as a Bear in Friday’s contest at Binghamton. He has played 69 NHL games with Los Angeles and 131 AHL games with Ontario and Hershey.
In Friday’s game, Eddie Wittchow returned to the lineup after missing ten games with a lower-body injury. It was his first game since Feb. 11, when he was injured in Hershey’s second game of the season at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Hershey forward Kody Clark and Binghamton forward Nolan Foote each had multi-point games in Friday’s contest. The players are connected as well. Before either was born their fathers played together in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques during the 1994-95 season. Kody’s father, NHL legend Wendel Clark, joined Quebec that season after coming over in a blockbuster trade from Toronto. Nolan’s father, Adam Foote, was a second-round draft pick of Quebec in 1989. He went on to win two Stanley Cups in his career.