The Hershey Bears made history on Tuesday morning, finally recording the franchise’s 3,000th victory, a 4-3 overtime win over the Bridgeport Islanders in the Total Mortgage Arena. The result ended Hershey’s seven-game road losing streak gave the Bears two important division-points, while improving the club’s record to 31-26-5-4.
Formed in 1938-39, Hershey is the only American Hockey League team still playing under its original name to record 3,000 victories, and only the fifth professional hockey franchise to accomplish the feat. Only four of the National Hockey League’s Original Six, Montreal Canadiens (3,492), Boston Bruins (3,285), Toronto Maple Leafs (3,045), and Detroit Red Wings (3,015), have attained that level.
The Bears opened the scoring at 1:38 of the first period when Kody Clark ripped a shot past Bridgeport goaltender Cory Schneider, who was screened by Drake Rymsha.
The Islanders scored twice in the middle stanza to take 2-1 lead going into the third period. Kyle MacLean finished a tic-tac-toe passing play off the rush at 10:28, and then Jeff Kubiak tallied his eighth goal of the season at 16:13 for Bridgeport.
Forced to play come-from-behind hockey on the road again, Hershey’s Eddie Wittchow scored his first goal of the campaign at 4:28, on a three-on-two rush with Marcus Vela and Cody Franson, who got the helpers.
Brett Leason generated his fourth goal of the season at 9:57 to give Hershey their second lead of the day. Aliaksei Protas and Alex Alexeyev earned the helpers as Leason wired a shot into the net from the right-wing.
Before regulation expired, Chris Terry scored his 25th goal of the season at 15:15 to knot the contest at 3-3.
In the overtime, Clark scored again with a dramatic goal that will go down in the Hershey Bears and AHL history books. Setup by Beck Malenstyn and Lucas Johansen, Clark beat Schneider with a perfect backhander between the leg pads at 2:13.
Final shots on goal totaled 41-28 Hershey. The Bears went 0-for-4 on the power play and were not whistled for a single penalty.
The Bears return to action on Friday, April 4 at Lehigh Valley to start three games in three nights. On Saturday and Sunday, Springfield will visit Giant Center.
The last time the Bears skated in an early morning contest, the Chocolate and White earned a 3-0 victory at Toronto on Apr. 4, 2019.
Hershey’s remaining schedule does not see them leave the state of Pennsylvania and the team has no overnight trips remaining.