The Hershey Bears fell behind the Providence Bruins 2-0 in Wednesday’s annual Thanksgiving Eve game, then came storming back to pick up a 4-3 overtime victory, much to the delight of the 8,549 fans in attendance at Giant Center.
Mason Morelli’s game-winning goal marked his first in a Bears uniform. The tally required video review to confirm the outcome, as the Chocolate and White improved to 8-5-2-1 on the season.
Providence’s 2-0 lead came on a late first-period strike from Cameron Hughes, at 18:07, and a Steven Fogarty five-on-three power-play goal at 6:50 of the middle period.
A shorthanded, unassisted goal by Joe Snively, his seventh tally in the last seven games, at 11:19, turned the tilt’s play around and created momentum that carried over into the third period.
“I felt like I got the defenseman in a tight spot and I could poke it away and fortunately found the back of the net,” said Snively, about his key effort. “On the game winner, to be honest, I couldn’t really tell if the puck hit the upper part of the net, but because of the video review it showed that’s what happened.”
The third period saw Hershey put a pair of goals on the board, in less than 90 seconds, by Garrett Pilon on a power play only 29 seconds into the period, and Shane Gersich taking a cross-ice pass from Mason Morelli at 1:22, to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
Jack Ahcan scored for the P-Bruins at 17:59 to even the score at 3-3 and force sudden-death overtime.
“We felt we were playing well, but we needed to stick to our game in the third and fortunately we got the power-play goal early, then Gersich scored shortly after that,” said Snively. “But the late game penalty I took that led to them pulling even at 3-3 on the power play was a case of my emotions got the best of me.”
Morelli’s winner came off a rebound of Michal Kempny’s shot at 2:41 of the OT period.
Final shots on goal totaled 32-25 Hershey. The Bears finished the night one-for-six on the power play and seven-for-nine on the penalty kill.
Hershey is on the road on Friday with a 7:05 p.m. start against the Rochester Americans, then hosts Lehigh Valley on Sunday at 5 p.m. in Giant Center.
Bears Notes: Counting this game, Hershey has played 66 all-time on Thanksgiving Eve, winning 33, losing 25, tying five, falling in overtime twice, and losing one in a shootout.
Hershey’s last win on Thanksgiving Eve was a 4-0 triumph over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Nov. 23, 2016.
The Bears’ first ever Thanksgiving Eve matchup against a Providence franchise was 53 years ago’ on Nov. 27, 1968, in a 3-2 loss to the Providence Reds.