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The Hershey Bears claimed a 4-3 victory over the visiting Toronto Marlies on Friday, then lost a late-game 1-0 decision to the visiting Providence Bruins in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,520 at Giant Center.

Mason Morelli scored twice and Zach Fucale made a penalty shot save in Friday’s game to lead Hershey (34-13-5-2) to the win over Toronto (37-15-2-1) to open a three-point lead on the idle Providence Bruins for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bears are now only two points back of the North Division-leading Marlies for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, with a game in hand.

Goalie Zach Fucale came up with a big save on Alex Steeves at 4:45 of the first period to prevent the Marlies from striking early that ended as a scoreless one.

The Bears got on the scoreboard early in the second stanza when Morelli tallied his tenth of the season at 2:20, when he gathered Logan Day’s rebound and backhanded it between the post and the skate of Keith Petruzzelli. Mike Vecchione earned a secondary assist on the goal.

Hershey went up 2-0 just 31 seconds later when Aaron Ness fed the puck to Mike Sgarbossa, who skated up the left wing and ripped a shot off the post and in for his 19th of the season and 50th point of the campaign.

The Marlies finally broke through in the third period when Marc Johnstone took advantage of a turnover in the slot and beat Fucale at 4:28 to make the score 3-1.

Toronto’s Kyle Clifford was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot at 4:51 to give the Marlies a chance to pull to within one, but Fucale made the key pad save to improve to three-for-three on penalty shots this season.

With the Bears on the power play, Morelli deflected Connor McMichael’s shot from the point behind Petruzzelli for his second of the night at 12:34 to make it 4-1, with Sgarbossa earning a secondary helper.

The Marlies pushed back with a goal from Pontus Holmberg at 14:41 and Johnstone scored at 19:51 with Petruzzelli pulled for an extra skater, but the Bears prevented Toronto from finding a tying score.

“Toronto has a very good team and we knew when we went up 3-0 after two periods they would make a push, and we started well but they made some nice plays to score twice but we got the two points and that’s what is important,” said Fucale. “We have to go into our next game with a playoff mentality that we‘ve been doing lately but I feel we are on a real good stretch right now to finish in the one or two division positions for the playoffs.”

Shots finished at 31-25 in favor of the Bears. The Bears were 1-for-5 on the power play and the Marlies finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

Bears Notes:

Joe Snively scored his 100th point. His first AHL point versus Providence on Mar. 30, 2019, came when he scored the game-winning goal in his AHL debut in a 2-1 victory over the Bruins at Giant Center. 

Mike Sgarbossa had a goal and an assist and now has scored a team-best 51 points. He’s Hershey’s first 50-point scorer since 2018-19 when Sgarbossa (65 points), Riley Barber (60 points), and Aaron Ness (55 points) all achieved that milestone.

With 34 wins this season, the Bears have matched their win total for the entire 2021-22 campaign.

Hershey’s Magic Number to clinch a playoff berth is 20.

The Washington Capitals announced that defensemen Gabriel Carlsson and Vincent Iorio were recalled from Hershey. The Capitals also loaned defenseman Dylan McIlrath to Hershey.

In Saturday’s fast-paced game that took a record 2:11 to play, the Hershey Bears (34-14-5-2) allowed only 11 shots for another new franchise record, but still fell by a 1-0 decision to the Providence Bruins (32-12-8-2) on Saturday night in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,520. Providence netminder Kyle Keyser turned aside 22 shots from the Bears in a shutout performance.

Hershey remains one point ahead of the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division, with one more game played. Hershey is now 1-2-0-0 against Providence this season, with two games upcoming next weekend, and three in total remaining between the division foes.

Through the first two periods, both Hunter Shepard and Keyser battled in net for Hershey and Providence respectively, as the Bears out shot the Bruins 16-9.

After 40 minutes, Shepard had turned aside all nine shots he had faced, including a breakaway stop by Eduards Tralmaks at 16:46 of the second frame.

The Bruins broke through on their tenth shot of the contest at 13:37 of the third period when Marc McLaughlin redirected a shot from Chris Wagner past Shepard to put Providence up 1-0.

“It was disappointing for us because I thought we carried the play but we didn’t get enough pucks to the net and then we tried to be too fancy on some two-on-ones, but that’s hockey and feel we should’ve had another ten shots on net,” said Hershey coach Todd Nelson. “We knew what we were facing and had chances to score but we just didn’t, it was that simple.”

The Bears pulled Shepard with less than two minutes remaining in regulation in an attempt to tie the score but were unable to score.

Shots finished 22-11 in favor of the Bears; the 11 shots against broke the previous franchise record of 12 (Oct. 14, 2016 at Rochester). The Bears were 0-for-4 on the power play; the Bruins finished 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

Hershey continues the 2022-23 season when the Chocolate and White visit the Providence Bruins on Saturday, March 11 at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. They return to Giant Center where they will host the Rochester Americans for Hall of Fame Night and Print Works On Demand Poster Night on Saturday, March 18 at 7 p.m. 

Bears Notes:

Hershey remains one point ahead of the Bruins for first place in the Atlantic Division, with one more game played. Hershey is now 1-2-0-0 against Providence this season, with two games upcoming next weekend, and three in total remaining between the division foes.

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