BY JULIE BEIDLER
HERSHEY - For the first time in four years, the Hershey Bears dropped their home opener. The Belleville Senators, formerly the Binghamton Senators, notched their first win of the season with a 5-2 victory at Giant Center on Saturday evening.
Ethan Werek scored a pair of goals to help the Senators improve to 1-3-0-0 on the season. Meanwhile, Hershey fell to 0-2-0-0 with a rematch of their season opener against Lehigh Valley on tap for Sunday night in Hershey.
Chandler Stephenson got the Bears off on the right foot with a power-play goal at the 4:22 mark of the first period, as Gabriel Gagne and Christian Jaros were both serving minor penalties. Lucas Johansen and Travis Boyd earned assists.
Werek tied it late in the first period and got the go-ahead goal early in the second, while Hershey rookie Connor Hobbs was serving a minor penalty for holding. Former Bear Erik Burgdoerfer earned an assist on the goal.
Chris Bourque tied the game just 37 seconds later for Hershey, with Boyd earning the assist. But Belleville scored a mere 17 seconds later to regain the lead.
Then early in the third, another former Bear, Jim O’Brien, earned assisted on Belleville’s fourth goal of the game. Belleville would get a fifth goal, an empty netter, before the final buzzer sounded.
Bear net-minder Parker Milner, once again subbing for injured regulars Vitek Vanecek and Pheonix Copley, stopped 30 of 34 shots.
“Adversity right off the hop. Most teams go through some form of adversity throughout the season. I can’t remember too many teams starting the season with their 5th and 6th guy in the organization,” said Hershey Head Coach Troy Mann. “Vitek got hurt that first preseason game and Copley has been battling with his injury.”
Hershey was 1 for 7 on the power play, and 5 for 6 on the penalty kill. Tyler Lewington was assessed his second fighting penalty of the season after he and Max McCormick dropped the gloves late in the third period.
Belleville’s next game is Friday, October 20 at Hartford. The Senators have yet to play at home. Hershey’s puck drop on Sunday is scheduled for 5 p.m..
What we’ve learned - Injuries right out of the gate and a number of rookies have not helped Hershey so far this season. But the Bears have made some improvements from last Saturday to this Saturday. Unfortunately in what is arguably the most difficult division in the AHL, it’s going to be tough to remain patient.
Who’s hot - Travis Boyd earned Hershey’s only game honors, second star. He had a pair of assists on the night.
Quotable - “When it comes to Bowey, I was real excited for him to get his opportunity. Obviously our youth on our defense, we’ve got four rookies, and two third-year guys who are kind of anchoring it back there and Bowey’s one of them. Next thing you know he’s gone. Then when you don’t have your Number One and Number Two goalie it doesn’t make it any easier.” – Hershey Head Coach Troy Mann.
The road ahead - Hershey hosts Lehigh Valley on Sunday night at five o’clock. They then head west for games in Milwaukee Friday at 8 p.m., Grand Rapids Saturday at 7 p.m., and Rockford Sunday at 5 p.m..
Three Takeaways -
Parker Milner has allowed 10 goals and currently has a 5.08 GAA.
Tyler Lewington has already been in two fights in the first two games. The AHL imposes a penalty after the 10th fight of the regular season.
None of Hershey’s skaters currently have a positive +/- after two games.