On Friday, the Hershey Bears started another three games in three days with a 3-1 road loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Saturday it was a 2-1 overtime win over the Penguins, followed by a 5-3 comeback triumph over the visiting Lehigh Valley Phantoms at Giant Center.
Gabriel Carlsson scored his first of the season, but it was also the only goal Hershey would get in Friday’s 3-1 loss to the WB/S Penguins in that ended Hershey’s five-game road win streak.
Despite the loss, the Bears maintained their hold on first place in the Atlantic Division and the American Hockey League standings following a 5-4 overtime loss by the Providence Bruins to Lehigh Valley.
Jonathan Gruden gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead at 4:57 of the opening period when he tipped a shot from the point past the glove of Hershey netminder Zach Fucale.
Tyler Sikura made it a 2-0 edge at 8:37 when his shot from the left circle found its way through Fucale into the net.
At 3:48 of the third period, Sam Houde made it 3-0 when he carried the puck around the net to the left post and stuffed it past a sprawled Fucale.
At 19:10 of the third period, Hershey finally broke Penguins goaltender Dustin Tokarski’s shutout effort on Carlsson’s wrister from the left point. Mike Vecchione earned the lone assists on the tally.
Shots finished 30-26 favoring Hershey. The Bears were 0-for-4 on the power play and the Penguins went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
This was the first time the Bears had back-to-back road games at Mohegan Sun Arena in the regular season.
In Saturday’s tilt against the Penguins, Mike Sgarbossa scored twice to give the Bears (18-6-2-1) a 2-1 overtime win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (13-6-2-2). The victory gave the Bears a split of their two-game road series against the Penguins.
Hershey took a 1-0 lead 8:11 into the initial period on an offensive rush when Mike Vecchione passed the puck to Gabriel Carlsson in the neutral zone who moved it to Sgarbossa. He skated to the edge of the left circle and sent a low wrist shot through the pads of Filip Lindberg for his eighth of the season.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton pulled even at 1-1 at the 18:48 mark of the second period when the Penguins recovered the puck after Clay Stevenson made an attempt to handle the puck behind the net.
Alex Nylander managed to slip the disc through Stevenson as the goaltender was getting back in position along the right post for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Teddy Bear toss goal. The resulting cleanup prompted the remaining 1:12 of the second period to be played following the second intermission.
In the third stanza, Stevenson continued to hold Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s offense at bay, stopping ten shots to keep the score tied at 1-1 after 60 minutes of regulation, a result which sent the two teams into overtime for the third time this season.
In the extra session, Stevenson made two stops before Vincent Iorio dropped to one knee in the defensive zone to break up a Penguins rush and passed the puck ahead to Sgarbossa, who hustled up the right wing to beat Lindberg with a backhand shot over his glove at 3:59 to win the game.
The Bears were 0-for-3 on the power play while the Penguins went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.
In Sunday’s game, Hershey took a 1-0 lead at 7:22 of the first period when Riley Sutter intercepted a Lehigh Valley pass and sent the puck to Aaron Ness at the left point. He unloaded a slap shot at the top of the circle that beat Phantoms’ netminder Samuel Ersson for his second of the season.
Artem Anisimov drew the Phantoms even at 1-1 at 1:50 of the second period when he deflected a point shot past Hershey goalie Clay Stevenson during a sequence that had Lehigh Valley on a four-on-three man advantage.
At the 10:01 mark, the Phantoms took a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal as Jordy Bellerive broke up a pass in the defensive zone and outraced a Bears defender to the puck, before snapping it behind Stevenson.
Hendrix Lapierre responded for the Bears on the same power play to tie the score at 2-2 for Hershey. Sam Anas sent a cross-ice pass to Henrik Borgstrom, who fed it toward the front of the Lehigh Valley net for Lapierre to net his eighth of the campaign at 10:34.
Bellerive tallied his second of the game for the Phantoms when his wrap-around shot at the right post caromed off the skate of Gabriel Carlsson and into the Hershey net at 9:28 of the third to put Lehigh Valley up 3-2.
It was roughly four and a half minutes when the Bears initiated their comeback, as Mike Sgarbossa rushed up the right side and snapped a shot that beat Ersson low to the blocker side at 13:59 for his tenth of the season, tying the game at 3-3. Ethen Frank and Dylan McIlrath assisted on the goal.
Connor McMichael scored the eventual game-winner when he entered the offensive zone, cut around a defender, and fired the puck past the glove of Ersson for his fifth of the season at 14:29 to give the Bears a 4-3 lead. Henrik Borgstrom earned the lone assist on the goal.
Mike Vecchione, who was playing in his 300th professional game, added an insurance marker for the Bears when he collected a Sgarbossa rebound and batted it past Ersson at 15:49 for his 11th of the season. Frank added a secondary assist on the goal, which capped the fastest three-goal sequence by the Bears this season.
Defenseman Aaron Ness talked about how he saw the game progress after the Phantoms took a 3-2 lead on a freak goal.
“It’s a game of bounces and we responded well after that with a couple of quick scores in the third period to get the win,” said Ness “We’re on a roll now and want to keep it going and we really can’t do much better than we’ve done with the seven of eight points last week and four of six this week, so we just need to keep working and keep doing what has made us success.”
The Bears were 1-for-5 on the power play, while Lehigh Valley went 1-for-2 with the man advantage.
The Chocolate and White visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at the PPL Center on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7:05 p.m., then return to Giant Center ice to host the Providence Bruins on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m.
Sunday’s victory pushed the Chocolate and White to a five-game point streak at home (4-0-0-1) and their record against Lehigh Valley this season to 5-0-0-0.