On Friday, the Hershey Bears began a four-game road trip with a 3-2 overtime loss at the Laval Rocket (16-18-4-1) at Place Bell. Then, down 2-0 in the third period on Saturday, the Bears (26-8-4-1) stormed back with a four-goal third period to top the Belleville Senators (15-20-3-1) by a 4-2 score at CAA Arena.
The Bears took a 2-0 first period lead in Friday’s matchm but were forced to play defensively for the first several minutes of the opening frame. A double-minor penalty to Mike Sgarbossa meant Hershey didn’t take its first shot on goal until a Connor McMichael breakaway attempt was foiled by Kevin Poulin.
But Sgarbossa made up for the earlier infraction in the final three minutes of the period.
With Hershey on a 5-on-3 power play, Sgarbossa passed the puck to Ethen Frank, who sent a pass to Joe Snively at the right circle. Snively blasted a one-timer that beat Poulin for his third goal of the season at 17:18 to put the Bears up 1-0.
With seconds remaining, Sgarbossa pounced on a Laval turnover in the neutral zone, and skated into the Laval zone where he sent a low wrist shot past the blocker of Poulin for an unassisted goal at 19:54. The play sent Hershey into the locker room up by a pair of goals.
The Rocket took advantage of an extended power play in the second period with a pair of goals, and in each instance it was Joel Teasdale who found the net for Laval.
Teasdale got his first goal when he got a piece of Anthony Richard’s one-timer and deflected it behind Hershey goalie Zack Fucale at 12:43, with three seconds left in a 5-on-3 Rocket power play.
With the Bears still on the penalty kill, Teasdale again deflected a Richard shot at 13:21 to make it 2-2. Ultimately, the Rocket out-shot the Bears 22-6 in the second period, which was a new season-high for Hershey for shots allowed in a single period.
The Bears were limited to only three shots on goal in the third period and the score remained tied 2-2 after 60 minutes of play.
In the sudden-death overtime, a penalty to Mike Vecchione for tripping at 3:18 put Laval back on the man advantage, and Peter Abbandonato scored at 3:53 on a shot from the center point that made it a 3-2 win for the Rocket.
Shots finished 41-27 in favor of Laval. The Bears were 1-for-2 on the power play; Laval went 3-for-7 on the power play.
Washington recalled Aliaksei Protas.
Hershey goaltender Zach Fucale played for Laval during the 2017-18 season, going 10-7-0 over 18 games. Laval defender Madison Bowey suited up for the Bears from 2015-18.
Saturday’s game was just the opposite of the previous night because the Bears trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes to the Belleville Senators (15-20-3-1), but finished with a 4-2 victory at CAA Arena.
The win extended Hershey’s overall point streak to six games at 4-0-2-0, and its road point streak to five games at 4-0-1-0.
The win was also the Bears’ first comeback victory this season when trailing after two periods, after previously going 0-6-1-0 in seven prior attempts.
Both teams failed to score in the first period, but Belleville got on the board 29 seconds into the middle frame when Scott Sabourin deflected Dillon Heatherington’s shot from the high slot behind Hunter Shepard to put the Senators up 1-0.
Viktor Lodin put Belleville up 2-0 with a power-play goal on a one-timer from the right circle at 15:31.
The Bears made it a 2-1 deficit at 5:04 of the third stanza with the man advantage, as Ethen Frank took a cross-slot pass from Mike Sgarbossa at the left circle and snapped his team-leading 17th of the season past goalie Kevin Mandolese. Connor McMichael had the secondary assist on the tally.
Beck Malenstyn followed with the game-tying goal at 9:06, off a shorthanded rush with a shot from the right circle for his third of the season. The goal was the Bears’ second shorthanded marker of the season, with assists going to Gabriel Carlsson and Henrik Rybinski.
Hendrix Lapierre stole the puck from a Belleville defender behind the net and centered it into the slot for Garrett Pilon who roofed a shot past the glove of Mandolese for his fifth of the season at 13:37.
With Mandolese pulled for an extra skater, Frank sealed the game with an empty-net goal at 19:07, for his 18th of the season, from Mike Vecchione and Sgarbossa.
Frank extended his current point streak to six games (5g, 4a) to match a previous career-high established earlier this season, while Sgarbossa also extended a six-game point streak of his own (4g, 6a).
Shots finished 34-25 in favor of Hershey. The Bears were 1-for-7 on the power play; Belleville went 1-for-4 on the power play.
The game marked the 600th American Hockey League game as a head coach for Hershey’s Todd Nelson, who now has a 335-197-68 record over his AHL career with Oklahoma City, Grand Rapids and Hershey.
Aaron Ness played in his 700th professional game. He has appeared in 637 career AHL games with Bridgeport, Hershey, Tucson and Providence in addition to 72 NHL games for the New York Islanders, Washington and Arizona. His 276 games with Hershey lead all active Bears players.
Hershey will take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at the PPL Center. The Bears return to Giant Center for their annual Teddy Bear Toss when they host the Bridgeport Islanders on Sunday, Jan. 29 at 3 p.m. All fans are encouraged to bring new, stuffed teddy bears and items to the game to toss onto the ice when the Bears score their first goal.