The Hershey Bears returned from their Christmas break by taking a quick 4-1 lead over the Utica Comets on Friday night at Adirondack Bank Center, but needed an overtime goal by Mike Sgarbossa, who closed out a four-point game, for a 6-5 win that extended the team’s winning streak to nine games.
In a bizarre first period the Bears scored first at 6:04 and 11 seconds later for a 2-0 lead. Both strikes came on shots by Garrett Pilon, with Sgarbossa picking up his first two points.
A Utica shot hit the iron behind goaltender Vitek Vanecek, then the Bears headed the other way and Kody Clark scored his first AHL goal sending a rebound over a sprawled Utica goalie Michael DiPietro, who failed to handle an Axel Jonsson-Fjallby shot. That goal ended DiPietro’s night after surrendering three goals on just nine shots.
The teams traded goals to end the first period with Vincent Arseneau scoring for Utica at 8:34. The Bears regained the three-goal lead on Joe Snivley’s eighth of the season, a shot that eluded Zane McIntyre at 13:10. Sgarbossa and Tyler Lewington had the helpers.
Seamus Malone scored Utica’s only goal of the second period allowing the Bears to take a 4-2 lead into the third stanza when the Comets started their comeback.
Former Bear Carter Camper made it 4-3 at 4:22, then 90 seconds later Lukas Jasek tied the game on a shot from the blue line that fooled Vanecek and rolled over the goal line.
With the Bears shorthanded, a Utica player was hit by his own teammate’s slap shot and that allowed Jonsson-Fjallby to skate out on a 2-on-1 rush and feed Pinho on the backdoor for his fifth goal of the season, at 12:54.
Utica responded when Jasek scored his second goal of the game at 14:19 to tie the contest again at 5-5.
In the overtime, Hershey took advantage of a power play opportunity and Sgarbossa scored on a slap shot from the top of the right circle for the 6-5 win. Pilon assisted on the goal giving him a three-point outing.
The Bears return to action Saturday evening when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins visit Giant Center for a 7 p.m. start. Sunday Hershey finishes a three games in three days weekend at Lehigh Valley.