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BY DON SCOTT

The Hershey Bears scored early and often, and ultimately it turned into a 5-2 victory over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Saturday in front of 6,754 Giant Center fans. The win was a season-best fifth consecutive for the Bears

Brian Pinho, playing in his 100th AHL game, scored his fourth goal of the season just 1:49 into the tilt beating Sound Tigers goalie Jakub Skarek on the initial shot of the night.

Bridgeport pulled even at 7:48 when Kieffer Bellows banked a sharp angle shot off Vitek Vanecek’s pads, then the Bears quickly regained their lead at the 11:44 mark.

Mike Sgarbossa bounced an attempted pass off a Bridgeport defender that found the back of the net. Less than a minute later, Philippe Maillet stretched the lead to 3-1 after converting a pass from Liam O’Brien.

“I thought we had a good start and obviously that’s what we want to do each night by coming out fast and being more consistent,” Pinho said about his early strike. “It’s really nice to have an early lead and we did that tonight.

“A big thing tonight was the way we came back to score two times after they tied it,” continued Pinho. “That made everyone feel more comfortable and we started playing our game even more.”

The Sound Tigers made it a one-goal deficit again when Andrew Ladd scored at 1:26 of the middle frame, but once again the Bears took control on their second power-play chance of the night.

After Sgarbossa’s shot was blocked, Matt Moulson fired the loose puck into the cage for his eighth goal of the season at 5:59. The power-play goal marked the first time this season Hershey scored a power-play goal in three straight games.

Just 14 seconds later, O’Brien made it 5-2 with his sixth goal of the season. Pinho recorded the primary helper for his second career multi-point game.

In the final period, Hershey’s penalty kill squads made five consecutive successful kills, including two 5-on-3 power play disadvantages. That work extended the Bears penalty kills to 26 straight successful kills dating back to Dec. 1

“It was amazing the way everyone did their job on those two 5-on-3s with some big blocks by (Alex) Alexeyev and some other guys, plus we got big saves from Vitek too,” Pinho stated. “We didn’t have any penalties until the third period and then had our hands full but we killed them all off.”

Vanecek finished with 24 saves to improve to 7-4-1.

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