The Hershey Bears returned to the win column Saturday afternoon with a 4-2 victory over the Binghamton Devils, thanks to Connor McMichael scoring twice including the game-winning goal, and Pheonix Copley stopping 29 shots.
Hershey improved to 12-5-2-0 on the season, in the start of the second half of its 36-game schedule.
McMichael made it 1-0 just 1:33 into the tilt, after a scoring chance by Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. McMichael dug the puck out from behind the net and chipped a shot past Binghamton goaltender Gilles Senn.
The Devils tied the game at 14:25 of the opening period when Ben Thomson beat Copley to the left post for his fourth goal of the season.
Binghamton dominated the middle period with a 14-5 shot advantage. Copley made several outstanding saves to keep the game tied, until the Bears scored at 13:54.
Skating four-on-four, Hershey’s Reece Willcox fed fellow defenseman Cameron Schilling at the top of the crease. Schilling’s first chance was stopped, but he jammed the rebound home for his second goal of the season to put Hershey ahead, 2-1.
“I really thought we were very average or below average today and thought they were the better team for several reasons that had us running around in our defensive zone making some careless puck plays,” said Hershey coach Spenser Carbery. “I only know one way to coach and that is that there has to be an energy, enthusiasm and excitement to compete every game.”
The Devils pulled even once again at 14:15 of the third period when Tyler Irvine scored his first AHL goal.
McMichael, as he has done in several previous games, came up big in a clutch moment at 16:46. Jonsson-Fjallby stole the puck inside the offensive zone blue line and left it for McMichael, who fired a shot from the left wing that beat Senn over the blocker to put the Bears up 3-2.
“We certainly needed Connor again today,” said Carbery, “because we were in a bad spot when they tied the game and it wasn’t looking good for us, and then all of a sudden the puck is on his stick when Axel made a great play to keep the puck in and took a slash that would’ve been a penalty if we didn’t score>
A shorthanded, empty-net goal by Brian Pinho at 19:36 sealed the win for the Bears. Jonsson-Fjallby picked up an assist, giving him a three-assist game, a new personal single-game high in assists and points.
Copley (5-2-1-0) won his third straight game. Both teams failed to score on the power play, with Hershey going 0-for-4 and Binghamton finishing 0-for-5.
The Devils outshot the Bears 31-20. Hershey is now 6-1-0-0 versus the Devils this season.
The two teams have a rematch on Wednesday in Newark.
McMichael now leads the club with eight tallies and has four game-winning goals this season, the most of anyone in the American Hockey League.
The win for Copley was his 65th in a Hershey uniform and that moved him into an 11th place tie with Ed Chadwick on Hershey’s All-Time list, three shy of Claude Dufor’s 68.