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BY DON SCOTT

The visiting Cleveland Monsters and the Hershey Bears split a weekend series at Giant Center, with Cleveland skating to 2-1 shootout win Saturday, and Hershey rebounding with a 4-3 overtime victory on Sunday.

In Saturday’s game, Cleveland took a 1-0 edge at 7:12 of the first period, when Liam Foudy stuffed a backhander past Bears net minder Zach Fucale. Shots after 20 minutes were 13-9 Hershey.

With five minutes left in the second period, Hershey’s Cody Franson tied the game on a 5-on-3 power play. Monsters Josh Dunne and Cole Clayton were penalized 16 seconds apart, and Franson blasted home his first goal as a Bear.

Following a scoreless third period and overtime, the Bears went into a shootout situation for the first time this season. Scoreless into Round 8, Cleveland’s Kevin Stenlund beat Fucale for the 2-1 final.

“I thought Fucale was outstanding tonight, but just had that goal that trickled over the line seven minutes into the game, and then he shut it down the rest of the way, making big saves at key moments,” said Hershey head coach Scott Allen.

Final shots finished 35-30 Hershey, and the Bears were one-for-six on the power play and three-for-three on the penalty kill. 

In Sunday’s encounter, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored the overtime game-winner to extend Hershey’s Halloween winning streak to nine consecutive games, dating back to Oct. 31, 1998.

Cleveland’s Josh Dunne’s first period-power play tally at the 7:55 mark was the only goal in the first 20 minutes.

The Bears responded in the second stanza with goals separated by only 105 seconds. First, Mike Sgarbossa finished a great passing play with Jonsson-Fjallby at 5:25, followed by a Garrett Pilon redirect of a Lucas Johansen shot at 7:10. 

Jake Christiansen pulled the Monsters even at 2-2 with his third goal of the season at 14:15. After 40 minutes, shots were 25-22 Cleveland.

“I thought this was probably our worst start of the year and I would’ve bet the farm that wouldn’t have happened if people could have seen the emotion and energy in the locker room, before heading out for the first shift,” said Allen. “Give them (the Monsters) credit, they came out strong and hard, obviously scored. then around the ten-minute mark. we started to take over and the second period became our best one of the year.”

Liam Foudy put Cleveland up 3-2 just 22 seconds into the third period then Franson answered with his second goal in as many nights at 12:12. On a power play, Franson blasted a point shot through traffic for the 3-3 deadlock.

Hershey’s premiere penalty kill came in the opening minutes of sudden-death overtime. Dylan McIlrath was called for tripping at the period’s 20:00 mark, and Hershey’s PK, backed by Pheonix Copley, earned a successful kill. 

That set the stage for Jonsson-Fjallby’s overtime heroics at the 3:27 mark. On a rush with Mike Vecchione, Jonsson-Fjallby fired the game-winner past Daniil Tarasov to improve Hershey’s record to 4-1-1-1.

Bears notes:

Phoenix Copley improved to 2-1-1 and also recorded his 72nd win as a Bear, which puts him eighth Hershey’s all-time list, one behind number seven, Braden Holtby.

The Bears (4-1-1-1) return to action on Friday, Nov. 5 with their first visit to Springfield, then host Providence on Saturday, and Springfield on Sunday.

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