Bears Week 11 Recap: Home and Happy

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Posted December 23, 2017

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A brief happiness fell over GIANT Center as the last minute wound down between the Hershey Bears and Binghamton Senators. For a moment, a team-effort win subdued the faithful’s worries about the team’s position.

The Bears sit a few points clear of the Springfield Thunderbirds in the basement of the Atlantic Division. The team’s playoff position out of mind, fans applauded the Bears off the ice and into the Christmas Break.

Hershey went into Charlotte early in the week and had a two polar opposite games. In the opening 20 minutes against the Checkers, the Bears scored all five of their goals in the two-game series.

Liam O’Brien took a penalty on the first shift of the game, then Colby Williams scored while shorthanded. Anthony Peluso played a puck in off a bad angle behind the net for his second of the year minutes later. Wayne Simpson followed up with a goal on Hershey’s fifth shot of the game.

Travis Boyd and the power play sent starting goalie Alex Nedeljkovic to the bench early. Riley Barber greeted his replacement, Jeremy Smith, with a goal on the first shot he faced.

Smith faced eight shots the rest of the game, and only one the rest of the first period. The Checkers controlled the rest of the game, and carried it over to the next one as well.

Hershey gave up four goals, with Vitek Vanecek ending the game with 35 saves on 39 shots. He faced 30 pucks in the final 40 minutes.

The Hershey penalty kill unit got into a few five-on-three situations, allowing Charlotte one of their two power-play goals after one expired in the second period.

Charlotte jumped ahead the next night with Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback Cam Newton in attendance, and they stayed in front the whole game. Aleksi Saarela scored three of the six goals in the 6-0 win over Hershey.

Hershey got 20 shots on goal, and only two in the third period. Only Connor Hobbs, returning to the lineup after a lengthy injury absence, finished with an even plus/minus rating. Pheonix Copley stopped 24 of 30 shots.

At home for the last time before Christmas, Hershey powered past the Binghamton Devils to a 5-2 win. Vanecek had 31 saves on 33 shots.

Before anyone could score, Jason MacDonald and Mason Mitchell threw down gloves for a spirited Feat of Strength. Mitchell scored the takedown in his first fight of the season.

Travis Boyd scored twice, one thanks to Aaron Ness holding a puck in right at the blue line. Boyd tipped Chris Bourque’s shot past Mackenzie Blackwood to give Hershey a lead they would not relinquish. Boyd added the last goal for Hershey off a pass from O’Brien behind the net.

Dustin Gazley finished a passing play with Tyler Graovac, but his pass for Colby Williams tipped behind Mackenzie before the defender could touch it.

Hobbs tangoed with Blake Pietella, answering for a boarding hit. A few overhand rights and short lefts later, Hobbs got the jersey over Pietella and whaled away.

Gazley factored in again to get Riley Barber on the scoresheet in the third. Sprinting up ice with only Jacob MacDonald between them, Gazley held until MacDonald committed his stick to the ice to block the pass. The puck arced over the downed wood, settling nicely for Barber to bury his 100th AHL point.

Zach Sill tipped a Ness shot past Mackenzie on a sliding screen to pad the score to 4-0 midway through the third period. This was Sill’s second goal of the season.

Binghamton put two past Vanecek in garbage time, including a secondary assist from former Bear Michael Latta. Nathan Bastian flipped a losse biscuit over his leg pads, and Bracken Kearns cleaned up a rebound off the crossbar to get the Devils on the board.

NEXT WEEK

Hershey and the AHL, except for a Boxing Day special between Belleville and Toronto, resume play on the 27th. The Bears go to Bridgeport for that night, then to Springfield two nights later. They end the week, and 2017, at home against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

CURRENT STANDING

7th Atlantic Division, 14-15-0-3 (W-L-OTL-SOL), .484 points percentage, 31 points

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