Bears Week 16 Recap: Fighting Back

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Posted February 5, 2018

Anthony Peluso fights Zack Stortini (Cory Lyons)

Hershey fans rose to salute their Olympian, passing an American flag around the seating bowl as they bid farewell to Chris Bourque on Sunday. Bourque is off to Peyongchang, South Korea to join Team USA for the Winter Olympics, where former Bear Ryan Stoa and company will vie for gold.

In his last three games before the trans-Pacific journey, Bourque showcased how important he is to the Hershey offense. He is far and away the team’s top scorer at 45 points, 11 more than second-place Travis Boyd. He has played in every game for the Chocolate and White this season. He will miss at least six games if the U.S does not get out of the group stage, and nine if they go to the medal round.

Bourque and the Bears entered the week on an eight-game losing streak, which their 4-1 loss to Wilkes-Barre extended to nine.

Zach Sill and Andrey Pedan got the night started with flying fists straight off the opening faceoff. Pedan nailed a few right hooks to drop Sill to his knees, but Sill popped up and managed some jabs before twisting Pedan to the ice. This was Sill’s first fight this season. Pedan finished an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.

Riley Barber scored the only Hershey goal, and Bourque tied the team lead (Wayne Simpson) with four of the team’s 26 shots. Tristan Jarry stopped the other 25, while Hershey’s Pheonix Copley kept 22 of 25 out.

Prior to this losing stretch, the Bears swept the Charlotte Checkers at home to open the 2018 portion of the season. Herhsey needed a five-round shootout, but they beat the Queen City, 6-5 to stop their skid.

This game was a back-and-forth affair the whole night. With close to 18 minutes separating the two, Nathan Walker and Travis Boyd scored to give Hershey an early lead. Charlotte roared back in the second wth four goals, limiting Hershey to three shots. Sadly for them, Garrett Mitchell and Barber scored on two of those shots.

Connor Hobbs and Brendan Kichton fought in the first of the night. In response to a heavy hip check on Barber, Hobbs skated over and intiated combat. His wild uppercut missed, but the force was enough to send Kichton to the ice.

Following Jeremy Smith’s only save of the period, G. Mitchell and Clark Bishop exchanged a few words. The linesmen tried to break them up, then the Hershey captain flicked off his gloves and landed his right hand flush on Bishop’s face.

Mason Mitchell held up Trevor Carrick, then they tangoed for a bit with Carrick’s stick stuck between them. The wrestled each other to the ice in a matter of seconds. Both M. Mitchell and Carrick got misconducts for “secondary altercation,” a fight occuring at the same time as another fight.

Aleksi Saarela put up his 15th of the year in the third, followed by Boyd getting to the double-digit plateau to tie the game. Despite power-play chances for both sides in overtime, Charlotte and Hershey needed a shootout.

Bourque’s shootout goal needed video review to confirm it went in, and Boyd scored with a wrist shot on Alex Nedeljkovic, then Vitek Vanecek capped off a 29-save performance with a poke check Janne Kuokkanen.

Charlotte came up with five again the next afternoon, the Bears only had two in the loss before that big NFL game.

Anthony Peluso and Zack Stortini had possibly the longest fight of the year in the first period. In the 2 minutes and 11 seconds they fought, they traversed from the right faceoff circle, to the blue line, to the left faceoff circle. Stortini had a grip on Peluso’s collar right by the right armpit, preventing any huge hits and impairing his hits from landing with accuracy.

Barber and Tyler Graovac struck one-after-the-other 30 seconds apart in the second period, and that was it for Hershey’s offense.

NEXT WEEK

Hershey will stay in Pennsylvania for this week before going to Canada for three games. They travel to Lehigh Valley on Friday, then host Hartford and Rochester on the weekend.

CURRENT STANDING

8th in Atlantic Division, 18-23-3-4 (W-L-OTL-SOL), .448 points percentage, 43 points

More photos of the fight, via Cory Lyons:

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