Bears Week 21 Recap: Close to the Edge

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Posted March 13, 2018

Chris Bourque (Cory Lyons)

With 26 standings points up for grabs in the last five weeks, the Hershey Bears sit 14 points back of the Charlotte Checkers for the final playoff spot.

Two consecutive 3-0 shutouts kept the Bears at two points from the weekend, coming in a win over the Syracuse Crunch.

Syracuse outshot the Bears 30-18 in the fixture at the War Memorial Arena, but Pheonix Copley made 29 saves to thwart the team in second place in the North Division.

No goals came in the first while Colby Williams and Alexander Volkov fought with a few seconds left in the period. On a late scramble in front of Copley, Matthew Peca dove for a loose puck at the goal line. The referee blew the whistle, while the Crunch believed the puck was in. Out of the pile-up, everybody grabbed someone.

With a linesman between them, Volkov and Williams gained enough separation to land body shots. Volkov got the takedown.

Tyler Graovac got his 12th goal of the year in the middle frame above Peter Budaj, while Aaron Ness‘s fourth of the year proved the difference off a rush play in the third.

Vitek Vanecek made 30 saves on 32 shots against the Binghamton Devils, yet his offense came up empty.

One-time Bear Michael Latta got an assist for Binghamton, as the Devils exacted revenge for the Festivus Beatdown the Bears gave them in December.

The only home game of the week welcomed Grand Rapids to town for the first time since 2006. The Griffins, defending Calder Cup Champions, are not guaranteed a return trip to the playoffs in the Central Division. They netted two crucial points to separate from fifth-place Rockford in the shutout.

Liam O’Brien fight (Cory Lyons)

Liam O’Brien‘s physicality provided one of few moments to cheer for the Chocolate and White crowd. On a shift midway through the first, he buzzed around the ice like a hyperactive kid on a sugar rush. His last hit of the shift resulted in a boarding major and a dust-up with Turner Elson.

The two grappled each other to the ground, and got the full allotment of penalties they could get short of an ejection. Elson got two for instigating, five for fighting, and a ten-minute misconduct. O’Brien got majors for boarding and fistcuffs.

From then on, it was Grand Rapids in control. Copley made 20 saves on 23 shots, and the Bears went zero-for-five on the power play.

NEXT WEEK

Three crucial division games are lined up for Hershey: Bridgeport on Friday, Springfield on Saturday, and off the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday.

CURRENT STANDING

8th in Atlantic Division, 25-29-4-5 (W-L-OTL-SOL), .468 points percentage, 59 points

Hershey Shut Out By Griffins 3-0 (Photos)

Washington Capitals 2018 Stanley Cup Champs Gear