Bears Week 9 Recap: Battling Bears

Posted December 8, 2015

Three games in three nights found the Hershey Bears battling for every standings point they could get. By the end of the weekend, the Bears sat just three points behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Atlantic Division.

Although Nathan Walker began the Friday night game aginst the Hartford Wolf Pack with a Bears goal, two unanswered goals from Brady Skeji and Chad Nehring. A skate defelction by Tyler Brown was disallowed and the score remianed 2-1 at the end of 20 minutes.

Connor Carrick finished Christian Djoos’s set-up pass to re-tie the game, but 10 minutes later the Wolf Pack regained the advantage from Nick Tarnasky. Despite going 0-for-4 on their previous chances, Hershey took the man-advantage once again when Travis Oleksuk was whistled for Delay of Game with just one minute left in regulation. Chris Bourque found Carrick for another one-timer, but the effort was kicked on to the waiting stick of Chandler Stephenson. The Bears tied it with just 43 seconds left to play.

Justin Peters stood tall in overtime, stopping Jayson Megna’s penalty shot chance halfway through to add to his 22 save night. Dustin Gazley got the Bears on the board in the ensuing shootout, but neither Bourque nor Carrick could score after Brian Gibbons and Adam Tambellini beat Peters in succession. Hershey took the shootout loss 4-3 for a standings point.

The return to GIANT Center sparked every player to bring their shooting sticks. Only three players — Djoos, Austin Fyten, and Tyler Lewington — ended the game without a shot on goal. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were limited to five shots a period and scored only in the first on Dan Ellis. Anthony Stolarz stoned the Bears offense, saving all 27 shots through two periods.

It took another third period comeback to win the game. Paul Carey’s pass to Gazley was simply redirected inside the right post to tie the game with just over nine minutes left to play. Travis Boyd and Bourque skated up ice with under a minute to go. Boyd skated wide to draw the defense; he threw the puck to Bourque, who did not miss on his team-high seventh shot of the game. The Bears withstood a flurry in the final 20 seconds to win 2-1.

Unlike the previous games, Hershey did not need a dramtic comeback to defeat the Penguins on home ice, welcoming back Steve Oleksy for the first time. Erik Burgdoerfer scored midway through the first, triggering the tossing of 18,115 teddy bears for the annual Teddy Bear Toss, and Connor Carrick did the same midway through the second. Tim Erixon halved the Bears lead with about two miutes left, justifying the Penguins pulling goaltender Matt Murray. Then Walker and Bourque scored on the empty net five seconds apart to secure a 4-1 victory over their intra-state rivals.

A home game against Binghampton on Saturday is sandwiched between a Wednesday rematch with Lehigh Valley and a Sunday afternoon game at Bridgeport.

2nd in Atlantic Division, 12-6-0-5 (W-L-OTL-SOL), 29 points