Bears Week 22 Recap: Target on Their Backs

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Posted March 7, 2016

Hershey is now sitting atop the Atlantic Division. They are still eleven wins back of the league-leading Toronto Marlies, even though a lot of that team’s scoring was called up to the floundering Maple Leafs earlier last week. The Bears went two-for-three this past week while displacing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton as division leaders.

Noteworthy this week is that forward Scott Gomez opted to activate his release from his Professional Tryout Agreement with the Bears on Tuesday. Gomez scored 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) in only 18 games, enough to put him at fourth on the team in helpers. He then signed with the Ottawa Senators for league minimum through the rest of the NHL season.

In a back-and-forth, even contest, Hershey took down the Binghamton Senators 3-1. Reigning CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month Riley Barber scored the first of the game past Senator’s goalie Matt O’Connor. The Boston University product got some goal support later in the period from Phil Varone on the power play.

Despite being outshot 11-5 in the second, Hershey walked away with the lone goal of the period. O’Connor stopped Dustin Gazley’s wrap-around, but the rebound went straight to Sean Collins at the top of the crease. Collins also assisted on Chris Bourque’s empty-netter at the end of the third to secure the victory. Dan Ellis stopped 22 of 23 shots to win his fifth straight game and 21st overall on the season.

In a game where the teams barely combined for 35 shots on goal (23 for Hershey and 14 for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), efficiency was the name of the game on Saturday night. The Chocolate and White went 3/7 on shots in the second period, with goals coming from Nathan Walker, Christian Djoos (PP), and Carter Camper. The Penguins got one of their five shots past Ellis thanks to Dustin Jeffery.

Gazley’s power play strike early in the third was enough insurance against Matthias Platcha’s counter-strike. Zach Sill put his fifth of the season by Tristan Jarry with under ten minutes left in the game and Walker finished off the night with a late power play marker. By virtue of his assist on Walker’s second goal Bourque recorded his 300th Hershey assist.

Ellis had a slow night for business in front of his crease, only needing to make 12 saves on 14 shots for his sixth consecutive victory.

After taking the matchup at GIANT Center, the Bears dropped the rematch at Mohegan Sun Arena. A hat trick from Penguins’ Carter Rowney highlighted the offense while 74 combined penalty minutes loomed over the home team’s 5-4 win.

Liam O’Brien and Patrick McGrath scrapped eight seconds into the contest. Mcgrath started the jawing in the opening faceoff and jumped O’Brien with a hit once he had the puck. They fought briefly before O’Brien hit the ice. McGrath got an extra two and a 10-misconduct for instigating the altercation.

38 total penalty minutes came in the first period, as did six goals. Rowney began his hat trick at 2:19 of the first, but Hershey answered right back with Tyler Lewington and Aaron Ness (PP) giving the visitors a lead. The lead lasted 1:52; Jean-Sebastien Dea started the three unanswered goals for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, followed by Rowney and Dominik Simon (both on power play).

Riley Barber continued his hot streak of late, scoring on another man-advantage to bring the game within one. Ness tied the game in the second, but Rowney completed the trick on a late short handed goal in the last minute of the middle frame. From there, the third period devolved into more infractions, including O’Brien getting sent off for unsportsmanlike conduct and a former Bear Steve Oleksy getting booked for slashing at the final horn.

NEXT WEEK

It’s another trip up north to Canada for the Bears this weekend. Next stop will be St. John’s, Newfoundland for Hershey’s one and only road trip to face the IceCaps on Saturday and Sunday.

CURRENT STANDING

60 games played, 34-16-3-7 (W-L-OTL-SOL), 78 points, 1st in Atlantic Division