Bears Week 19 Recap: Long Climb

Posted February 26, 2018

(Cory Lyons)

There are 19 games left in the season, with 38 standings points up for grabs. After a three-point weekend, the Bears sit 11 points behind the Charlotte Checkers for the fourth and final Atlantic Division spot. Of the 19 games remaining, 11 are against teams currently in playoff spots.

To reach Charlotte, Hershey needs to leapfrog the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and last Friday night’s opponent, the Hartford Wolf Pack. Aside from a crazy sequence to end the game, Hartford and Hershey fought a close battle. Nathan Walker‘s two-goal night helped secure Hershey its fifth straight win, 4-2.

Walker’s first goal sat as Hershey’s only one for most of the game. Cole Schneider scored from a sharp angle to negate the advantage given by Walker’s high-slot wrister, and the game remained 1-1 for a long time.

Hershey looked in control after Joe Whitney, Hartford’s former captain before a trade sent him to Chocolate Town, scored straight off a faceoff win from Travis Boyd. 26 seconds later, Scott Kosmachuck tied the game again. Nine seconds after that, Walker got his second of the night.

All that separated Walker from a hat trick was a backcheck on an empty-net. Walker had to pass, finding Jeremy Langlois to ice the game.

Pheonix Copley had limited work through 40 minutes, facing just 13 shots. He ended the game with 23 saves.

Vitek Vanecek took the crease for a matchup with the Rockford IceHogs. While this marked the first-ever visit by Rockford to Hershey, the teams share some history.

IceHogs broadcaster, Joseph Zakrzewski, called games for the South Carolina Stingrays before Zack Fisch, the voice of the Bears. Bears forward Anthony Peluso made his AHL debut against the IceHogs in 2009 while with the Peoria Rivermen. Langlois played for Rockford last season.

For two teams who hardly play each other, this game was decided by penalties. In the 4-3 overtime win for Rockford, only two goals came at five-on-five. Rockford and Hershey combined for 36 penalty minutes.

Following Matthew Highmore’s shorthanded strike to give the visitors a first period lead, Walker got into his first fight of the year with Luke Johnson.

A few seconds of standing around with arms up and ready later, Walker grabbed Johnson’s collar and fired off body shots. Johnson got one right in before missing in front of Walker’s face with his second and falling to the ice. The Australian got one last right in before the linesmen broke them up.

Liam O’Brien and William Pelletier traded goals in the second period, with Pelletier’s coming on the man-advantage.

Boyd and Riley Barber both got power-play tallies to bookend another marker from Pelletier in the third. John Hayden ended the game for Rockford in overtime, scoring on Vanecek after Barber got sent to the ice to create the two-on-one rush.

A short trip on I-81 put Hershey in Mohegan Sun Arena to face Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. In need of points, the Bears could not tie the game late, making the 3-2 loss their seventh this season to the team up north.

Hershey started great, with Barber all alone scoring on a no-look twister pass from Boyd 129 seconds into the game. 51 seconds later, however, Tom Kostopoulos one-timed his shot over Copley.

Adam Johnson and Tyler Graovac traded goals in the second, with Hershey scoring easily the best of the game. In his 300th professional game, Graovac capped off a 200-foot play for his 10th goal this season.

Johnson would get another amid a push from Hershey that went 180 degrees quickly. Mulitple Bears overskated a loose puck, allowing the Penguins an easy entry into the offensive zone. Teddy Blueger’s shot pinballed back to Johnson for his seventh of the season. Copley ended the night with 22 saves.


With the Olympics over, Chris Bourque is set to return to the roster this weekend. The Bears play three games in Pennsylvania, with their only road matchup coming 76 miles from Giant Center against Lehigh Valley. A Saturday showcase against Utica sits between the Phantoms and Bears in a Sunday matinee for the 12th and final time this season.


7th Atlantic Division, 23-26-4-4 (W-L-OTL-SOL), .474 points percentage, 54 points

Bears Fall to Icehogs In OT, 4-3 (Photos)