The Bears’ playoff quest continued Friday night against the cellar-dwelling Hartford Wolf Pack. Early in the first, during an offensive rush, Bears forward Liam O’Brien crashed into Wolf Pack goaltender Jeff Malcolm which led to a Hartford powerplay. The Wolf Pack controlled possession throughout, but were not able to beat Phoenix Copley. After the powerplay concluded, Hartford continued to control the game, going up 9-2 in shots at the halfway mark of the first period.
Hershey would push back, getting some offensive zone time of their own and forcing Hartford winger Nicklas Jensen to take a holding penalty. However, the Bears were not able to capitalize, as they were held shotless.
After some back-and-forth play, Bears forward Chandler Stephenson was slashed on a breakaway, sending Hershey to their second powerplay with 48 seconds left in the first period. The period came to a close with Hartford leading in shots 10-5.
The Bears opened the second period with 1:12 left on their powerplay, but were unable to get anything going. Just after the unsuccessful powerplay, the Bears took a penalty of their own, with Madison Bowey going to the box for cross-checking during a puck battle behind the Hershey net. Hartford would be held shotless, with the Bears getting their fair share of short-handed chances.
The path to the penalty box would be skated again shortly after, as Hartford’s Garrett Noonan would be penalized for interference.
Once again, Hershey was unsuccessful with the man-advantage, being held shotless.
The teams continued trading off powerplays, with the Bears’ Liam O’Brien going to the penalty box for the second time. This time, the Wolf Pack would capitalize. Matt Carey would beat Copley from in close to give Hartford the 1-0 lead midway through the second.
The Bears would not be down for long. Just under a minute later, Paul Carey would carry the puck in, passing it off to the trailing Christian Djoos, before getting it back and beating Jeff Malcolm to tie the score at 1.
Soon after, the Bears would get a chance to build on their momentum, going on their fourth powerplay of the game as Adam Chapie would go off for tripping. However, the Bears could not capitalize and their powerplay would prove unsuccessful once again.
Hershey would rebound late in the second. After some offensive zone pressure, Paul Carey found Christian Djoos wide open in front of the net, where Djoos sneaked the puck under the arm of Malcolm to give the Bears a 2-1 lead with just 2 seconds left in the period.
5 minutes into the third period, Hartford’s Dan Catenacci sped into the zone and beat Phoenix Copley just over the glove-side pad, tying the game at 2.
Again, Hershey would immediately respond as Garrett Mitchell deflected a Tom Gilbert wrist shot under the arm of Malcolm to regain Hershey’s lead. Christian Djoos would pick up a secondary assist on the goal, picking up his third point on the night.
With 4 minutes left, Hartford would respond; Marek Hrivik blasted a shot off of Copley’s pad that bounced right to forward Nicklas Jensen. Jensen tapped it past Copley to tie the game at 3.
After a few chances from both teams, regulation came to a close with the game tied at 3.
With 2 huge points on the line, the Bears came out fast in the overtime period. On their second shift in overtime, Christian Djoos blasted a shot from the faceoff circle past Malcom to win the game for the Bears, 4-3.
FINAL: Hershey Bears 4-3 OT
SHOTS: Hershey Bears 26-25
- Christian Djoos continued his dominance over Hartford this season with a 4-point performance (2 goals, 2 assists). He now has 3 goals and 8 assists in 6 games against the Wolf Pack.
- Travis Boyd also continued his dominance over Hartford with 3 assists. He now has 3 goals and 7 assists versus Hartford.
- Stanislav Galiev extended his point streak to 6 games after picking up an assist on the game-winning goal. He has 4 goals and 5 assists during his point streak
- Madison Bowey returned to the Bears lineup for the first time since getting cut by a skate on December 28th. In his return, he had a bad turnover and a penalty, but it was overall a good first game back for the defenseman.
- With the Bridgeport Sound Tigers losing to the Providence Bruins tonight, Hershey moves into a playoff spot.
Hershey and Hartford are back at it at the Giant Center Saturday at 7pm. Hershey has now won 4 straight games against Hartford.
The Bears will be without top defenseman Madison Bowey (rest). In coach Mann’s post-game interview, Mann said Bowey was 100% but, “He would play definitely one game, maybe two,” during this 3-game weekend.
While the Bears will not have Bowey, they will add Jakub Vrana back to the lineup. Vrana has been up with the Capitals since mid-February.
The next scheduled Bears game for GNGHockey will be March 18 against Hartford.
Dean Snock is a writer for Good Night, Good Hockey and a Hershey Bears reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @DSnock97.