Playing a back-to-back series against the same team means that adversaries are able to learn the first night, and better execute the second. When a team blows out their opponent in the first game of such a match-up, they often go on to win the second, as well. This, however, was not the case for the Hershey Bears this weekend. After playing their hearts out in a 6-1 game against the Cleveland Monsters on Friday evening, the boys in chocolate and white learned how life feels on the other side of the tilt, as they dropped game two Saturday night by a score of 5-2.
Hershey goalie Parker Milner continued his excellent play from Friday night throughout the first period, and much of the game to follow. The blame for this loss cannot be squared solely on Milner’s shoulders, as defensive breakdowns and broken discipline plagued the Bears’ netminder over the course of the night. Milner faced a total of 38 shots and saved 33, despite allowing both a short-handed and power play goal during the game. These numbers truly reflect the breakdowns in defensive assignments and miscues committed by Hershey in their own zone, often allowing multiple Monsters to establish themselves on top of Milner and in the slot, leading to the tilted ice that fans in the Giant Center witnessed.
Riley Barber, in typical fashion of late, scored on a long-range rocket from above the right circle, extending his goal-streak to four games in the first period. The Bears would strike only once more, five minutes later, when Mike Sgarbossa tucked away a tight rebound off the pads of Jean Louis Berube to put Hershey up 2-1 in the first. Hershey committed four total penalties in the second period, meaning that Cleveland had plenty of time in the attacking zone, which they used to wear down the home team and crowd, both of which seemed to begin to deflate about halfway through the contest in Chocolatetown. Bears forwards had a plethora of good looks at a mostly empty net throughout the evening, but couldn’t seem to find twine in the clutch. At the end of the second period, Cleveland had tripled their shots on goal compared to Hershey, 33 to 11. The team that took the ice Saturday could have easily been mistaken for the same that took the ice on opening weekend, which is to say that their performance was less than ideal.
Taking most of the week off, Hershey sees their next hit of action on Friday, November 23rd, kicking off a weekend of rivalry against hated foes in the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. Puck drop for Friday’s contest is slated for 7:05 pm.