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Norfolk Spoils Hershey’s Home Opener, 6-5 (OT)

Michel Ouellet scores in overtime to defeat the Bears. Photo by Kyle Mace.

Despite the fact that the Bears had already played three games before tonight, there was a lot of energy and excitement in Giant Center. For once, the Bears were not raising a banner before their home opener but they did celebrate the 10th anniversary of Giant Center. The Bears were wearing commemorative jerseys tonight, honoring Giant Center and the three Calder Cups they’ve won since playing there. It was time to show off the new Bears slogan in front of the Hershey faithful.

The Bears celebrate an early lead.

To start the game, the Admirals did exactly what they didn’t want to do: they went to the penalty box. After having a great night against the Norfolk penalty kill unit last night, the Bears continue to score during the man advantage. Keith Aucoin had a sharp angle shot towards the crease and Graham Mink did what he does best. The puck deflected past Jaroslav Janus and Hershey took the early lead.

But, much like last night, the Admirals responded and tied the game up a few minutes later. They got Braden Holtby moving and Radko Gudas was able to score on the rebound. Then the Admirals gained their first lead of the weekend before the end of the first period when several players crashed the net. Christian Hanson fell on his own goaltender and Gudas scored again with the loose puck. With less than a minute left in the first period, the Bears made up for it by scoring on a Sean Collins shot from the point.

For the second night in a row, the game was tied 2-2 after one period.

If there’s one thing that is hard to deny, it’s how much of an asset Chris Bourque is to the Bears. He proved that with his fourth goal of the season, a shot from the left face-off circle. Matt Ford would then add to the lead with his second goal of the season. He can thank Mattias Sjogren for an amazing no-look pass.

However, it wouldn’t be an Admirals/Bears game if Norfolk didn’t tie the game up before the end of the second period. With under five minutes to go in the second stanza, the Admirals scored twice. Both goals were gritty and ugly, but you don’t get points for style. It took a lot of traffic in front of Holtby for the puck to get past him.

The third period was quiet at first but Cory Conacher ended that by flying through the Hershey defense and giving Norfolk the lead once again. But Hershey was able to get back in the game thanks to their power play. In a puzzling moment, Janus turned around in his crease and very obviously shoved his net off the pegs. He was whistled for a delay of game (of course) and Jacob Micflikier scored during the power play.

The rest of the third period went without a goal and the two teams powered on to overtime. In the end, the Admirals took this one after Michel Ouellet scored on the rebound. It was the first loss of the season for the Bears but at least they remain undefeated in regulation! Yeah, Bears lose 6-5 (OT).

Tonight’s Notes:

  • Some injuries were announced before the game tonight: Ryan Potulny (lower body), Dmitry Orlov (illness), and Brett Flemming (lower body).
  • Michal Neuvirth continues to be sidelined with a minor injury so the Capitals called Dany Sabourin up to Washington after last night’s game.
  • Thanks to Tim Leone for pointing out that Keith Aucoin’s assist on the third goal was his 500th career AHL assist. A nice milestone for a big member of the Hershey corps.
  • Andrew Carroll got in two fight tonight. He had a great fight with a big blow to Richard Petiot. But the real story of the night was his fight with Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Labrie exchanged shoves with Holtby and Carroll stood up to Labrie. Carroll was left bloodied but he threw some great punches himself.
  • Zach Miskovic, playing in his first game of the season, also got in his own fight against Alexandre Picard. Miskovic definitely put up a good show for a guy who doesn’t drop the mitts often.
  • During the third period, Kyle Greentree went missing. Rumor has it, his wrist is possibly broken. It sounded ugly.

Video Highlights:

Lines and Pairings:

Bourque – Aucoin – Mink
Kane – Hanson – Micflikier
Greentree – Sjogren – Ford
Carroll – Eakin – Rechlicz

McNeill – Collins
Wellar – Miskovic
Brouliette – Richmond

Three stars of the game:

1. Cory Conacher (NOR)
2. Michel Ouellet (NOR)
3. Keith Aucoin (HER)

More Photos from Kyle Mace.

Mink flips the puck past Janus.

The Admirals celebrate a goal from Gudas.

Mink celebrates a Bears goal.

Carroll vs Petiot, the first fight of the night.

Ford shows his appreciation to Sjogren for the assist.

Some pushing and shoving prevents Holtby from stopping the puck.

Labrie is learning not to get in Holtby’s way.

Carroll takes on Labrie.

The teams react to Ouellet’s game-winning goal.

The Admirals celebrate their overtime win.

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