The Hershey Bears returned indoors for the first time since a January 18 duel against the Lake Erie Monsters. The Chocolate and White battled the St. John’s IceCaps for the fourth and final time this season. Hershey fell behind late in the second period, and fell to catch St. John’s in another 3-1 defeat.
The first period against the IceCaps at Giant Center quickly turned into the Philipp Grubauer show. He stopped all 15 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes, despite his team being out shot by eight. Grubauer early on showed great rebound control, and stayed in position perfectly when sliding from post-to-post when needed.
Within the first ten minutes Hershey forced several St. John’s defensive end turnovers leading directly to scoring chances. Eddie Pasquale matched his counter partner with a first period clean sheet, making seven saves.
Into the middle frame, each team would break the goal column on the power play, but it was St. John’s who scored a second, late period goal to carry a 2-1 lead into intermission. At the 11:52 mark of the period, the IceCaps tallied on their fourth power play chance of the night.
Patrice Cormier tipped a shot past a screened Grubauer to break the ice. However with 4:06 left in the stanza, Jon DiSalvatore answered for Hershey. Following a Dean Arsene minor, Jeff Taffe sent a pass to the slot, received by DiSalvatore. He released a quick shot to the top-shelf right as he was being hit in the back by a St. John’s penalty killer.
The hockey game only remained a 1-1 score for 53 seconds, as Ben Maxwell capitalized on a defensive miscue. Steve Oleksy with a neutral zone giveaway in front of the IceCaps bench led to a breakaway goal for Maxwell. He went to a quick back and move and scored into a wide-open net after Grubauer came out of his net to challenge.
Hershey entered the third period looking for their first victory of the season when trailing after 40 minutes.
The Bears could not find the equalizer and once again fell, 3-1. Ray Sawada added an empty net with 38.5 left to seal the deal, and hand the Bears their 13th home regulation loss.
“For the life of me I don’t know understand why work ethic and emotion should ever be a problem, especially in the first game of the weekend,” head coach Mark French said after the game. “Clearly it was, clearly they were the more urgent team then us early and late as well.
“I told the guys I’m sick and tired of walking back into the dressing room hearing their guys announced for stars in home buildings. When we go on the road, geez, we play a hell of a hockey game and we’re lucky we get a star. It’s pretty indicative of how our play has been at home where we’re hard pressed, other than probably our goalie most nights, getting a star. It’s embarrassing.”