HERSHEY, PA – Ryan Stoa, seen here at the Outdoor Classic, scored two goals in Hershey’s loss to Hamilton Friday night (Kyle Mace – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
The Hershey Bears kicked off the second half of February with a match up north of the U.S. border in Hamilton, Ontario. While the Bears are striding for a higher placing in the Eastern Conference’s top eight, the Hamilton Bulldogs are looking to leap out of the Western Conference cellar. Friday the Bears bested the Bulldogs in scoring
chances, but fell in a head-scratching 3-2 shootout decision.
Hershey started the game with a slow tempo, failing to fire a single shot on goal within the first half of the period. 8:32 into the game, Hamilton capitalized on the Bears’ slow start. Stefan Chaput scored into virtually an empty net after a loose puck sat in the crease with Philipp Grubauer out of position.
Seconds following the fight, Kevin Marshall would respond by dropping the gloves against the Dogs’ Zack Stortini. Stortini would receive an extra two minutes for roughing to give Hershey their first man-advantage of then night.
You will never find a more bipolar penalty kill unit in the league than the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Dogs entered Friday with the top home penalty kill in the American Hockey League with a 93.4-percent success rate. This entire season, they have only allowed six power play goals on home ice. Amazingly enough, the Bulldogs’ same penalty kill unit is the very worst in the AHL on the road at a terrible 75.2-percent success rate.
Ryan Stoa evidently did not know the Bulldogs’ PK was stronger at home, as just within the first period he scored two power play goals. The first goal came with 9:40 left in the period, and the second coming at 19:23 mark. Both tallies were assisted by Peter LeBlanc.
Thanks to Stoa’s work on the power play, Hershey entered the dressingroom after 20 minutes with a 2-1 lead.
The Bears out shot the Bulldogs 12-5 in the second frame but were not rewarded on any of their chances on net. Hamilton entered the third period still trailing Hershey, 2-1.
Hamilton’s Louis Leblanc tallied the lone goal in the third period to tie the game after a questionable delay of game call by Terry Koharski. Marshall was whistled for delay of game after a Bulldogs’ dump-in attempt deflected off Marshall’s stick and landed out of play.
Scott Stuccio on air described the play of Dogs’ netminder Robert Mayer as “an adventure.” The Bears all game long continued to pound iron and miss on excellent scoring chances in front of the net. The good news, the effort was good enough to extend Hershey’s point streak to seven games. The Bad news is, Mayer was able to thank the heavens for possibly the luckiest two points of the season.
Hamilton scored three times in the skills competition opposed to two Hershey shootout goals by Garrett Stafford and Ryan Potulny. The Bears travel to Toronto for a 3 pm lunchtime game against the Toronto Marlies.