The Hershey Bears played their final game in Canada on Saturday afternoon in a lunchtime matinee with the Toronto Marlies. Looking to bounce back from a heart-breaking shootout setback in Hamilton, the Bears struggled offensively with only three third period shots, and fell 2-1 at Ricoh Coliseum.
Similar to the night before, the opposition would draw first blood against Hershey and grab the early lead. It was a milestone moment for Toronto rookie Andrew Crescenzi, who scored his first AHL goal against Dany Sabourin only 4:20 into the contest. Crescenzi entered his offensive zone on a 2-on-1 odd-man rush and beat Sabourin with a quick snap shot.
The Bears offensive forecheck began to pick up as the period would progress forward. Mattias Sjogren received a glorious opportunity to tie the game with just under four minutes left in the frame. Right off an offensive zone draw, Sjogren was suddenly all lone in the slot but was robbed by Drew MacIntyre. It appeared Sjogren had a bit more time and space to skate in and put a move on, but he decided to fire the shot immediately.
After 20 minutes, Toronto carried a slight 1-0 edge of Hershey.
The Bears received two power play chances in the opening minute of the second period, and were able to draw even on MacIntyre. On Hershey’s fourth man-advantage of the afternoon, Casey Wellman scored his first goal wearing Chocolate and White. While the Bears were retrieving pucks following clear, after clear, Wellman snapped a shot from just inside the blue line to knot the game at 1-1.
However only 5:15 later, Toronto quickly regained the lead. Tim Connolly scored on a sharp angle shot with a heavy screen set in front of Sabourin. The Bears were not able to answer within the middle frame, and entered second intermission down 2-1.
Later in the period Wellman picked off a Marlies’ cross-ice pass, split the defense and entered on a breakaway, bidding for his second goal of the day. MacIntyre again stood tall in his crease to deny any further Hershey shots on target.
Connolly’s second period goal proved to be the game-winner, as the Marlies shutout the Bears in the third period to hang on for a 2-1 victory. The Marlies looked to read every pass Hershey was about to make, allowing for no easy transition from the defensive end into neutral ice. Once Toronto would cutoff all outlet passing options between the blue lines, the Bears would dump and chase.
Considering the Marlies have several speedy skaters on their roster, a dump and chase method was not a successful strategy late for Hershey. The Bears travel to Rochester, New York tomorrow for an afternoon match against the historic Rochester Americans.