When the Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms last met on November 24, 2012, the Bears began heading south in the standings after dropping a 3-1 decision. It was Hershey’s sixth loss in their previous seven games in a slumping month of November.
Since then, the Bears have battled over the .500 mark in the standings and entered Saturday’s action against Adirondack with a chance to win their 25th game of the campaign. Philipp Grubauer stonewalled the Phantoms for his first AHL shutout in a 3-0 win at Giant Center.
Matt Clackson earned a lineup spot against his former team, and he did not waste any time to include himself in the game action. Just a second before Jonathon Kalinski beat Scott Munroe with a high snap shot, Clackson battled Brandon Manning in an altercation in front of the penalty boxes. It was ruled the goal would not count, as play was blown dead at the 2:41 mark due to Clackson’s fight.
Minutes later Boyd Kane made a solid bid to get his team on the scoreboard first with two great deflections on goal. Phantoms’ netminder Scott Munroe held the Bears scoreless until the 14:04 mark, when Hershey finally received a hand from lady luck.
Shorthanded in the period after a Clackson interference minor, Patrick McNeill typically cleared the puck from his defensive zone off the ice. Munroe vacated his net to play the puck in the trapezoid behind his goal when the puck hit a stanchion between two panels of glass and quickly deflected into Adirondack’s empty net.
Lucky goal, but nonetheless Hershey proudly carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission. Shots after 20 minutes were 16-7 in favor of the Bears.
In a less tense second period for the Bears offensively, they still managed to hold a 2-0 lead into the second intermission. At exactly the 15:00 mark of the frame, Hershey’s power play unit hit pay-dirt for the first time of the night on their fifth opportunity of the night.
Following a Jeff Taffe shot, Ryan Potulny crashed the net for a rebound and capitalized for his ninth goal of the season. The goal came minutes after a near Phantoms tally by Jon Sim was quickly washed out due to a kicking motion. The call on the ice was no goal due to a kick, and after a short review it was confirmed to be no goal to keep Philipp Grubauer’s shutout bid in tact.
With 9:18 left in regulation, Ryan Stoa added an insurance tally on the power play to make it a 3-0 game. Stoa had time and space and blasted a wrist shot from the face off circle that beat Munroe clean to the top shelf.
For the first time this season, a Hershey goaltender other than Braden Holtby has recorded a clean sheet. Grubauer heroically made an outstanding 40 saves leading to his first shutout at the AHL level.
After the game, Head Coach Mark French praised Grubauer’s ability to backstop his first career shutout. “He has a maturity for a young individual, and he’s very talented. That is a pretty good combination and that’s why everybody in the organization is pretty high on him.”
Grubauer commented himself on his game performance. He said, “I try to be consistent every night and give the guys a chance to win every game. My goal every game isn’t to get a shutout.”