Following a dreadful 0-for-6 weekend in the points column, the Hershey Bears sought a desperate bounce back win against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After 60 minutes of end-to-end, scoreless hockey, Garrett Mitchell played the role of hero for Hershey with an overtime game-winning goal to seal two points.
The Bears unleashed 10 first period shots and played with a quick tempo in the stanza’s first half. As the frame went on, gaps began opening defensively allowing two Bridgeport breakaways on Philipp Grubauer. Each team headed to the dressing room scoreless after 20 minutes.
Hershey’s power play unit struggled through 40 minutes going 0-for-4. Each team entered second intermission still fighting for the game’s first tally. Shots after two periods were 21-16 in favor of the Bears. Bridgeport goalie Kenny Reiter continued to make awkward looking saves where he would constantly twist around looking for a loose puck.
The scoreless trend continued for the rest of regulation as Reiter continued to fight off tricky shots, and Philipp Grubauer continued to shine in net for the Bears.
With 2:11 left on the clock in the sudden death overtime period, Jeff Taffe sent a cross-ice feed to an open Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell one-timed a low shot into the cage to send a sell out crowd of 10,825 into a frenzy at Giant Center.
The heroic tally gave Hershey their first 1-0 win of 2012-13 campaign, and Grubauer his second career American Hockey League clean sheet.
After the game, head coach Mark French praised the job Garrett Mitchell has done in clutch situations. “Certainly he’s one of those guys who come to the forefront in those moments. Nice play by Jeff Taffe to get him the puck as well,” said French.
Showing confidence for Mitchell, French also touched on his NHL potential. “He’s going to play in the NHL; I have no doubt about it. If he continues to blossom he will be an important player for the organization.”
Saturday night proved to be a huge win in Chocolate Town, as the Bears were able to hop back to the seventh seat of the Eastern Conference. On the out of town scoreboard, Albany, Manchester and Norfolk all lost in their respective match ups. The bad news: Connecticut Whale remain tied in points with Hershey at 66, and Albany, Manchester, Worcester and Norfolk all remain within three points out from the Bears.