HERSHEY, PA – Former Bear Graham Mink, seen here playing against Hershey earlier in the season, score a goal during Providence’s win over the Chocolate and White (Tim Stough – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
With the Hershey Bears locked in a tight battle for the playoffs, the Chocolate and White headed up the coast for a trio up big games. It started with a Friday night bout with the Providence Bruins, Hershey’s likely first round opponent — at least as things stand now.
It got off to an awful start for the Bears at “The Dunk.” The Bruins outshot the Bears 7-0 in the opening minutes, looking as if goaltender Philipp Grubauer was the only one who bothered to get on the bus to New England. The Bears, however, started to show some life in the latter half of the frame — helped in part to a pair of Bruins penalties — but no one was able to hit the back of the net.
Things reverted to type, though, at the beginning of the second. Two minutes in, Jamie Tardif flipped in a rebound to opening the scoring for Providence. Former Bear Graham Mink would put the Bruins up by two just four minutes later when he snuck past Hershey defense and backhanded one past Grubauer.
But, like the first, the Bears picked it up as the frame went on. Garrett Mitchell put Hershey within one with a one-timer, as new acquisition Michael Latta notched his first point with the team. A couple minutes later, it looked like the Bears had tied the game on a Dane Byers shot from the near circle. The play, however, was overturned on video review because the net was knocked off prior to the puck crossing the line. Boo. As the period came to a close Latta continued his interesting game by boarding some dude and then punching it out with the Bruins Zach Trotman.
The Bears finally did complete their comeback with 12 minutes left in the final period when some serious net crashing and a pile of bodies in front ended in a Ryan Potulny goal and a 2-2 game. Not bad for a game in which the Bears had 2 shots 3/4 of the way through the first period.
Ryan Spooner had other ideas though. With eight and a half minutes remaining in the game, the Bruins forward single-handedly deked and weaved his way through the Bears defense before firing a cross-ice pass to Tardif, who tallied his second goal of the game. In a back-and-forth game, the Bruins had the final laugh. Providence beats Hershey 3-2.
With the Norfolk Admirals beating the Worcester Sharks, the Bears fell out of playoff position tonight, now two points back of the Ads. Hershey will have a chance to get right back into the race, however, with two more games this weekend. We’ll see you tomorrow when the Bears take on the Manchester Monarchs.