The spotlights shined at Giant Center for opening night between the Hershey Bears and Adirondack Phantoms to kick off the 2013-14 campaign. It began the final season the Phantoms will be sheltered in the ADK, as they are set to move into the new Lehigh Valley-based PPL Center next season.
Brandon Manning scored 3:22 into the sudden death overtime frame to down Hershey, 4-3.
Adirondack silenced the crowd with two early strikes within the game’s first 3:48. Both Ben Holmstrom and Tye McGinn beat Philipp Grubauer after giving up rebounds in the low-slot.
The 2-0 hole carried into the second period, but certainly not for long. Only 49 seconds into the middle frame, Nate Schmidt blasted a snap shot from the face off circle over the glove of Yann Danis to cut Adirondack’s lead in half.
Despite fanning on five power play opportunities in the first 40 minutes, the Bears climbed into the game’s driver seat and grabbed a 3-2 lead via two shorthanded tallies.
First Michael Latta picked the pocket of a guy in orange and black at center ice and skated down main street to tie the game 2-2 with 10:16 remaining. Only 4:55 later, Latta set up Derek Whitmore in the slot to post his first goal as a Hershey Bears, and give his club their first lead of the season.
The Bears overcame a 13-7 shot deficit after 20 minutes to tie the shots at 21 aside at second intermission.
Unfortunately the Chocolate and White could not successfully hold the lead in the final stanza. Following a questionable Philipp Grubauer interference call made by beloved referee Ryan Fraser, Brandon Alderson scored on a wrist shot to knot the game at 3-3.
The good news for Bears fans, unlike last year, Hershey earned a standings point in game one of the regular season. But Brandon Manning played the role of hero in the overtime period for ADK, as he poked home a loose puck after Grubauer made the initial stop of a 2-on-1 odd-man rush.
Coach Mike Haviland knows his team has a long way to go “Our compete level has to go way up. We got out worked in the first period. I like that we battled back in the second. We were way too high risk. We turned pucks over and made some bad decisions. We need to play more of a complete game and a simple game from everybody.
“They (Phantoms) worked hard but we gave them a lot too. I’m glad that we fought back and showed some character. But you can’t spot teams in this league two goals and expect to come back all the time. It’s the first game of the year and we’ll have some good video and teaching for this week ahead.”
Nate Schmidt’s second period goal gave the Bears a much needed spark that got them back in the game, after a tough first period. “I think everyone was a little jittery,” Schmidt said after the game. “Everyone knows the expectations for this team this year. Guys got a little nervous. We got everything out of our system right away.”
Dane Byers played his first game as Bears captain and also knows there is plenty of room for early season improvement. “We got back on our heels in the first period and they were rolling pretty good. We have to get back to making the easy play. We got our legs back after the first period but they came hard on us at the end.”
In a lax opening month of the season, the Hershey Bears don’t return to Giant Center for home game number two until October 26.
More photos from tonight’s game:
The Bears honored Pat Mathers, wife of Frank, before tonight’s game. Pat passed away this summer and her son, J.D., and daughter, Patricia Mattson, dropped the puck before the opening face-off