Striding towards their first win on Giant Center ice since last Spring, the Hershey Bears reunited with the Hartford Wolf Pack. After dropping the team title “Connecticut Whale”, the Hartford based franchise restored the name “Wolf Pack” after a two year absence.
On a Penn State University football game day, 8,001 fans packed Giant Center to witness a Hershey third period collapse, which handed the Wolf Pack their sixth win of the campaign.
Two third period goals for the Pack opposed to none for Hershey led to a 4-3 defeat in front of the hometown crowd. The Bears’ record drops to 1-3-1-0 going into the weekend finale Sunday against Norfolk.
On opening night, the power play struggled consistently, fanning of five chances against the Adirondack Phantoms. But versus Hartford, the special team’s unit wasted little time to find pay-dirt for the first time this season at Giant Center.
Dmitry Orlov tallied his fifth point in two games after receiving credit for the secondary helper on Jeff Taffe’s second goal of the campaign. Taffe blasted a one-timer from the right face-off dot, which beat Pack goalie Scott Stajcer short side 6:50 into the match .
The Chocolate and White appeared to be on their way to a lead at first intermission before a bad break broke that glance of hope in the final two minutes. A second away from sending an outlet pass out of his defensive zone, the stick of Orlov shattered into two pieces, allowing Oscar Lindberg to score an unassisted goal.
Shots after 20 minutes against Hartford were 7-6 in favor of the Wolf Pack.
Into the middle frame, the Hershey Bears were denied of a shot until nearly the nine minute mark of the stanza, until Brandon Segal tested Stajcer will a quick snap shot. Two early second period infractions gave Hartford a 5-on-3 power play in which they quickly capitalized.
Aaron Johnson tallied for the Wolf Pack only 78 into the period after exposing a shooting lane through the Bears’ defensive slot area.
However a late second period rally by Hershey suddenly turned the momentum heading into the intermission. Chay Genoway and Michael Latta each tallied on consecutive shots to quickly up-bring the Bears to a 3-2 lead. Latta scored off a crisp backhand shot to the top-shelf of the twine from beneath the goal line.
The Pack bounced back only 3:15 into the final stanza of regulation on their sixth power play chance of the night. Danny Kristo scored into an open frame after an initial kick save was made by Grubauer following an Aaron Johnson bullet from center point.
Just over five minutes later, former New York Ranger 2010 draft pick Andrew Yogan handcuffed Grubauer with a snap shot that trickled across the Hershey goal line to reclaim his club’s second lead of the night. It proved to be the game-winning tally as the Bears could not recover and rally once more.
Hartford escaped with a 4-3 win over the Bears, dropping Hershey’s home record to 0-1-1-0.
Just from glancing at the roster sheet, one could easily assume that a lack of talent is not the cause of the slow start. Head coach Mike Haviland preached during the preseason his demanding expectations and high standards for every player during a game’s 60 minute time span. The question for Bears nation as of now is, when do the expectations become a reality, and when do the players physically respond?