After back to back losses to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the task grew larger on Sunday with a duel against the 6-2-0-3 Norfolk Admirals. The lead affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks were led in the season’s opening month by goaltender John Gibson.
The Ducks’ prospective goalie entered play with a 4-1-2 record and an astonishing 1.44 goals against average, as well as a save percentage of 95.5 percent. Former Hershey center and 2006 Calder Cup champion Dave Steckel was listed on the Admirals’ roster wearing number 39. The Bears’ offense tallied three quick first period goals but surrendered a game tying marker with 1:02 left, leading to an Admirals’ shootout win.
Five shots hit pay-dirt in the first period, but luckily three were for the Chocolate and White. After Norfolk pushed the Bears into a quick 2-0 hole with goals by Peter Holland and Alex Grant, Hershey rallied in the frame’s final 5:15. First Ryan Stoa deflected a cannon by Cameron Schilling from the left point to cut the Admirals’ lead in half. Joel Rechlicz stood in front of the net and earned his first point of the season on a secondary helper.
The struggling power play unit entered with only two power play goals at home the entire season. But a granted 5-on-3 power play chance for 1:33 led to a Dmitry Orlov power play strike. With the points pinched in towards the high-slot on the two-man advantage, Orlov blasted a slap shot to beat Gibson high, and tie the game 2-2.
To round out the sudden scoring spurt, captain Dane Byers finished a crisp passing play to put the Bears ahead, 3-2. Orlov from the center point sent a perfect slap pass towards the back door, where Byers beat the Norfolk goaltender to his short side. The goal happened immediately after the second penalty of the 5-on-3 expired.
After an event-less second period, Hershey carried their 3-2 lead into the final frame of regulation. After 40 minutes the Chocolate and White possessed a 29-14 shot advantage after tacking on ten shots on goal opposed to four for the Admirals.
But with John Gibson on the bench in the final minute and the extra attacker on, Norfolk scored with 1:02 remaining to send the game to overtime.
Five minutes of sudden death overtime proved nothing, leading to Hershey’s first skills competition of the 2013-14 season. Norfolk scored the shootout’s only goal in the fourth round, leading to a disappointing 4-3 Hershey loss.