There was a different sense of urgency when the Bears began their game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Saturday night. After losing at home Wednesday to St. John’s, the Hershey players and coaches realized that their team was in trouble. Too many home losses brought a tough Friday practice and team meeting. The result was a 3-2 overtime win against the Penguins, the first of the year against their arch rivals.
“We talked about it in great length yesterday,” said Bears coach Mike Haviland after the game. “We had a really really hard practice. I thought the guys played a complete game tonight. They played hard and they played the right way. It’s a huge win for us. It’s a confidence boost against those guys, who we haven’t beat all year. I’m really proud of them and the way they competed tonight.”
The “compete” began with a classic brawl less than two minutes into the game between the Bears Joel Rechlicz and the Penguins Pierre-Luc Letoumeau-Leblond, that seemed to inspire the Bears and the Giant Center crowd of 10,081.
Stanislav Galiev would then score his first AHL goal, just two minutes later to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Only 1:46 into the second period, Garrett Mitchell would get the boot from the game after a charging call on Brian Gibbons, which Bears fans felt like Gibbons dramatized a little much since the forward was right back at it on the Penguins 5-on-3 power play, which Hershey did a very good job at killing. With momentum still on Hershey’s side, Jeff Taffe got one on the Penguins doorstep in the second to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.
The Penguins got two goals in the third period in an 11 minute plus span. Letoumeau-Leblond and former Hershey Bear Mike Carman tallied to tie the game at two.
The game looked like it was headed to overtime, but with 6.6 second left David Kolamatis, with his family in the stands, scored the game winner swiping it in to give the Bears a 3-2 victory.
“We haven’t been happy with our compete level.” said Kolamatis. “It’s a building block. We can really take this and run with it. You start to do the right things and hopefully it keep building.”
“I think we got our point across the other day,” said Haviland. “Monday is a day off, not tomorrow (Sunday.) Now the Bears hope that the points stay with them, mentally and on the scoreboard
The Bears have just three regulation losses in their last ten games. Hershey wraps up their home stand with a 5pm faceoff against Providence. The Bears 2013 Hall of Fame inductees will be honored before the game. Then after the bears score their first goal it will be the annual Teddy Bear toss, with fans encouraged to toss a stuffed animal on the ice, that will benefit local charities