King Me: Power Play Surges, Bears Throttle Monarchs

On January 5, 2014, in Game Recap, by Matt Trust

hershey bears manchester monarchs-1
HERSHEY, PA – Dustin Gazley celebrates his first goal as a Bear during Sunday night’s game against Manchester (Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth)

The Hershey Bears aimed to close out the weekend with back-to-back wins at home. Their foe for the night was the Manchester Monarchs, who entered standing at second best in the Eastern Conference. It was nothing short of a 60 minute effort for the good guys in White, as the Bears beat down the Monarchs by a 6-3 count.

Following Hershey’s win against the Rochester Americans, the power play unit climbed in the American Hockey League rankings from 24th to 20th. Into the first period against the Monarchs, the suddenly hot power play continued its excellence.

A 2-for-3 success rate on the man-advantage helped Hershey to a 3-2 lead at first intermission. Dustin Gazley kicked off the scoring affair 12:33 into the contest on the power play. After great puck movement in all areas of the offensive end, Jeff Taffe sent a “thread-the-needle” pass across the low slot to Gazley, catching Jean-Francois Berube out of position.

Hershey Bears’ fans were enabled to remain standing following Gazley’s tally, as only 49 seconds later, Peter LeBlanc scored while even strength. On a transition from the neutral zone to the offensive end, Dane Byers sent a crisp drop pass to an open LeBlanc. LeBlanc curled and snapped a beauty of a shot into the cage for a sudden two goal lead.

But the 23-wins Monarchs stormed back to quickly draw even with an even strength and power play goal of their own. Andrew Campbell stuffed a loose puck past David Leggio at the 14:06 mark to cut Hershey’s lead in half. Fans and Bears’ skaters argued incidental contact on Leggio, but the goal stood for Manchester.

Then 1:58 later, Nick Shore pulled his club even with another goal developed off crashing Leggio’s crease. But after a Manchester too many men bench minor, Hershey used the man-advantage to their advantage and reclaimed a 3-2 lead before first intermission.

After countless, short passes all over the slot area, along with a near dog pile in front of the net, Ryan Stoa capitalized for Hershey’s fifth power play goal in the previous three periods.

Into the middle period, the scoring eased for the L.A. Kings’ Triple-A Affiliate, but the Chocolate and White tallied another field goal to grab a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes.

Nicolas Deschamps opened the period with a shorthanded, breakaway goal to give his team their second two-goal lead of the night. After catching the Manchester defense flat-footed in the neutral zone, Brandon Segal fed Deschamps with a head man pass. Deschamps scored his tenth of the season on a pretty move.

Only 3:08 later, the chocolate covered scoring parade continued and Segal added his third point of the night. He received a perfect stretch pass from Casey Wellman, slipped past the Manchester defense and scored to end Berube’s night in the Monarchs’ net. Berube’s horrific night finished with five goals against on only 13 Hershey shots in 24:09.

Wellman then greeted Mathias Niederberger into his first game of the AHL season with a 5-on-3 power play goal in the final minute of the period.

A defensive third stanza would follow by the Hershey Bears leading to a 6-3 throttle of the Monarchs. The win concluded an impressive weekend for the Bears, claiming five out of six standings points including a combined 11 goals in two nights against Rochester and Manchester.

Nick Deslauriers added a meaningless goal for the Monarchs in the final minute to round out the scoring.

The power play unit ended the night an outstanding 3-for-5.