The Hershey Bears battled the Albany Devils for the second time in as many weeks Sunday night. The Bears entered riding a 5-2-1-0 record in 2014. A win would up-lift Hershey into the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference standings.
The Chocolate and White also entered with a five game winning streak on Giant Center ice.
A two-goal, third period comeback lifted the Bears for the second time this season over Albany by a 4-3 shootout final.
The Bears were rewarded for a positive first period and carried a 1-0 lead into the game’s first intermission. Julien Brouillette drew a defensive zone, double-minor high-stick infraction on Stefan Matteau.
On the back end of the 4:00 power play, Dustin Gazley finished a quick passing play into an open net. Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stoa received the helpers on Gazley’s fourth goal of the campaign. Despite ten other shots on goal and various great offensive zone shifts, the Bears were held off the board for the remainder of the opening stanza and the second period.
But as physics will tell you, “What goes up, must come down.” That perfectly describes the Bears’ momentum in middle frame. After several great offensive shifts by the Bears in the opening five minutes, none in which resulted in a goal, Albany capitalized twice to gain a 2-1 lead.
Mike Sislo tallied at the 5:57 mark of the second period to draw even. A weak shot in front of David Leggio deflected off a defenseman in front and rolled into the net.
Defensive and neutral zone turnovers plagued the Chocolate and White for the remainder of the period, leading to the Devils’ second strike with only 22 seconds left on the clock. Dane Byers shattered his stick in frustration after he turned the puck over at the defensive blue line leading to a goal scored by Tim Sestito through a screen.
Hershey trailed 2-1 into the third period, and the deficit doubled with only two minutes gone by in the final frame. Devils’ Mattias Tedenby was sent to the penalty box for a tripping infraction at the 1:33 mark. Albany countered with a shorthanded, odd-man attack 30 seconds later and scored on Leggio. Rod Pelley earned his ninth goal of the season on a quick snipe, and David Leggio was T’d up after the goal for unsportsmanlike conduct which erased the remainder of Hershey’s power play.
But with 9:11 left in regulation, Ryan Potulny received credit for a power play goal to bring Hershey within one. In the dying seconds of an opportunity-less man-advantage, a puck pin-balled in the slot off the stick of Potulny and through the five-hole of Scott Wedgewood.
The Devils’ produced seven Hershey power plays in the third period alone including two separate 5-on-3 advantages. Amazingly it was not a power play goal which tied the game late for the Bears, but rather a 4-on-4 beauty. David Kolomatis from the face-off dot shocked Wedgewood with a dart to the top shelf of the net with only 3:04 remaining.
Hershey nearly escaped with a regulation win, but the Albany penalty kill bailed out Alex Urbom after a high-sticking infraction with 1:53 left.
But regardless the Bears came away with two points after sending home the Devils in the shootout. Casey Wellman, Potulny and Gazley all scored on the skills competition to defeat Albany in four rounds.
The win marked Hershey’s sixth consecutive Giant Center victory and pushed the team to eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.