The Giant Center goal horn was held silent on Saturday night when the Syracuse Crunch blanked the Bears by a 5-0 count. It ended a 12 game Giant Center win streak for the Chocolate and White, but eyes quickly turned towards an opportunity for revenge the next night.
Sunday was the second annual AHL Showcase held at Verizon Center in our nation’s capital. Last year Ryan Potulny was the hero en route to a 2-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals.
This year the Bears-Crunch battled in Washington D.C. only days before resumption of National Hockey League play. The Tampa Bay Lightning lead affiliate potted five more goals on Philipp Grubauer for the second consecutive night and topped Hershey, 5-2.
In an eventless opening stanza, Vladislav Namestnikov drew first blood for Syracuse with only 37 seconds remaining on the time clock. After a Richard Panik shot, Namestnikov tallied on Philipp Grubauer’s rebound to put his club ahead at intermission.
But luckily for the Bears, the 80-plus minute shutout streak ended against the Crunch only 1:57 into the second frame. Jeff Taffe knotted the score on the power play after jamming home a rebound following a Ryan Stoa shot from the right face off circle.
You would think Taffe’s goal plus power play chance followed by power play chance would turn the momentum in Hershey’s favor. That wasn’t the case, as the Crunch’s aggressive penalty kill unit halted the Bears to one PPG on the night out of an eventual seven chances.
Richard Panik and Mike Angelidis scored 4:16 apart in the middle frame for Syracuse to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The Bears were caught flat footed in the neutral zone on numerous occasions leading to odd-man rushes and quick combination plays to beat a helpless Grubauer. A side from the Crunch’s first goal of the night which was generated off a rebound, Grubauer can’t really be faulted for any other Syracuse strikes.
Nicolas Deschamps trimmed Hershey’s deficit to a lone goal with 2:30 remaining in the period. A quick burst of speed and wrap around chance caught Cedrick Desjardins leaning to the wrong side.
But it was Syracuse who prevailed in the third period with two late insurance tallies to send the Hershey favored crowd home unhappy. Panik assisted on two more goals in the final period to push his point total on the game to four.
Panik shrugged off a check when storming into the offensive end and sent a perfect cross-ice pass for Dana Tyrell to slam dunk into the net with 10:59 remaining.
The Bears did not make a late third period push and press for a rally, but rather took two lack of discipline penalties in the final minute to give Syracuse a 5-on-3 chance. Jon DiSalvatore put the final nail in Hershey’s coffin after a combination passing play with 3:22 left in the contest to put the game out of reach.
The Bears return to the ice on February 25th for the regular season series finale against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. It will be Hershey’s first Tuesday tilt of the season and will be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre.