Casey Wellman, seen here earlier in the season, scored the game winning goal during Hershey’s 3-2 win over Worcester Saturday night. (Kyle Mace / Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
At the start of the third period, Worcester Sharks’ play-by-play commentator spoke the words, “The Sharks’ season is on the line in this period.” At the moment, Worcester trailed to Chocolate and White by a 2-1 score entering the stanza.
This was a playoff games in the eyes of the Sharks, as they entered play in the tenth seed of the Eastern Conference, five points removed from the Bears and six from Norfolk. Dan DaSilva tied the game for Worcester with the extra attacker on the ice in the final minute, sending the game to overtime. But Casey Wellman ended the game in Hershey’s favor by finishing a quick, breakaway chance at the OT’s 2:49 mark, to conclude a massive 3-2 victory.
Following an event less opening period, the game’s scoring quickly picked up in the second period. 94 seconds in, Chad Rau tipped in his third goal of the season through the pads of Philipp Grubauer from the top of the crease.
Caleb Herbert, fresh off his first goal as a professional hockey player on Wednesday, continued to create scoring chances in the opening 40 minutes. Herbert was finally rewarded with the game tying goal, his second tally of his professional career, with 12:32 remaining before the expiration of the frame.
Chay Genoway, known for his timely goals, struck 3:54 later to give Hershey their first lead of the night. Genoway fired a bomb from the left point that beat Troy Grosenick to put his club on top entering second intermission.
The Bears were 34.3 seconds away from a regulation win in Worcester, before Dan DaSilva tied the game at 2-2 and forced overtime. Casey Wellman slipped behind the defense with a quick breakaway lane and scored top shelf on Grosenick to provide his club with two more standings points, lifting the team total to 80.
Out of town, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins again provided help to Hershey. A 1-0 overtime win over the Albany Devils put the Bears three points back from the seventh seed, with one game in the Bears’ hand over Albany. I think it’s officially time to consider the Pens a “frenemy.” Google might be able to provide a better definition for frenemy than I can.
Following the win, the Bears briefly held possession of the eighth seed, until the Norfolk Admirals finalized a 6-3 victory over the Binghamton Senators to reclaim the spot.
Best advice I can give when scoreboard watching, do not take your eye off the Albany Devils and focus soulfully on only Norfolk. The Bears are in a position where seventh seed Albany is still extremely catch-able. Even if the Admirals go on a spectacular run to finish the regular season, it does not wipe out Hershey’s playoff chances by any means.
The possibility still exists of having Norfolk-Hershey finish in seventh and eighth, with the Devils setting tee times at a local golf course in late April.
Hershey returns to the ice the next afternoon with a 3pm matinee against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Our friends at ABC 27 will have the telecast on the RTV channel.