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Battered Bears Beat Thunderbirds

Battered Bears Beat Thunderbirds

HERSHEY, Pa. – Hershey Bears head coach Scott Allen referred to the “next man up” mentality after Hershey’s 5-3 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds, and in many ways, it’s fitting that the Bears won Sunday’s contest by virtue of Joe Snively’s second career hat trick. The hat trick was his first three goals of the season and helped lift the Bears from a 3-2 deficit.

The Bears jumped out to another impressive start and removed any doubt about their ability to score a day after being blanked by the Providence Bruins. Hershey tallied a power-play goal when Mike Sgarbossa jammed home his fourth goal of the season at the front of the net, and defender Bobby Nardella earned an assist on the goal in his return to the lineup off of injury. It’s been 609 days since Nardella wore a Bears jersey in game action, as the blueliner played in the SHL last season and missed significant time with an injury that delayed his start to this season, but he played very well in his return.

Hershey’s “next man up” mentality has been on display a lot the last few weeks. Still, it was kicked up a notch on Sunday in the absence of impressive forward Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, who did not play and was revealed to have been called up to the Washington Capitals in the middle of tonight’s game, as well as Cody Franson. Without those key players, in addition to the team’s lengthy injury list, the team needed some more players to step up to fill the void. Enter Snively, who scored his first of the season by receiving a great pass from Shane Gersich and scoring on a breakaway to extend the lead to 2-0.

However, the Thunderbirds battled back with the next three goals. Dakota Joshua opened the scoring by taking a deflection at the front of Zach Fucale to get the visitors on the board, followed by a power-play goal by Nathan Todd on a similar deflection to even the count at two. Springfield tallied their second power-play goal when Logan Brown found a loose puck at the net mouth to turn a deficit into a lead. It was a good night for the Thunderbirds on special teams, converting twice in four attempts, and it looked as though Springfield could clamp down and take a win.

Hershey needed a bit of luck to even the score, and they got just that when a dump-in took a fortunate bounce onto the stick of Kody Clark, who fed Kale Kessy to tie the game at three. The goal is Kessy’s first of the season, and continues a trend from last season of the enforcer scoring crucial goals for the Bears, and evened the count at three. Then, a power-play opportunity with just under five minutes to play in regulation led to Snively’s second goal, firing a blocked shot by Michal Kempny past Charlie Lindgren to give Hershey the lead. Snively followed the goal up with an empty-net tally from his own zone to seal the deal and earn the hat trick.

It was the second straight night in which the Bears welcomed former players back to Giant Center for the first time, with forward Nathan Walker making his first appearance in Hershey since the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs. The win allowed Hershey to earn three points on the weekend, and getting players like Snively on the board helps make the loss of key personnel easier to bear. Neither team gets a break this week, as Hershey will host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Wednesday while Springfield faces the Providence Bruins that same day.

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