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Bears Blank Thunderbirds

Bears Blank Thunderbirds

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – In an Atlantic Division showdown between the Hershey Bears and the Springfield Thunderbirds on Friday night, the visiting Bears got a busy weekend off to a great start with a 28 save shutout for Pheonix Copley. The Bears sent the Thunderbirds to their third straight loss without scoring a goal after a lot of roster turmoil for their NHL affiliate, the St. Louis Blues. Joel Hofer made 25 saves in the loss for the Thunderbirds.

That’s not to say it was a lopsided game by any means. The Bears have been dealing with losses to their lineup, with several key players in the NHL with the Washington Capitals for an extended period of time, but new heroes have stepped up to make up for those losses. Two of those players continued their hot streaks to open the scoring on Friday when Mike Vecchione smacked home a rebound of a Joe Snively shot to put the visitors up 1-0. The goal came just after a power play expired but extended the point streaks of the duo to seven straight games.

The recent scoring woes of the Thunderbirds are well documented over the last few games. The loss extends their scoreless streak to just over 180 minutes, having scored in the last half-minute prior to this skid. However, Springfield was not shut out through a lack of effort in this game, putting pucks on Copley and narrowly outshooting Hershey by one and came up empty in four power-play attempts. Hershey played an exceptional team game on defense and has been better since coming back from a two-week hiatus. Instead, the Bears extended their lead to two on a great feed from Garrett Pilon to Matt Moulson. The Hershey captain smoothly deposited the puck home going forehand to backhand for his fourth of the season.

The primary assist for Pilon was his 100th regular season point in the AHL, and the Bears clamped down well to earn the clean sheet for Copley, who has been strong of late in his new Bears colored equipment set. Copley was one of a few players to make an attempt on the empty net late in regulation, looking to become the first goaltender in Hershey’s storied hockey history to do so. It, unfortunately, clipped off a defender en route. Copley will certainly settle for the shutout, though, as the Bears won their third straight away from Giant Center.

Hershey has a quick turnaround as the team continues a challenging set of five games in six nights this week and will host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday. Springfield is playing three games in as many nights this weekend and preparing for a home and home set with the Hartford Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack and Thunderbirds are now feeling some heat in the Atlantic Division race, as the points swing brings Hershey closer to the conversation for the top two spots.

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