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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Bears Break Through in Shootout Win

Bears Break Through in Shootout Win

HARTFORD, Ct. – Hockey is a sport that many prefer to soccer because it typically features a few more goals getting scored just by the nature of the game. If you were tuning in to the game between the Hershey Bears and the Hartford Wolf Pack on Saturday for that reason, you’d walk away disappointed as the two Atlantic Division foes did not put a puck over the goal line in 65 minutes of game action. Both Dylan Garand and Zach Fucale earned shutouts in this one, but a pair of goals by Connor McMichael and Mike Sgarbossa in the shootout lifted the Bears to their third straight road, this one by a 1-0 score.

Although both goaltenders earned clean sheets in this game, Garand had to work much harder for his. Just in sheer numbers alone, the Bears fired 38 shots at him in contrast to just 16 shots off the sticks of Wolf Pack skaters. For Garand, this was his first professional shutout. This latest victory continues a trend of Hershey managing to win some very close games, with Saturday being their third straight win on the road and third straight win by a margin of a single goal. Although this was the first to go beyond sixty minutes. The win was Hershey’s first experience skating in a shootout, whereas Hartford has one win in five tries this season. After a slow first period, the Bears matched a season-high with 18 shots on goal to just four for the Wolf Pack and a 10-3 margin in the third.

There were some scary moments that might have gone against the Bears in the past, including a partially blocked shot that fluttered in on Fucale that the Hershey keeper held his ground to keep out. The shootout featured a bit more drama than regulation did, as Hartford struck first with Jonny Brodzinski to open the scoring. Brodzinski seemed to be the author of most of the Wolf Pack’s good chances throughout regulation as he threatened on several occasions to send the visiting Bears packing. Although Hershey hasn’t been the best at shootouts historically, it’d be hard-pressed to see evidence of it on Saturday as the team came right back with McMichael’s tally in the bottom of the first round.

Fucale made a couple of saves, and the Bears got some magic from Sgarbossa to earn the extra point. Sgarbossa has dazzled at different moments in his time in Hershey with some brilliant shootout goals, and he came up big with a goal that ended the game in the bottom of the third round.

Hershey seemed to be able to flex its offensive muscle a bit in the shootout, with some of their scorers coming through. The Bears didn’t need to utilize players like Henrik Borgstrom, who is a career four-for-four in the shootout, or Hendrix Lapierre.

Hershey continues to push in the standings, taking sole possession of second place with 26 points but still trail the Providence Bruins by three points, courtesy of an overtime win for the P-Bruins on Saturday. Hartford drops to 3-4-0-3 in their last ten and remain in the basement of the division at just 15 points.

Hershey returns home to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the fifth matchup between the two Pennsylvania rivals on Tuesday evening at Giant Center, while Hartford is idle until Saturday when they host the Rockford IceHogs. The Bears and the Wolf Pack won’t match up again until February 11, and that game will be the last installment of the season series between the two teams.

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