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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Bears Collar Wolf Pack

Bears Collar Wolf Pack

HARTFORD, Ct. – It was another low-scoring game for the Hershey Bears as they took on the Hartford Wolf Pack at the XL Center. This matchup was the first of back-to-back games and the last trip to that arena for the Bears this season. The Bears used a pair of first-period goals and a 30-save effort from Hunter Shepard in his second straight appearance in net to drop the Wolf Pack by a 2-1 score. Louis Domingue suffered the loss in goal with 26 saves as the two teams have each won two games in the season series between the two clubs. Hershey picks up its first win at XL Center since before the 2019-20 season was shut down due to the pandemic on March 7, 2020.

The Bears got off to a fast start as Mike Vecchione buried the rebound of a Dylan McIlrath point shot only 34 seconds into the game to open up a 1-0 lead for the visitors. The goal was Vecchione’s fifth of the season, moving him into sole possession of first place on Hershey’s roster for goals scored. He wouldn’t be alone for too long as Henrik Borgstrom buried a nice passing play. Starting it off was Mason Morelli finding Hendrix Lapierre, who then turned a quick pass to Borgstrom to bury his fifth of the season. The trio of Bears has been among the best of the team in scoring, as Morelli moved into first place on the team in points with 13 on his tenth assist of the young season. This also continues a hot streak for Morelli, with six points in as many games. Morelli had the winner in Hershey’s most recent game in a similar 2-1 decision over Springfield.

Shepard has been a big piece of the Bears’ recent success, as the goaltender put on a clinic in Friday’s performance. He turned in another big effort, including 10 saves in the third period as the Bears bent but did not break. The lone puck to hit the back of the net for Hartford came off the stick of Tim Gettinger, who forced a turnover in Hershey’s defensive zone and was able to whip the puck past Shepard from the low slot. Hartford’s scorers have done their best, as the goal is Gettinger’s team-leading sixth of the season. Still, it hasn’t been enough for the Wolf Pack to get on a roll and out of the Atlantic Division’s basement. The Wolf Pack had a power play inside of four minutes to play in regulation. It generated a few good chances for Shepard to stop. Still, the Bears’ backstop has been making noise only two days removed from making ESPN Sportscenter’s second-best play of the night with his fantastic stop in his appearance against the Springfield Thunderbirds.

The two teams will rematch on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern to see who can win their third game in the six-game season series. Looking at the standings, the Bears kept pace with the top teams in the Atlantic as Charlotte, Bridgeport, and Providence all collected points on Friday night to keep the standings board largely the same. A gap has begun forming between the bottom three teams in the division for the first time all season. It’s up to Hartford, Lehigh Valley, and Springfield to respond to the test and earn some points.

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