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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Bears Down Islanders in OT For Milestone Win

Bears Down Islanders in OT For Milestone Win

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Hershey Bears and Bridgeport Islanders met up on Tuesday morning for a game with huge playoff implications for two teams jockeying for positioning in the Atlantic Division. The Bears and Islanders concluded their regular season series of games with the decision, and much like the rest of the games played between the two teams, this one went beyond regulation with Kody Clark scoring the decisive goal to give Hershey their 3,000th win in franchise history and snap a four-game losing skid. The back-and-forth contest saw the teams swap leads three times as each team earned a point in the standings race.

Hershey opened the scoring early in this one as a goal that was credited to Clark that may ultimately be awarded to forward Drake Rymsha for his first as a Bear. Clark drove the net and let a shot fly that appeared to deflect off of Rymsha and fool Cory Schneider to open the scoring just over a minute and a half into the game. Schneider, fresh off of winning an NHL start for the New York Islanders over the weekend, stepped back into the crease for Bridgeport and made 37 saves on 41 shots for the game. In the second period, despite a 16-7 edge in shots favoring the Bears, it was the Islanders who rattled off a pair of goals from Kyle MacLean and Jeff Kubiak to take a 2-1 lead going into the third period.

The Bears have notoriously struggled in this recent stretch with coming back from deficits, particularly when trailing after two periods of play. Hershey finallu bucked this trend in this game as the team got a goal from another new source as Eddie Wittchow wired a wrist shot past the glove of the goaltender for his first of the season and first since the finale of the 2020-21 season to even the count at one. Hershey quickly followed it up with Brett Leason’s second goal in as many games in a similar fashion as he fired a shot short side much as he did on Saturday in Charlotte for his fourth of the season. The Bears suddenly turned the tables back on the Islanders, taking a 3-2 lead with ten minutes to play in regulation.

The Islanders have been battling for their playoff lives at this point and sitting just south of sixth place in the Atlantic Division with only seven more games to play this season, wouldn’t give up on this game. Chris Terry, the leading scorer for these Islanders continued his fantastic play this season with his 25th goal of the season, whipping a puck on Pheonix Copley from below the goal line and got a bit of a break as it dribbled around in his pads and just over the goal line to even the scoring at three. Copley, who made 25 saves on 28 shots for the game, played well but was on the wrong side of a bounce on the goal. The game then went to overtime where Clark tallied the winning goal, moving the puck past a defender and sliding a backhand shot through Schneider to finally give the Bears their historic 3,000th win.

Getting the win is a huge relief for the Bears, who have sat on the cusp of the milestone for the last four games to the point it felt like a bit of a jinx to even bring it up. The Bears, much like the Islanders, continue to battle for positioning down the stretch and appreciate the extra point and increase to their points percentage, which gets a little boost with ten games to play in the regular season. Hershey concludes their road swing on Friday when they travel to PPL Center to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, but the trip might as well have concluded today as this game is the team’s last trip outside of the Pennsylvania state border. The Bears had a lot of issues with travel coming off of their weekend set in Charlotte that saw flights cancelled and a bus company that bailed on them on the trip as well as 13 hours spent on the bus to get to Bridgeport.

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