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Hartford Wolf Pack

Bears Drop Fifth Straight

HARTFORD, Conn. – It was another spirit-breaking loss for the Hershey Bears on Saturday, their fifth loss in a row this time to the Hartford Wolf Pack by a score of 3-1. The defining moment of the game saw scoring forward Garrett Pilon exit once again with another shoulder injury on the same play that the game-winning goal was scored by Tanner Fritz as the Bears once more could not find enough offense to stay in the game despite a 26-save effort from Hunter Shepard. Keith Kinkaid picked up the win with 24 saves and a very good bounce off the post that saved the game from getting interesting late.

Penalty trouble haunted the Bears thanks to some lopsided power play numbers, seven on the game for Hartford versus two for Hershey in total. As has been the case over the past few weeks, despite a good enough game from the Bears through the first 40 minutes of action, the team would fall behind by a goal going into the third period.

In this case, Matt Lorito would score on the power play to open the scoring at 1-0. Hershey started the third period strong by getting the equalizing goal by Aliaksei Protas for his fourth goal in the AHL this season, but the Fritz goal came on the rush as Pilon was lying hurt on the ice at one end, and no whistle stopped the Wolf Pack from coming down the ice and getting a bit of a good bounce as the puck careened off of Mason Morelli and in the net. Hartford would seal the deal off of another power-play goal a few minutes later.

At times, it seems like the offense has run dry for the Bears despite some strong pushes and chances generated, but it’s hard to deny that the offensive firepower from Pilon, Mike Sgarbossa, Matt Moulson, Joe Snively, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Brian Pinho, and Lucas Johansen were all absent from Saturday’s game, but their absence hasn’t impacted the team in this recent stretch and really all season long. Add in the loss of Connor McMichael from a season ago and suddenly the Bears are looking like a team that has unfortunately been stretched too thin right now and all season long in some ways. The free fall from first place in the Atlantic at one point to fifth has been a byproduct of a lack of scoring as well as a drought in current offensive personnel.

Hershey gets back at it for a home game with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Tuesday evening at Giant Center with a chance to get back on track. The Bears have struggled with the Phantoms for most of the season and winning a game over their local rival would be a great way to get things back on track. The only good news for the Bears on this day is the loss for rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, which prevents the loss in points percentage from affecting them any more seriously. Despite this, it makes jockeying for positioning in the expanded postseason format more difficult, and as each day passes, it makes the idea of being in the first or second spot seem like a distant dream.

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