HERSHEY, Pa. – After an emotional pair of games against the Bridgeport Islanders, it would have been perfectly understandable if the Hershey Bears had a letdown game in their third game in three nights. But by and large, the Bears passed another test early in the season on Sunday night with a 4-1 decision over the visiting Laval Rocket. A first-period power-play goal by Bobby Nardella proved to be the winner, and a 25-save performance from Zach Fucale was the difference in this one. Kevin Poulin suffered the loss with 23 saves for Laval and added to the recent struggles of the Rocket.
The Bears jumped out to the lead just over six minutes into the game when Hendrix Lapierre scored his third goal of the season and second in as many nights on a confident cut to the net, where his shot beat Poulin to open the scoring. Lapierre’s line, which was without Ethen Frank due to injury, kept on rolling as Shane Gersich registered an assist for his fifth point in four games, while Gabriel Carlsson tallied the first of two assists on the night in his return to the lineup. Hershey doubled its lead on the power play at the tail end of their first power play as Nardella ripped his second goal of the season past Poulin. Lapierre tallied the primary assist to give him a multi-point night.
Hershey kept their foot on the gas pedal by getting the only goal of the middle stanza and giving up only three shots on goal. Sam Anas scored his second goal in as many games in taking a feed from Carlsson and beating the goaltender with a slick move to further increase the Bears’ lead in front of a crowd of over nine thousand at the Giant Center. Anas has heated up as of late for Hershey, tallying six points in as many games to give the Bears some much-needed scoring variety. Lost in the shuffle a bit, Mason Morelli registered his eighth assist of the season as he continues to lead the team in helpers.
The momentum shifted a little in the third period as Laval got on the board with Anthony Richard’s ninth of the season, beating Fucale short side on the rush to give the Rocket some life. Later, a play was reviewed after a shot hit the crossbar, going down and out rather than over the line. This play seemed to turn the tide back in Hershey’s favor as the Bears would ride out the remainder of regulation and tally an empty-net goal by Henry Rybinski to seal the win. Hershey’s victory is the sixth in a row and the seventh straight with a point, completing a perfect weekend with three wins.
A home three-in-three SWEEP! Thanks to a two-point game from Hendrix Lapierre, Hershey topped Laval 4-1 to win their sixth straight game. Here are the highlights. pic.twitter.com/24MC0cO9bh
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) November 14, 2022
“Two really emotional games against Bridgeport and then playing against a team that I think is way better than their record indicates,” Bears head coach Todd Nelson said after the game. “They played hard tonight, they had us on our heels a bit in the second period, we were opportunistic in some situations to score goals and they came at us hard in the third period. Our guys dug in, it’s tough in a three-in-three whether you’re traveling or not but I liked the way the guys handled it and it’s a big week for us.”
“It was better but it’s not where it needs to be,” Nelson said of his team’s finish. “They got one on us and kept on surging, and then they’re reviewing a goal that possibly could have went in and if that happens I think it gives them more life. It kind of woke our guys up a bit but we gotta learn from these experiences, but we stuck to it and after that situation I thought we got better in the third.”
The win moves the Bears to 8-2-2-0 on the season and into second place in the Atlantic Division. Hershey only trails Providence for first place in the division as the P-Bruins also won on Sunday evening, but unfortunately, the first-place Bruins and second-place Bears will not meet until the last pair of games of the calendar year. The Bears will face another test with their third set of three games in as many nights next weekend, starting with another tilt with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while the Rocket will play host to the Abbotsford Canucks on Wednesday night.
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