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AHL Game Recap/Analysis

Bears Outlast Islanders in Overtime

Bears Outlast Islanders in Overtime

HERSHEY, Pa. – Different day, different kind of game, same result for the Hershey Bears in their second overtime win. This time, it was a 2-1 victory against the Bridgeport Islanders in as many days. The Bears got the winner on a power-play goal from Sam Anas, who scored his second goal of the season after several close calls throughout the contest. The tightly contested game took on a much more defensive-oriented feel with big games from Hunter Shepard with 27 saves, while Cory Schneider made 30 stops in the loss.

For quite some time, it seemed as though the red light might never come on at the Giant Center for either side. Anas nearly scored on two separate occasions, with a shot that dribbled through Schneider but ultimately stopped on the goal line. Another opportunity from the former American Hockey League scoring champion was robbed by the goaltender’s glove hand on the rush. Bridgeport came up empty on five power-play opportunities, including an extended look on a two-man advantage. Still, the Islanders eventually broke the scoring drought just over three and a half minutes into the third period when Vincent Sevigny snuck in from the blue line and buried his second of the season past the outstretched Shepard.

It looked bleak at times for the Bears, much in the same way it did on Friday. Though the Chocolate and White continued their strong play in front of a crowd of over nine thousand fans at home when rookie forward Hendrix Lapierre got a fortunate bounce off the skate of Parker Wotherspoon in the slot. The first-round pick of the Washington Capitals made a slick move to tally his second of the season and even the score at one. It was the second straight game with a goal from Lapierre’s line with points on the board for Shane Gersich and Ethen Frank, as Lapierre and Gersich have four points in their last three games while Frank moves his scoring streak to six straight games.

In a bit of a reflection of the two team’s strengths in the early part of the season, Friday’s game saw a lot of scoring. Meanwhile, Saturday exhibited exemplary defense and a lot of bad blood in this quick two-game set that brewed quickly. While it’s only about a dozen games into the season for both clubs, it already has the makings of a good playoff series should the teams clash beyond the 72-game regular season. In the extra session, the Bears went on their fourth power play. Anas flexed his scoring muscle with a perfectly placed shot to the short side to send the Hershey faithful home happy with another two points.

“It was an emotional game tonight, two teams going at it playoff-style game,” Bears head coach Todd Nelson said after the game. “What I liked about our game tonight is that, even though there was a lot of emotion, we kept it right here [even-keeled], you know what I’m saying? We kept on playing the same way in the whole sixty minutes. It didn’t matter if we were down by one, which we were, or it was tied 1-1. Our special teams were excellent tonight, our power play during regulation had really good looks, their goaltender was outstanding. It was nice to see us get that power play goal in overtime. Our penalty kill was outstanding, we had a five-on-three we had to kill for an extended time because the clock didn’t start. Special teams won us the game tonight.”

“A lot of the emotion was warranted tonight. That’s the game of hockey, both teams were playing passionate hockey tonight. It was a great hockey game. We want to finish this homestand on the right foot moving forward to the next weekend with another three-in-three, and it’s our job as coaches to make sure the guys’ heads are in the right spot for the game tomorrow. We’re going to let the guys enjoy the win tonight and focus tomorrow morning when we get to the rink.”

The Bears extend their winning streak to five games and points in their last six overall, but the two points gained by the Islanders in the overtime decisions keeps them afloat in second place in the Atlantic Division. Saturday’s game was just the third time in 12 games this season that the Islanders have been held to less than three goals scored in the game, while Hershey won its fourth game in a row by a margin of a single goal. The Bears celebrated several milestones for their players, with Aaron Ness skating in his 600th AHL game, Kale Kessy skating in his 400th professional game, Riley Sutter appearing in his 100th game as a Bear, and Jake Massie playing his 100th professional game, all coinciding on Saturday. Hershey wraps up three games in as many nights at the Giant Center on Sunday, hosting the Laval Rocket. Bridgeport is off until they host the Charlotte Checkers on Friday night.

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