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Big Third Period Lifts Bears By Senators

#AHL | Finishing up a weekend Canadian road trip, @TheHersheyBears had one goal in mind “Don’t leave the weekend with only one point.” @FPHBears details how they overcame difficulty on the way to a regulation win over @BellevilleSens.

Big Third Period Lifts Bears By Senators

BELLEVILLE, Ont. – The Hershey Bears traveled to Belleville to take on the Senators on Saturday night in the back half of their two-game set north of the border in Canada. Sometimes the miles take a toll on players, as the Bears had a fairly subpar first 40 minutes in this game. However, they capped it off the right way with four goals in the third period en route to an important 4-2 win. Hunter Shepard got the win with 23 saves, while Kevin Mandolese made 30 saves in the game. Ethen Frank tallied two goals in the game to give him 18 on the season.

It was a lethargic start to the game for Hershey, who seemed to be a completely different team than the one that delivered a pair of big wins a week ago. The Bears’ lackluster start included coming up empty on six power-play opportunities and registering 21 shots on goal through two periods, with seldom few quality opportunities to score goals. It led to a 2-0 deficit through two periods as Scott Sabourin tallied a deflection goal and Viktor Lodin added another one late. Suddenly, it looked like the Bears could be leaving Canada with just one point.

Hershey put forward their best period of the weekend as Frank tallied a power-play goal on the Bears’ seventh opportunity of the game, cuting the deficit to one. Just over four minutes later, the Bears tied the game with a shorthanded goal for Beck Malenstyn that Mandolese would likely want back for the team’s second shorthanded goal of the campaign. While Hershey didn’t quite get the results on the power play, one clutch goal and a shorthanded tally, along with a few key penalty kills, are certainly pretty good to hang their hat on in this game.

The Bears tallied the game-winner later in the frame when Garrett Pilon took a pass from Hendrix Lapierre in the high slot and wired a shot to the twine for his third goal in three games and his fifth of the year. Pilon continues to heat up for the Bears since returning from a high ankle sprain with some key goals for the Chocolate and White. Frank added an empty-net goal to seal the victory for the Bears, who extended their point streak to six games and jumped back atop the league standings with 57 points.

It’s an important game for the Bears to win and prevent the second-place Providence Bruins from having a chance to catch up with a win on Sunday. Although Saturday’s game wasn’t the team’s most complete effort, the comeback effort in the third period separates elite teams from the rest.

In a similar trip a season ago, the Bears had a rough stretch in Canada in the latter stages of the season that resulted in a difficult finish to the season, but Todd Nelson’s bunch has navigated those tough games very well. Hershey’s top forwards continued to produce as Mike Sgarbossa registered another multi-point game with two assists, his second multi-point game of the weekend and 11th such game this season.

It’s a disappointing finish for Belleville, who lost their fifth straight contest and saw the gap to the last playoff spot increase to four points after Laval captured a point in the shootout on Saturday. The Senators and the Rocket match up in a head-to-head contest on Wednesday in an important standings battle for that playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Bears will get familiar with their in-state rivals, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, for the first time in 2023. Lehigh Valley brings a three-game winning streak back to PPL Center and should serve to be the latest challenge for the Bears to face.

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