HERSHEY, Pa. – It felt like the goal that would win the first of two games between the Hershey Bears and the Bridgeport Islanders at Giant Center on Friday night would be a special end to an exciting tilt. The two teams traded goals all night long. In extra time, the lone shot proved to be the winner off the stick of defenseman Vincent Iorio, whose first American Hockey League goal got the Bears the extra point in a 4-3 victory. Zach Fucale earned the win with 29 saves, while Jakub Skarek suffered the setback with 32 stops.
The matchup was billed as a duel between the league’s top offense versus one of the best in terms of defense, and it certainly lived up to the expectations as the two teams traded scoring chances all night long, with goals for each team in each of the three periods. Hudson Fasching got the scoring started less than two minutes into the first, beating Fucale on the first shot of the game on a short two-on-one break to give Bridgeport the early lead. Hershey responded just over eight minutes into the frame when Ethen Frank took a pass from Shane Gersich and powered past the Islanders’ defense, launching a shot to the corner of the net to even the score at one. Frank’s goal continues a hot streak for the former NCAA scoring champion, who has a goal in each of his last five games and has been a key cog for Hershey so far.
The Islanders would strike again in the middle stanza with Fasching’s second of the game, chipping a rebound in the low slot in and out of the net in a flash to lift the visitors to the lead. Fasching’s two goals lifts him to five on the season and second on the team in terms of goals scored, trailing only Andy Andreoff with six. Hershey’s fourth line, which started the game and was praised by the coaching staff for their work ethic, evened the count at two by keeping the puck in at the blue line and capitalizing on Kale Kessy’s first of the season, stashing a rebound past Skarek.
In the third period, the teams traded goals once again, starting with the Bears. Gersich was rewarded with another tally against the Islanders after much success against the team a season ago, taking a perfect feed from Hendrix Lapierre from below the goal line and beating Skarek for his second of the season. Bridgeport found a way to tie it with Kyle MacLean’s second goal of the season, tapping a rebound past Fucale to even things up at three. In the extra session, the Bears possessed the puck for most of the frame, and Iorio would step into a shot from the point through some traffic to score his first AHL goal and win the game for the Bears. Iorio, Gersich, and Frank all finished with a goal and an assist for the Bears.
Vincent Iorio scores his first professional goal to win it in overtime for the Bears! #BRIvsHER @FieldPassHockey pic.twitter.com/vjAV63ez3k
— Bears Hockey Nation (@HBHNationBlog) November 12, 2022
“It was a good two points and against a good hockey team,” Bears head coach Todd Nelson said after the game. “They’re a team that plays hard and plays within their system and I thought tonight we had some good spurts, some spurts that weren’t so great, stuff that’s fixable. We’ll have to watch some video tomorrow to correct those things, but we were kind of inconsistent tonight, I thought our third period was better, but we had a good start and our second wasn’t too great. We have another game against them tomorrow and it’s a tough team to play against.”
As Hershey’s head coach mentioned, the two teams clash again tomorrow night in the second game of the set and the second of six games overall. The Bears extended their win streak to four games and point streak to five, while the Islanders suffered their second straight loss despite getting a point in this one. The Bears can potentially pull even with the Islanders in points with a regulation win on Saturday, making the remainder of the set interesting for its impact on the Atlantic Division leaderboard.
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