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Hartford Wolf Pack

Late Goal Lifts Pack Past Bears

HERSHEY, Pa. – A restocked Hartford Wolf Pack were able to get past the Hershey Bears in the second game of a back-to-back at Giant Center. The Wolf Pack received a slew of their top players back after brief assignments to the New York Rangers, and a late goal from Justin Richards that got by Bears goaltender Zach Fucale with just under three minutes to play that stood up as the game-winner despite just 19 shots on goal for the visitors. Adam Huska bounced back from a tough stint in relief on Saturday with 24 saves for the win.

The teams traded goals in the first two periods, with Tanner Fritz opening the scoring on a broken play, burying a free puck at the side of Fucale after the Hershey defense put it back on the Hartford sticks. Hershey responded late in the frame when Joe Snively scored his 13th goal of the season on the power play to even the count going into intermission. In the second, it would again be Hartford jumping out to the lead when top scorer Jonny Brodzinski scored in his return to the lineup courtesy of a great feed from Zac Jones. Brodzinski’s goal was his 12th of the season and his fifth straight game with a goal as he continues his hot streak, not unlike Hershey’s Snively. The Bears would get even late in the frame with Mike Vecchione’s sixth goal of the season courtesy of a great pass from Shane Gersich. Hershey’s top guns continued to produce on this night, as Gersich has seven points in his past seven games played.

The tally from Richards was a backbreaker for Hershey, according to head coach Scott Allen after the game. The goal continues a recent hot streak for the forward, who has tallied four points in four games. The decision shuffles the deck once again in terms of the Atlantic Division standings, dropping the Bears into fourth place and lifting the Wolf Pack into second place. The standings, determined by points percentage, have the Bears and Springfield Thunderbirds tied for the most points in the division, but trail the leading two teams.

“To hold that team to 19 shots is a credit to our guys,” Allen said. “To do some of the things we did is a credit to our guys. We should still be out there playing right now, at the very least that game should have gone to overtime. Again, it’s disappointing, disheartening.”

The Bears won’t have much time to be concerned about the loss, as they’ll face off with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Tuesday evening for a chance to improve their place in the standings. Hartford has now won two of three games between the two teams this season with three more matchups remaining. The two teams will meet again to open the month of February for the third and final meeting at Giant Center.

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