HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Bears and Toronto Marlies met up at Giant Center for the first time since the 2018-19 season with plenty of new faces to go around on both sides. In a spirited tilt, the teams traded leads and went beyond regulation time but in the end, the Marlies started their lengthy road trip with a win courtesy of a rebound goal for Alex Steeves early in overtime. Erik Kallgren would earn the win in a split between he and goaltender Joseph Woll, who left midway through the contest with an apparent injury. The duo allowed three goals on 44 total Hershey shots, while Zach Fucale suffered the loss for the Bears, with 18 saves on 22 shots.
For Hershey, it was some habits building into success as the Bears opened the scoring with their sixth shorthanded goal of the season and the 11th of the year for Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. Instead of simply driving the puck the length of the pond under pressure, Jonsson-Fjallby started with the puck in front of his net and made a nice pass to Brian Pinho, turning into a rush as Lucas Johansen fed the Swedish sensation on the rush. Hershey fired 22 shots on Woll during the first period, but only led by one after the first, and it turned out to be a difference-maker as the Marlies tied the game early in the second with Filip Kral’s second of the season. Hershey would retake the lead with Garrett Pilon’s 12th of the season on a smooth tuck past Woll to make it 2-1. Steeves would get his first of two goals in a similar fashion, potting a rebound past Fucale fast and effectively to even the count going into the final frame.
The third period would see the Marlies go ahead on a goal by Josh Ho-Sang, his 11th of the season. Much like Wednesday’s game against the Bridgeport Islanders, Hershey would find a way to even the score in the third with a nice goal for Tobias Geisser, continuing his hot play of late after a two-point night on Wednesday as his shot found a way through traffic to even the score. Despite a 15-6 shot advantage in the third, the Bears were unable to find a way to end the game and set the stage for overtime, where Steeves’ second goal of the game would end it after some lengthy possession. The script has been flipped on the Bears of late, who have six overtime wins but have now seen two losses beyond 60 minutes in their last two games.
“Disappointing way to lose,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the game. “We have to find a way to generate more offense five on five, in the last couple of games it just hasn’t been enough. We’re getting looks, we’re getting opportunities, we’re just not finding the back of the net. At the end of the day, when you let a team stick around, and that’s basically what they did. Unfortunately, it can go either way when it gets to overtime and I thought we made some poor puck decisions in overtime that weren’t potential scoring chances. You have to do a better job at managing the puck against a skill team like that, they are very skilled, as shown that’s how it ended.”
Although the loss is certainly disappointing for the Bears, the point earned combined with some help out of town as the Providence Bruins dealt the Springfield Thunderbirds a regulation loss to lift Hershey’s point percentage into first place for at least this evening. It’s a nice reward for the hard work by the team of late, as the Bears earned a point for the fourth straight game despite not finding the extra one. The results are starting to show as the Bears are in a very good spot nearing the halfway mark of a 76-game schedule.
“We have no choice, right?” Allen said when asked about earning points in losses. “It is what it is. Points are always big. If we’re going to lose, I’ll take it in overtime or a shootout as opposed to regulation because it’s a long year, and the craziness about the American Hockey League is that it doesn’t go by points, it goes by winning percentage because some teams in the same division are playing different amounts of games which is a little crazy to me, so we’ll have to take them where we can get them.”
We picked up a point to move into the division lead, but the Marlies earned a 4-3 overtime win tonight, despite goals from Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Garrett Pilon, and Tobias Geisser. Here are the highlights. #HBH pic.twitter.com/W8K39ZKlV4
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) January 16, 2022
Among other noteworthy stats, Joe Snively continued his impressive points production with an assist on the Geisser goal, extending the current streak to nine games with at least one point. Jonsson-Fjallby posted two points to pull him within two of his single-season best of 23.
The Bears will return to action on Sunday afternoon with the latest installment of their season series with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, while the Marlies will be in Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
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