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Morelli’s Heroics Lift Bears to Overtime Win

Morelli’s Heroics Lift Bears to Overtime Win

HERSHEY, Pa – The Hershey Bears found a new hero on Thanksgiving Eve and rallied for a 4-3 win in overtime over the Providence Bruins in an exciting contest at Giant Center. Mason Morelli provided the game-winner with his first in a Hershey uniform that stood after a review to earn an important extra point for the Bears.

Hershey rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead. However, Providence would also get a goal of their own to even the count at three. Zach Fucale earned the win with 22 saves, while Troy Grosenick suffered the loss with 28 saves.

Despite a pretty strong game from the Bears, the Bruins jumped out to the early lead on a goal from Cameron Hughes, his first of the season. Hughes stashed the puck past Fucale with under two minutes to go in the first period to turn the tables on the Bears. Providence would double that lead in the second period when Steven Fogarty capitalized on a two-man advantage for his fifth of the season.

Hershey shifted the momentum when Dylan McIlrath dropped the gloves with Ian McKinnon in a spirited scrap that saw McIlrath land a series of big blows and got the home crowd into the game. The Bears would capitalize on that momentum. Joe Snively forced the puck loose with Providence going backward on the power play and beat Grosenick for the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season. This tally cut the lead to one going into the third period.

The Bears scored twice in a short span when Garrett Pilon beat Grosenick on a mad scramble aided by Snively and Matt Moulson on the power play to draw even at two. Less than a minute later, Morelli made a slick pass on the rush to Shane Gersich, who beat Grosenick to give Hershey the lead.

Moulson had two assists in rapid succession, and Snively continues to be the team’s hottest player with another two-point game. Additional scoring from Gersich and Morelli helped the Bears on a night following a personnel swap with the Washington Capitals that saw Mike Sgarbossa and Beck Malenstyn trade places with Pilon and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. While the Bears were in action, Sgarbossa scored his first goal with the Caps in their win over the Montreal Canadiens.

However, the Bruins did not quit, aided quite a bit by their special teams, which saw them get nine cracks at the man advantage in the game. Providence had four of those opportunities in the third period alone. They finally broke through when Jack Ahcan beat Fucale to bring the game even at three apiece and send the teams to overtime.

The large crowd of 8,549 was treated to a great game and an excellent finish. Michal Kempny and Morelli found themselves on an odd-man rush. Morelli quickly put the rebound of Kempny’s shot on goal that stuck to the upper right part of the net and was deemed a good goal after a brief review.

“We know we have to tighten things up,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the game. “But we showed a lot of resolve, a lot of persistence, guts, battle. Guys stuck together. How about Dylan McIlrath? Getting going for us, outstanding.”

On a night where key divisional opponents like the Charlotte Checkers and Springfield Thunderbirds also collected wins, it ended up being a critical win to earn a couple of crucial points. The Bruins earned one point to keep pace in the hectic Atlantic Division race that has four teams separated by only three points for third through sixth place, leaving a lot of intrigue as the season goes on.

Hershey will next be in action on Friday when the team goes to Rochester in a clash of the AHL’s two oldest teams. Meanwhile, Providence will be visiting the Bridgeport Islanders on the same day.

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