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Morelli’s Pair Lift Bears Past T-Birds in OT

Both the Hershey Bears and Springfield Thunderbirds were playing 180 minutes of hockey over three days, and it turned out they’d need a little extra time

Morelli’s Pair Lift Bears Past T-Birds in OT

HERSHEY, Pa. – Both the Hershey Bears and the Springfield Thunderbirds were playing 180 minutes of hockey over three days, and it turned out they’d need a little extra time to decide their last game of the weekend as the game went beyond regulation.

With both teams looking for a hero, Hershey’s Mason Morelli would emerge as the hero with a snipe just over two minutes into the extra session to get the Bears the extra point. The win helps Hershey keep pace in a busy Atlantic Division standings night that saw a few rivals earn points.

The Bears had a quick start to the game and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Shane Gersich would get on the board with a goal in his second straight game and in similar fashion to the night before, getting to the net front and deflecting a shot past Joel Hofer just 36 seconds into the game to make it 1-0 Hershey. The Bears would follow that goal up towards the end of the period when Morelli would score the first of two goals by picking up a loose puck and ripping a shot past Hofer to double the lead. The goal continued a new single-season best for Morelli, who hit double digits in goals with the tally.

However, Springfield would battle back into the game and chip away at the lead combined with some big saves from Hofer. Hugh McGing would cut into the lead by taking a stretch pass from Nathan Todd and tucking the puck past Zach Fucale to make it 2-1. Hofer made a key save shorthanded when Gersich fed the puck to Brett Leason and stopped it with the glove, and the Thunderbirds would even the score when Brady Lyle stepped in and fired a blast through Fucale to even the score at two. The difference would come in the extra session, when the Bears would fire the puck back to Fucale and set up on the rush. Gersich would carry the puck up and drop it to Morelli, who fired the puck through a partial screen for his 11th of the season to earn Hershey a key second point and their second straight win.

“We knew it would be a tough Sunday, especially against a team that’s been at the top of the division,” Bears head coach Scott Allen said after the win. “They’d already lost two this weekend including last night to us, and I’m sure there was pressure in that room not to lose this weekend. I give our guys a ton of credit, especially in the sense that sometimes when we score early in the game it doesn’t hold for us, and it did today. I liked how we responded after the initial goal, I liked that we were up 2-0, it’s a great team, they came back and they’re very well-coached. They found a way to tie it up, we hung in strong down the stretch, and a fantastic goal from Mason Morelli to get the game-winner.”

The win was an important one for the standings race which saw both the Hartford Wolf Pack and Bridgeport Islanders notch wins. Earning points will also help against the idle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who now have two games in hand over the Bears but now have to play catch-up in the standings after having previously jumped to fourth place.

Hershey has now won five straight games at Giant Center but will hit the road for four of their next five games. Those matchups include two big standings games at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Penguins as well as their last two trips to PPL Center, where the team would no doubt like to earn some wins in this stretch. Hershey’s remaining road schedule will be complete inside of the next two weeks.

A pair of big wins over the division leaders are sure to build some confidence ahead of a crucial schedule.

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