HERSHEY, Pa. – Sometimes, hockey is a cruel game where the result isn’t necessarily the one that was deserved. That was the case on Sunday night at the Giant Center where the Hershey Bears put up 40 shots on the Laval Rocket and goaltender Cayden Primeau, but a series of unfortunate calls and a lack of finished opportunities led to a 4-2 win for the visitors. Rafael Harvey-Pinard tallied the winning goal on a penalty shot, and a goal that was overturned for the Bears provided the drama in the third period.
The teams traded goals in the first two periods, with Cody Franson netting his second power-play goal in as many games. Terrance Amorosa answered towards the end of the frame with his first goal of the season on a point shot. In the second, Laval would score shorthanded when Gabriel Bourque finished an odd-man rush to put the Rocket up by one goal. A few minutes later, Alex Alexeyev would tally his first of the season jumping into the zone and roofing a shot past Primeau to even the count once more.
The final frame would provide the most drama, when Mike Vecchione appeared to give the Bears a 3-2 lead on a back door feed in his second game returning from injury. The goal was waived off, determined to be a kicking motion, and kept the score tied at two. Only a few minutes later, Laval would get another shorthanded chance that became a penalty shot for Harvey-Pinard despite Vecchione’s proximity to the shooter, and he’d score past Zach Fucale that would eventually stand up as the game-winner. Harvey-Pinard would score one more goal to finish the game off with just over a minute and a half to play.
“I’m proud of our guys,” a vexed Hershey head coach Scott Allen said postgame. “I’m proud of the way we played. We came here after playing last night, they were sitting here waiting for us, I thought we did enough in the game to deserve a better fate than we got in the game.”
The Bears bench boss held back from discussing his thoughts on the controversial calls, but felt his team could tighten up more.
“Early on in the game, I think we were a little too wide open and tried to play a game that they (Laval) play, which is reckless and careless and not very much attention to detail, hence the 40-21 difference in shots. But, it worked out for them tonight and unfortunately it didn’t work out for us.”
Allen was asked about the brutal stretch of games coming up, featuring five games in six nights leading to the Christmas break, where his message was staying in the moment. “It’s the hand we’re dealt, and we’re going to chip away at this one day at a time. Rest and recovery is going to be crucial even though we’re very limited in that situation, so we’re going to take it day-by-day.”
Hershey’s top players continued to produce, as well as finding points from their defenders. Joe Snively tallied a point in his fifth straight game, Vecchione added another helper and very nearly had his second goal as a Bear, and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby had another point a day removed from scoring the overtime winner in Wilkes-Barre. Franson had a big weekend in terms of production, with a goal and an assist adding to his tally from Saturday. Hershey’s power play was a mixed bag of extremes, as the goal on their opening attempt was overshadowed by the inability to convert on any other key chances in addition to the shorthanded goal and penalty shot tally.
The two teams will rematch in Laval later this season, but Hershey will get a chance to avenge the loss on Tuesday in Wilkes-Barre. With the majority of their upcoming games within their division, the Bears will look to get back in the win column as the Atlantic Division race heats up before Christmas.
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