The Hershey Bears defeated the St. John’s IceCaps 3-2 Wednesday night behind strong play of goalie, Dany Sabourin. This was the first ever game in which the Bears’ hosted the IceCaps at Giant Center. Hershey continued their recent hot streak, winning their fourth straight game. Sabourin stopped 25 of the 27 IceCaps shots on goal battling through the second period and stealing this game where the Bears were heavily outshot and outplayed. Bears coach, Mark French was not pleased with the team’s effort, but would always take a win to inch close to home ice in the playoffs. “I didn’t like today’s game. We have didn’t have our legs, we had good special teams and goaltending.” French spoke highly about Dany Sabourin’s recent play and what he has done for his previous teams. “Danny’s been excellent. He’s taken teams on his shoulders.”
Hershey hit the scoreboard early in the first period as Mike Carman potted his 6th goal in front of the net after receiving a pass from Garrett Mitchell behind the net. Matt Pope entered the puck into the offensive zone by dumping it in at the red line. Hershey was unsuccessful after their first power play, generating very few chances on IceCaps goalie, Eddie Pasquale.
Later in the period Bear’s forward, Matt Pope was whistled for hooking putting the Bears’ hot penalty kill back on the ice. Not only did they kill off the penalty but Boyd Kane netted his 18th goal of the season on an outstanding pass from Ryan Potulny, springing Kane on a breakaway giving the Bears’ a 2-0 advantage with less than two minutes left in the first stanza. Coach French vocalized how Boyd has been a great leader by example. “Boyd has been our best player.” The first period did not offer many scoring chances for either team as the IceCaps outshot the Bears, 6-5. The first frame did however involve some big hits, including Tomas Kundratek laying out an IceCap near the team’s benches. IceCaps forward, Carl Klinkberg was a victim of a Hershey hit later in the first frame as he limped to the bench near the end of period.
St. John’s dominated the first half of the second period, not allowing a Hershey shot on goal until 9:35 into the period second stanza. St. John’s compiled eight shots on goal during that stretch where the Bears’ couldn’t register a shot on goal. Hershey’s offense got back on track after a power play opportunity following a Jason King tripping penalty. Ryan Potulny one timed the puck at the right circle generated by a great feed from Chris Bourque from the point.
The IceCaps battled back with a goal of their own from Jason King generating from a wraparound, cutting the Bears’ lead to 3-1. Two minutes later the IceCaps had a two on one opportunity, but Dany Sabourin made the initial stop but let up a rebound which forward, Aaron Gagnon hit in with his foot shrinking the Bears’ lead to one goal at 3-2. The play was reviewed for a possible kicking motion by Gagnon, but the goal stood as called. Coach French added he saw it hit Gagnon’s skate, but the correct call was made. “Definitely made contact with the skate. No distinct kicking motion. “The IceCaps continued outshooting Hershey in the second earning the majority of the quality scoring chances, outshooting the Bears’ 14-8 in the period.
Hershey killed off their 4th penalty of the game in the first minute of the third period following a carryover hooking penalty from forward, Matt Pope. The Bears killed off two more penalties continuing their recent hot play while shorthanded. The IceCaps continued to mostly control possession of the puck, but penalties cost them at the end of the final frame when they needed a goal. St. John’s was hit with two penalties in the last five minutes of the third period, leading to Hershey power plays. Goaltender, Eddie Pasquale was pulled giving the IceCaps an extra man, but they could not find net past Sabourin.
1.) Ryan Potulny: one goal, one assist, plus one and three shots
2.) Dany Sabourin: 25 saves in 27 shots on goal
3.) Chris Bourque: one assist and three shots on goal
Hershey faces the Charlotte Checkers twice in a row on Saturday and Sunday. The Bears only trail the fourth seed, Wilkes-Barre Scranton by only three points with the same number of games played.