Bears Stave Off Elimination, Top Pens In OT

The Hershey Bears survived in an elimination game Wednesday night, defeating the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins on Ryan Potulny’s game winning goal in overtime. Potulny led the charge on offense for the Bears’ adding an assist on the night to combine with the game winner. Dany Sabourin played solid in net, stopping 26 of 29 shots on goal. D.J. King and Cameron Schilling each added their first goal of the playoffs in the first period.

French was not surprised that Ryan Potulny was a clutch performer in the extra frame. “It seems to follow certain guys around, he’s definitely an offensive player I think the one constant in players that I’ve seen who’ve been able to rise to the occasion in overtime is the competitiveness.”

Potulny talked about scoring the game clinching goal in the extra frame. “There’s never a bad shot in overtime and you have to keep your focus and you can’t get too excited. You’ve got to stick with it and not to change anything in overtime. It’s do or die of us and this team’s not ready to die. We’re not ready to end our season.”

Wilkes-Barre Scranton came out strong early generating three shots on goal in the first three minutes, but Hershey would push back. The fourth line composed of D.J. King, Andrew Carroll and Graham Mink cashed in on a point shot from Zach Miskovic. King potted his 1st goal of the playoffs, following a rebound that he took around the net and eventually fired on goal. This game was Miskovic’s first of the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs and King’s first playoff goal in the Capitals organization. The Bears’ fourth line continued to earn more shifts throughout the period, dishing out some big hits while adding offensive punch.

French spoke about changing up the lines following the Bears’ win. “We really changed up the lines and Graham it looks like he’s going down to the fourth line. D.J. King is a good solid veteran player who plays a very intelligent game.”

King talked about having Graham Mink on the fourth line. “It’s good he’s a shooter and he knows with me and pistol(Andrew Carroll), we’re gonna go to the net. But the thing I liked about Minker tonight is he played our style of game, it was a fore check game. He played along with our line mates in the corners.”

Bears’ forward, Jacob Micflikier was sent to the penalty box for interference midway through the first period, giving the Penguins’ their first chance with the man advantage. Wilkes-Barre Scranton used good puck movement to generate their scoring chances. Penguins’ forward, Colin McDonald received a pass in front of Sabourin following a cycle behind the net, but Sabourin robbed McDonald’s wrist shot.

The Bears’ continued to generate offense in the Penguins’ defensive zone, cashing in again. Bears’ defense man, Cameron Schilling fired a slap shot past Wilkes-Barre Scranton goalie, Brad Thiessen who had to deal with traffic in front of the net. The goal developed from a Ryan Potulny pass on the side boards. The Bears’ finished the first period up 2-0, but Tomas Kundratek was called for high-sticking with one minute left, giving Wilkes-Barre Scranton a carryover power play going into the second frame.

The Penguins’ quickly answered early on the second period during the power play, narrowing the Hershey lead to 2-1. Cal O’Reilly netted his 2nd goal of the playoffs, with assists credited to Geoff Walker and a Jason Williams. Wilkes-Barre would control the rest of the period and grabbed momentum heading into the third period.

Wilkes-Barre had three more power plays during the second stanza, but could not cash in on any of them. The Penguins’ registered most of the scoring chances in the period, out shooting Hershey 10-4.

The Penguins tied it up early in the third on Eric Tangradi’s first goal of the playoffs. Tangradi was left right in front of the net and Paul Thompson dished an excellent pass to Tangradi to even the score at two.

After struggling to gain much offensive momentum in the third period, Hershey regained the lead following Kyle Greentree’s first goal of the playoffs. Greentree received a great pass in front of Thiessen from Jacob Micflikier, giving Micflikier his first point in the playoffs.

After a Hershey penalty kill following an Andrew Carroll, tripping penalty Wilkes-Barre Scranton went right back on the power play. This time they cashed in. Alex Grant fired home a slap shot from the point tying the game at three. Wilkes-Barre controlled the tempo of the third period, out shooting Hershey by an 11-7 margin.

In overtime the Bears’ would finish off the Penguins on the power play. Following a timeout from Bears’ coach Mark French, Tomas Kundratek fired a slap shot and Ryan Potulny sealed the game netting the game winner keeping the Bears’ alive in round one.

French talked about the timeout following the game. “We talked about the change, because you change ends in overtime that’s a long change for us and you need to make smart decisions late in shifts.”

French said he doesn’t feel momentum transfers to the next game. “I think momentum’s game to game. I don’t think we carry any momentum into the next game. We just got to be ready to play, hopefully we can get a little bit of confidence off of a win tonight. We’ve got to be able to show up and play with the same sense of urgency we did in spots tonight.

Hershey takes on Wilkes-Barre Scranton Friday night, in the fourth game of the five game set at Giant Center.

Three Stars:

  1. Ryan Potulny
  2. Kyle Greentree
  3. Alex Grant

Below are game highlights courtesy of the Hershey Bears.

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