The Hershey Bears (35-30-3-6) entered their final three games of the season with a big challenge ahead. They got things off on the right foot on Friday night, defeating the Adirondack Phantoms (30-37-3-4) as they pulled into eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They picked up their second straight win in a well-played game from goalie Philipp Grubauer, as they defeated the Phantoms by a 2-1 score.
Recent forward acquisition Michael Latta potted his 10th goal of the season with only 3:41 remaining in the third period, as Hershey answered Adirondack’s only goal of the game from Jason Akeson in the first period with two of their own.
Hershey defenseman Cameron Schilling tallied the other Bears’ goal in the second period, assisted by forwards Ryan Potulny and Jon DiSalvatore. Grubauer recorded 20 saves on 21 shots, improving to 14-8-2 on the season.
The Bears also received some help in the playoff race, as the Syracuse Crunch defeated the Norfolk Admirals by a 6-1 score. The Connecticut Whale fell to the Albany Devils as well, as the Whale are tied with Hershey with 79 points, but only have only one game remaining.
Manchester kept even with Hershey as they defeated the Binghamton Senators, as the Monarchs now hold the 7th seed entering play on Saturday. With just two playoff spots left in the Eastern Conference, there are four teams fighting a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
The Bears are in control of their own destiny, and with added talent from Washington, the Chocolate and White could make some noise in the postseason.
They play their final road game against the Binghamton Senators on Saturday night, following their final home game against the Manchester Monarchs Sunday night with huge playoff implications.