On the first day of Spring, the Hershey Bears looked to advance over the Syracuse Crunch in a Sunday night duel in Hershey. Coming off a disappointing OT loss to Portland the night before, Hershey looked to use Spring Fever to top the second worst team in the East Division.
The Crunch scored three unanswered goals in the final frame to top the Bears in front of 10,635 fans at Giant Center. Kyle Palmieri led the Syracuse charge with a game-winner and an empty netter late in the game en route to a 5-2 victory over Hershey.
Coming off an impressive win over the Charlotte Checkers the night before, Syracuse opened the scoring early against Hershey. It wasn’t pretty, but Matt Kennedy was robbed on an initial scoring opportunity in front of the net by Braden Holtby. On the rebound Kennedy banked it off the leg of Dmitri Orlov to give Syracuse an early 1-0 lead
Hershey didn’t sustain an offensive pressure until midway through the first. It would also be the third and fourth liners for Hershey in doing so. The hard work of young prospects Orlov and Maxime Lacroix forced Syracuse back on its heals. That would lead to Kyle Greentree tying the game for Hershey with only 1:26 remaining in the opening period. Greentree picked up a bouncing puck right on the door step of the cage and laid it up for his 27th goal of the season.
Hershey overcame its early struggles and outshot the Crunch, 13-5, in the opening 20 minutes.
The Bears carried that momentum into the middle frame, outshooting Syracuse 6-2 midway through the second.
After a mostly eventless second period, the Bears were given their opportunity to again strike late and take a one-goal lead. With 2:40 remaining in the stanza, Sean Zimmerman was sent to the box for a hold giving Hershey a power play.
However, after an acceptable amount of pressure in the offensive end by the Bears, Syracuse took advantage of a defensive break down. Following a miscue on the blue-line, Nick Bonino found himself all alone in front of the net and roofed a shot past Holtby to give the Crunch a shorthanded goal and a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
At first glance the shot appeared to hit the cross bar and not cross the goal crease. After a few minutes of the three officials talking it over, they decided it did indeed crossed the line and ruled it a good goal. A big issue in the AHL today is the lack of referees having the ability to use video review on close calls. Unlike the NHL, the AHL does not posses a war room where they can review every close goal call throughout the league. It goes to show the amount of pressure some AHL officials are under compared to NHL officials, where they can rely on replay and let the video evidence make the call.
Looking to answer the bell in the final 20 minutes, the Bears after countless number of opportunities would do so. In a scramble in the blue paint, Greentree would jam the rebound into the Syracuse net to tie the game at 2-2, with 8:06 left in regulation.
Before the goal was even completely read over the Public Address system, the Crunch answered back and retook the lead. Palmieri tallied the eventual game winner for Syracuse on a back hand shot past Holtby.
Rather than sitting back with the lead, Mark Holick’s club carried the momentum into the closing moments of the third period. John Mitchell scored for Syracuse on a 2-on-1 with only 1:32 remaining. Palmieri sealed the 5-2 victory for Syracuse with his empty-netter late in the third.