The Hershey Bears fought through injuries and adversity Saturday night at Giant Center, defeating the Connecticut Whale 4-3 in a shootout. Two straight Whale goals in the third period put the Bears at a 3-2 deficit, but Zach Hamill’s power play goal in the third period pulled Hershey even with Connecticut. Bears’ goalie Philipp Grubauer capped of the Hershey win, stopping four out of the five Whale shooters in the shootout. Stanislav Gailev and Garrett Stafford recorded goals for Hershey in the shootout.
Both clubs entered tonight’s contest with depleted lineups, due to the NHL lockout and injuries. Hershey lost forwards Evan Barlow and Jeff Taffe to injury last night, all who are likely out this weekend. Bears forward Ryan Potulny also sustained injury last night, but battled through it last night and was unable to suit up in tonight’s game. The Connecticut Whale were hurt by the resolution of the NHL lockout, losing forward Chris Kreider to New York Rangers training camp.
The Connecticut Whale took a 1-0 lead 17:07 into the first period, with forward Kyle Jean recording his eighth goal of the year on a breakaway. Andrew Yogan and Logan Pyett registered assists on Jean’s even strength goal.
Hershey came right back to tie the contest at one 17:35 into the first frame, only 28 seconds later, following Connecticut’s opening tally. The Hershey Bears’ Garrett Mitchell drove wide on an offensive rush, and ripped one past Connecticut net minder Jason Issiaen at nearly impossible angle. The recently recalled Barry Almeida and penalty kill specialist Jonathon Kalniski earned assists on Mitchell’s eighth goal of the season.
The Whale dominated the first period, outshooting Hershey 13-6. Philipp Grubauer played sharp in the first period of his second career AHL start, padding aside 12 of the 13 Connecticut shots on goal in the first frame.
Hershey’s third line composed of Barry Almeida, Jonathon Kalinski and Garrett Mitchell continued their dominance in the second period, striking for Hershey’s second goal of the game. The Bears’ Jonathon Kalinski netted his first goal as a Hershey Bear, only 17 seconds into the second stanza, following a pass from Almeida.
“We needed some guys to step up,” French said. “Garrett’s been a constant all year, Jon Kalinski is a guy who’s come in more recently and has been able to play a few games in a row. Not only did they play for the most part against the Newbury line, I they were able to contribute two goals and our first two goals. We needed to get some scoring from somewhere; it was good to get it from them.”
Connecticut once again controlled the pace in the second period, although Hershey led 2-1, outshooting Hershey 13-5. Philipp Grubauer continued his stable play in net, turning away numerous quality scoring chances.
The Whale came charging out in the third period, netting two straight goals. Connecticut forward Kelsey Tessier tallied his fourth goal of the season 11:56 into the third frame, and Chad Kolarik registered his 15th goal on the year shorthanded a few minutes later.
The Bears would battle back however, finally cashing in the power play. Hershey forward Zach Hamill ripped a shot from the left circle past Missian for his 11th goal of the season.
“We still had 1:28 on the power play,” Bears coach Mark French said of precursor to Hamill’s goal. “We wanted to change the structure of what we were doing, just wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page.”
Following a 3-3 tie through regulation, the two sides were forced into overtime.
Philipp Grubauer made a few big saves following Chad Kolarik’s goal in the second round of the shootout, shutting down the remaining Whale shooters. Stanislav Gailev put the Bears in front in the bottom of the fourth round and Grubauer sealed the Bears win.
The Hershey Bears return to Giant Center tomorrow night for a rematch against the Connecticut Whale.
“Dany [Sabourin] will play tomorrow,” French said of the Grubauer-Sabourin tandem in net going forward. “I think they make a very good tandem, it’s probably what we envisioned at the start of the year. It will go on performance base, see who will get hot.”
1. Attendance: 10,409
2. Bears Injuries: Evan Barlow (week-to-week), Dmitry Orlov (week-to-week), Potulny (day-to-day) and Jeff Taffe (day-to-day)
3. Hershey Healthy Scratches: Mathieu Beaudoin, Cameron Schilling (Capitals training camp), Braden Holtby (Capitals training camp), Matt Clackson and Brett Flemming
4. Connecticut Whale Healthy Scratches: Matt Gilroy, Chris Kreider and Marek Hrivik
1. Stanislav Gailev (shootout winning goal)
2. Garrett Mitchell (one goal, one assist, plus two, two shots on goal)
3. Jonathon Kalinski (one goal, one assist, plus two, two shots on goal)