In need of a win prior to Easter Sunday, the Hershey Bears (32-26-3-6) came up large in their 3-2 comeback victory over the once Eastern Conference leading Providence Bruins (41-21-0-5). The Bears picked up their first win when trailing after two periods (1-20-0-2) as Ryan Potulny notched the game winning goal with only 7:29 remaining in the contest.
Hershey Bears net minder Philipp Grubauer (11-6-2) notched the win in goal, recording 37 saves on 39 shots. Hershey forward Nicolas Deschamps notched a goal and an assist for the Chocolate and White, as he has become a key piece of Hershey’s forward corps following his trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this month.
“Awesome,” Deschamps said of Grubauer’s effort. “He was great again; he’s a really solid goalie for us. He’s been solid lately and he made a great save at the end there to keep the game at 3-2 for us.”
The first period was a fast paced and highly physical frame as both team registered quality scoring chances. A fight between AHL penalty minute and major penalties leader Bobby Robins and Hershey defenseman Patrick Wellar sparked the Giant Center crowd, but Providence answered in the final minute of the period.
Providence’s Alexander Fallstrom tallied his first goal of the year in his sixth game with the Bruins this season, following great patience on a cross-crease feed from Bruins forward prospect Alexander Khoklachev.
Joey Crabb played his first game at home as a member of the Hershey Bears following his demotion to the Washington Capitals AHL affiliate, as he fired two shots on goal in the first period to lead the Bears in the opening stanza.
“I thought we were alright in the first,” Hershey coach Mark French said. “A mistake and they [Providence] made us pay a price on the two-on-one.”
The Bruins took two penalties in the final 13 seconds of the first period, giving Hershey 1:47 of power play time in the beginning of the second period for the 12th ranked power play unit (17.4%) entering the game.
Hershey failed on the power play, and had numerous chances, but Bruins goalie prospect Niklas Svedberg made some huge saves. The Bears then had another power play following a Craig Cunningham penalty and allowed two breakaways to Providence, but Grubauer held the Bruins off the score sheet on Hershey’s third man advantage of the game.
Providence capitalized 9:10 into the second stanza, finding twine past Grubauer on their first power play of the game. The Bruins would tally their 57th goal on the man advantage on their already ninth ranked power play that entered the game converting at a 18.4% clip.
Needing a goal, Hershey found one from their Captain Boyd Kane. He registered his 15th goal on the season in the second period on the power play, assisted by forwards Nicolas Deschamps and Peter LeBlanc.
The second period also featured more rough stuff from the Bruins’ Bobby Robins, who tallied six more penalty minutes in the second period, finished with a roughing and boarding call, followed by a brief scrap against defenseman Chay Genoway. The Bears’ offensively skilled blue liner received matching minors for roughing and boarding.
“It’s good to see that stuff,” said French of Genoway’s willingness to stand up for a teammate. “I thought Patrick Wellar stepped up tonight and set a tone. But Chay [Genoway] in that situation not certainly what he’s here to do shows that he was willing to do the right thing for his teammates.”
Both goalies continued their strong play between the pipes, as Providence outshot the Bears 12-11 in the second frame and entered the third period with a 24-20 edge in shots on goal.
Hershey struck for two goals in the third period, as Nicolas Deschamps and Ryan Potulny potted goals for the Chocolate and White. Deschamps beat Svedberg on a rush and Potluny netted his 17th of the season all alone in front of the Providence goaltender.
“By scoring that goal it seemed to take that lid off trying to play careful and just go out and play,” French said of Deschamp’s tying goal. “It seemed to give us some energy.”
“We talked about it on the bench to keep pushing and not sit back,” forward Ryan Potulny said of the effort made toward getting the third goal. “I think we’ve done that early on in the year, tonight we kept the pressure on their toes at the end of the game.”
The Bears improved to 16-12-3-6 in one goal games and finished the month of March with a 7-5-0-1 record.
Providence pulled their goalie in the final minute, but Grubauer held strong for a much needed Bears win.
Hershey heads to Syracuse to face the Crunch next Friday, in the first game of a home and home with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate.
1. Attendance: 10,819
2. Bears Injuries: Jonathon Kalinski
3. Hershey Healthy Scratches: Forwards Mattias Sjogren, T.J. Syner, Ryan Stoa and defenseman Garrett Stafford (veteran scratch)
4. Hershey enforcer Matt Clackson played in his first game since February 23rd, making the starting lineup with forwards Mike Carman and Matt Pope
5. Providence Bruins Scratches: Chris Casto, Alden Hirschfeld, Tommy Cross, Chris Bourque, Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner and Tyler Randell
1. Ryan Potulny (game winning goal, plus one, four shots on goal)
2. Nicolas Deschamps (goal, assist, three shots on goal)
3. Philipp Grubauer (37 saves on 39 shots)