Holtby’s Shutout Fuels Hershey’s First Home Win

The Hershey Bears defeated the Albany Devils 3-0 Saturday night, behind strong play by goalie and Washington Capitals’ 2012 postseason sensation, Braden Holtby. Washington’s goalie of the future padded aside 35 shots on the night for his first win of the season. Zach Hamill and Tomas Kundratek recorded even strength goals and Jeff Taffe added a power play marker to pace the Bears to victory.

“I felt comfortable for most of the game”, Bears goaltender, Braden Holtby said following his shutout effort. “Got a couple lucky bounces in the first which always helps the momentum, we got those today and it was a win we needed.”

Bears forward, Zach Hamill put the Bears on the board first, recording his first goal of the season. Ryan Stoa set Hamill up in front of Albany goalie Keith Kinkaid, giving Hershey a 1-0 advantage. Both teams had their scoring chances in the first period, but Albany held the majority of the puck possession. Braden Holtby made seven saves in the first period for Hershey.

Zach Hamill has played well the past few games and was rewarded with his first goal as a Hershey Bear. He’s played on the line with Ryan Stoa and rookie forward, Stanislav Gailev for most of the year.

“Last couple games I’ve felt I’ve gained some confidence and been shooting the puck more”, Hamill said. “Obviously tonight it went in with the good pass, good play by Stoa.”

“I thought they showed some chemistry”, Bears coach Mark French said of the Stoa-Hamill-Gailev forward line. “That might have been Gailev’s best game that we’ve seen him play, he seemed to have some jump in his step from the word go. Ryan Stoa for me is continually playing better and better. Zach Hamill rebounded for a strong performance tonight.”

The Bears added to their lead in the second period on Jeff Taffe’s third goal of the year. Hershey connected on the power play with Tomas Kundratek setting up Taffe for a one timer near the right circle. The original call was ruled no goal, but overturned by the new video replay system implemented in the AHL. Braden Holtby was strong in net for Hershey in the second frame, stopping 16 shots for a game total of 23 through two periods.

Tomas Kundratek added an empty net goal late in the third period, putting the game out of reach. The shot traveled about 190 feet and Kundratek admitted after the game he wasn’t even trying to score from there.

“I saw three guys coming off the boards”, Kundratek said. “I wanted to soft chip it down to the middle, but it took a good bounce and end up in the net. I didn’t even know there was an empty net; I was just trying to get it down and out of the zone and it end up in the net, so it was a lucky shot.”

The Bears picked up a much needed win tonight and have some momentum as Hershey gets back in the grind of another AHL regular season.

Hershey hosts the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins Sunday night at Giant Center.

Game Notes

1. Mattias Sjogren is day to day following an injury in the Bears loss to Connecticut Friday Night

2. Attendance: 8,189

3. T.J. Syner returned to the lineup following his call up from the Reading Royals

4. Philipp Grubauer recalled to the Hershey Bears following the game

Three Stars

1. Braden Holtby (35 saves, shutout)

2. Tomas Kundratek (1 goal, two assists, plus two)

3. Zach Hamill (one goal, plus two)

You can follow Matthew on twitter @m_speck and email him at mspeck21@yahoo.com with any questions or comments.

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