The Hershey Bears returned home Saturday night for their only home game of the week after a short two-game road swing in Toronto and Cleveland. Hershey split the two games with a with in Toronto, only to be followed by falling to the Lake Erie Monsters the next night.
The Bears faced the Albany Devils, who they have had great success against so far in the regular season. The Devils have been outscored by Hershey 21-10 entering play on Saturday, still awaiting their first win over Hershey, within the last two seasons.
Going into Saturday, the Devils’ main goal would be to give a better effort after getting beat by the Springfield Falcons, 5-2 the night before.
Without question injuries and call-ups can take a huge toll on any given hockey team. Hershey would critically suffer from both concerns loosing over five players on their roster due to injury, and two players due to recall from the Washington Capitals. Bears’ goalie Todd Ford, along with forward Jay Beagle, would be subject to call-up only a few hours prior to puck drop in Hershey.
With Hershey having a shaken up lineup Albany would look to take advantage of it out of the starting gate. Just 5:39 into the game, Brad Mills scored for the Devils on a large scrum in front of the Hershey net. The scrum formed off a costly bobble of the puck by goaltender Jared DeMichel.
However, just over three minutes after the Albany tally, the injured Bears would strike back. Boyd Kane would score for Hershey right on the door step of the Devils’ goaltender following a centering feed from Steve Pinizzotto and tied the game up at 1-1 midway through the first.
Hershey gained an opportunity late in the period as they faced a 5-on-3 power play for 1:55. Late in the power play Francois Bouchard would score for Hershey on a one-time shot past goaltender Mike McKenna to make it a 2-1 game before the stanza would expire. Hershey dominated the period out shooting Albany 19-8 after 20 minutes.
Hershey would start the middle period with an early power play rewarded to them. Pinizzotto capitalized for the Bears to open up the lead, to two goals off a pass from Keith Aucoin. The Back-to-Back AHL Champs carried over their offensive dominance from the first, out shooting the Devils 5-2 in the period at the midway point of regulation.
Pinizzotto’s tally stood as the lone goal in the middle period between the two clubs until a puck flipped on net hit the crossbar, DeMichel’s back, than fell into the back of the net cut the Hershey lead to 3-2 with four seconds left on the clock. A fluke goal nonetheless, but it gave the Devils momentum going into the third period, only down a goal.
At second intermission the Bears lead in the shot department 26-12, after Albany only fired four shots on net in the middle period.
Some would think after the second intermission, momentum would be on the side of the Albany Devils after a late goal. However, midway through the final stanza of regulation, Kane scored his second of the night for Hershey to give the Bears a late 4-2 lead. Brian Fahey took a shot that hit the crossbar, but Kane gathered the rebound past McKenna to double their lead to two goals.
After a relatively even third period, the Devils would cut the lead to 4-3 with only 29 seconds left in regulation. Adam Henrique scored for Albany on a tip in front DeMichel to make it close at the end. But Hershey would hold on for the victory in front of a sellout crowd of 10,803 at the Giant Center.
Boyd Kane would again win first star honors for the Bears, having two goals on his only two shots of the hockey game.
The Bears will look to avenge last week’s 6-4 loss to the Sound Tigers when the two teams face off inside the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard at Bridgeport for a 3 p.m. faceoff.