While many believe joyful winning streaks are only to be followed by long, nagging losings streaks, the Hershey Bears hit the ice on Saturday evening trying to rebound back after having their five-game winning streak snapped the night before. Two-goal leads are known as the worst lead in hockey, but three goal-leads is a bit of a cushion teams look to stride for. In the Bears duel against Binghamton on Friday night, they came back from a 3-0 deficit, only to fall 4-3 after giving up a shorthanded goal with just over four minutes remaining in regulation.
Saturday the Bears looked to bounce back, playing host to the Manchester Monarchs in their first meeting of the campaign. With 2:04 left in the third stanza, Marc-Andre Cliche split the Bears’ defense and scored on Dany Sabourin from the slot to break a 4-4 tie and send the Monarchs to a 5-4 win.
Out of the starting gate Keith Aucoin scored for Hershey on an offensive rush that developed off a break out pass from Patrick McNeil. Aucoin snapped a sharp angle shot into the twine extending his point-streak to 15 games only 3:26 in.
Only 10 seconds later, Manchester answered back off a gift of a scoring chance. After the puck was dumped it from the center-ice red line, the puck made an anti-Hershey bounce right to the tape of wide-open Justin Azevedo. He put a nice band-hand move on a surprised Dany Sabourin to knot the game at 1-1.
Shots after one period were 15-12 in favor of the Monarchs with the majority of grade “A” opportunities coming in the Bears’ offensive end. With 1:47 remaining, Monarchs goaltender Martin Jones went behind his net to play a lose puck in the trapezoid. Micflikier stole the puck and fed it to Ryan Potulny in front, but Jones made a sprawling save to rob Potulny of his fourteenth goal of the season.
Into the middle frame the Bears were haunted again bye yet another soft goal. Off an offensive zone face-off for Manchester Linden Vey released a quick shot off Dany Richmond’s skate blade that deflected past a fooled Dany Sabourin to make it a 2-1 game 65 seconds in. Minutes later between the two teams, three goals were scored in a 70 second span. The first two were by Hershey’s Jacob Micflikier and Boyd Kane, only to be followed by Jordan Nolan tying the game to erase the Bears’ short-live lead at 9:13.
The span rounded out the second period scoring with both teams dead-locked at 3-3. Shots after two periods were 28-24 in favor of the Purple and Gold.
The final frame of regulation featured a similar story, as Manchester took the early lead with a goal scored by Cam Paddock only 2:06 into the period. Having to come from behind once more, Micflikier tallied his second goal of the evening to tie the game with 5:37 remaining.
With just over four minutes left in regulation time, Hershey was given a golden opportunity to take the lead late. Ray Kaunisto was sent to the sin-bin after being handed a cross-checking minor, sending the number one power-play unit in the AHL back to work. It was only the Bears’ third man-advantage of the contest and they failed to capitalize.
As soon at the penalty expired and the teams went back to even-strength, it set the stage for Manchester’s Marc-Andre Cliche to slip through the defense and get the final laugh on Dany Sabourin. The late tally proved to be the game-deciding play leading to the Monarch’s 22nd win of the season.
Both teams will go on to face each other once more for the final time this season, in Hershey the next night. The Bears look for their 25th win of the season as they look to revenge Manchester, Sunday, January 22 at 5 p.m.