On Saturday night, for the first and only time during the 2011-12 regular season, the Portland Pirates visited Hershey to square off against the Bears. The night before, Hershey traveled to central New York to battle the Syracuse Crunch. The Chocolate and White escaped with arguably their most convincing win of the campaign, outshooting the Crunch 42-25 in a 4-1 victory.
It was a much shorter bus ride to Hershey for Portland than it was for the Bears. The night before the Pirates battled the Penguins in Wilkes-Barre and were defeated 4-1, snapping a seven-game point-streak. Saturday the Bears power-play went 3-for-5 in a 7-1 blow out win.
Exactly two minutes in, Ryan Duncan opened the scoring for the Pirates on a quick snap shot that beat Dany Sabourin low to the glove side. The tally gave them an early 1-0 advantage, but similar to the night before the lead soon evaporate and the tables would turn.
At the 16:28 mark of the period, shorthanded, Dean Arsene attempted to clear the puck out of his defensive end when a 5-on-3 power-play for Hershey turned into a 5-on-4. Chris Bourque shouldered the puck keeping it in the offensive zone, when seconds later Graham Mink ripped a shot past a screened Justin Pogge.
In the loud and proud franchise of the Hershey Bears Hockey Club, the Bears have a long time tradition held on the first Saturday home game in December. The tradition is entitled “Teddy Bear Toss Night”. Once a year when Hershey scores their first goal, teddy bears rain on to the ice being thrown by fans sitting in all levels of the arena and the media.
While other teams try to mimic the tradition originated in Hershey, very few are as successful. All the teddy bears thrown on to the Giant Center ice are soon to be donated to Hershey Medical Center. Following Mink’s ninth goal of the season, 10,190 stuffed animals were donated as they landed on the ice.
The tally put an early end to the first period due to the lengthy clean up process, sending both teams to the locker room tied at 1-1. The second stanza was extended by 3:32.
Into the middle frame, as anticipated both teams were out to a sluggish start following a lengthy intermission. The Bears, however, quickly woke up as Portland remained quiet throughout the period. 6:28 into the second frame, Ryan Potulny scored on a beautiful backdoor play. Jacob Micflikier came into the zone through the middle of the ice where he slid the puck to the far wing for Matt Ford. Ford slid it to an open Potulny who was wide open after a blown coverage by Chris Summers.
Before the period ended the Bears added on three more goals, two courtesy of the man-advantage. Matt Pope, Julien Brouillette and Graham Mink all tallied before the period expired, carrying a commanding 5-1 lead into the third and final period. The Hershey Bears outshot the Pirates in the period 14-10 for a two period shot advantage of 27-19.
Into the final period, Matt Ford joined the scoring parade adding his fifth goal of the season. Throughout the entire triumph, Justin Pogge remained in goal for Portland. Ford’s goal, coming at the 1:05 mark of the third period was soon followed by Ryan Potulny’s second of the night over two minutes later. Potulny split the defense and put a move on Justin Pogge to cap off a seven spot against the Pirates, leading to a 7-1 victory at Giant Center.
After letting up the game’s first goal on the game’s first shot, Dany Sabourin stopped the next 20 he faced securing his fifth win of the campaign.
The Hershey Bears close out the weekend with a game Sunday, December 4 in Bridgeport. They look to go 3-0 on the weekend, facing the Sound-Tigers.
Puck drops at 3 p.m. in Connecticut.