On Sunday, the Hershey Bears played host to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the first of four meetings throughout the regular season. The “Chocolate and White” looked to bounce back after a 5-4 overtime loss two nights prior against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Pens have now beaten the Bears in eight straight games at Giant Center.
Unlike the Penguins, Giant Center is a place that has been less then kind to the Sound Tigers within the last five seasons. Going into Sunday, Bridgeport won only one of their last nine meetings in Hershey.
However, on Sunday Anders Nilsson stopped 34 of 37 Hershey shots, recording first-star honors in a rare win on Giant Center ice for Bridgeport.
Going into the matchup, defensemen Tomas Kundratek would make his Hershey Bears debut after being acquired from the New York Rangers organization in a trade that sent Francois Bouchard to Connecticut.
Out of the starting gate, all four offensive lines would dominate for Hershey. The Bears jumped out to an 8-0 shot advantage within the first five minutes, and drew their first power-play at the 8:14 mark. 28 seconds into the man-advantage, Chris Bourque would unleash a slapper from the center-point that beat S-Tigers’ netminder Anders Nilsson.
Although at one point the Sound Tigers were being outshot 11-2, they were still only down by one goal moving forward. With 4:51 remaining in the opening stanza, Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter was given a penalty shot. With the Tigers crashing the net on a rush, Bears’ defensemen Danny Richmond would cover a loose puck with his glove in the blue paint causing the penalty shot. Niederreiter on the breakaway back-handed a top-shelf shot past Braden Holtby after several deke moves to knot the game at one apiece.
Shots after 20 minutes were 16-10 in favor of the Bears. Out of the 10 Bridgeport shots, four were quality goal scoring opportunities. Casey Cizikas was stone-walled two different times by Braden Holtby, as Holtby came across to make two glorious saves on one-timers from outside the slot.
Into an even second period, Bridgeport and Hershey would exchange an even number of scoring opportunities on the offensive rush. At the 10:33 mark, Christian Hanson was sent to the box for Hershey on a defensive zone hooking call. Former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin, Tim Wallace fired a shot short-side past Braden Holtby on the man-advantage to give Bridgeport their first lead of the night.
The lead, however, was short live, lasting only 71 seconds. 5-on-5, Christian Hanson sent a back-door pass to a wide open Jacob Micflikier. He roofed it short-side, just underneath the cross-bar to tie the game once more going into intermission. Second period shots were tied nine a-side giving Hershey a two-period shot advantage in shots, 25-19.
At the 9:36 mark of the third period in a tied hockey game, the Bears’ potent power-play unit hit the ice in an opportunity to retake the lead. Trevor Frischmon was given a slashing minor in his defensive end. A man down, the Sound Tigers’ Tomas Marcinko on a shorthanded rush stormed the net and snapped a shot glove-side past Braden Holtby. In a golden opportunity for Hershey to take the lead, Bridgeport turns it around and takes advantage of a defensive zone break down.
3:07 later, on another offensive zone rush David Ullstrom potted his tenth goal of the season. The first even-strength goal of the game for the Sound Tigers gave them a late two-goal cushion. With the Bears firing chances on net under pressure playing against the clock, with 2:05 remaining Dmitri Orlov scored cutting the lead down to one.
However, the Sound Tigers would hang on as David Ullstrom’s tally proved to be the game-winner. It proved to be Bridgeport’s second win at Giant Center within the last five seasons.
The Hershey Bears look to redeem themselves in a game on Friday, November 18. They visit the Syracuse Crunch for the first time this season.
The puck drops in Central, New York at 7:30 p.m.