The Hershey Bears home struggles continued Friday night at Giant Center, as Washington’s AHL affiliate fell to 9-12-1-1 at home this year following their 3-2 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters. The Bears committed far too many penalties in their final game before the AHL Outdoor Classic, and they paid for it in Lake Erie’s two goals with the man advantage. Monsters’ forward Bill Thomas led the way offensively for Lake Erie, totaling one goal and two assists. Hershey captain Boyd Kane and Bears assist leader Jeff Taffe tallied goals for the Bears.
The Hershey Bears obtained a 1-0 lead 12:39 into the first period, striking on the power play. Bears’ forward Boyd Kane tallied his eighth of the year and 200th career point for Hershey, assisted by veteran forward Ryan Potulny and AHL all-star Tomas Kundratek.
“It was a nice goal,” Bears coach Mark French said of Kane’s first period goal. “It got us off to the right foot, he had some time to walk from the goal line and often times we can create a second chance opportunity from that walk. You’ve got penetration already and he created a rebound, and he was able to get his own rebound and stuff it. There’s a reason why he’s good down there, and he’s got no problem with taking the puck to the net.”
Lake Erie quickly answered the Bears opening goal, tying the game at one only 15 seconds later in the first frame. The Monsters’ Bill Thomas tallied his 14th of the year on a two on one feed from forward Mike Sgarbossa.
The Monsters took a 2-1 lead in the second period, converting on the power play. Lake Erie forward Andrew Agozzino registered his 13th goal of the season, assisted by Mike Sgarboosa and Bill Thomas.
The Hershey Bears’ Philipp Grubauer shined in net even though he allowed three goals, recording 20 saves on 23 Lake Erie shots on goal.
“Philipp has been really good for us,” French said of Gruabuer’s performance. “Obviously he was put in a situation where he had to make some saves, I’m sure the third one, I’d have to get a look at whether he wants it back or net. He was pretty strong.”
Lake Erie bettered the Bears in the second period, outshooting Hershey 12-7. The Bears entered the third period with a 16-15 advantage in shots, but definitely not in possession time. Grubauer continued his strong play of late in goal, making numerous key stops during Lake Erie’s power plays.
Lake Erie padded their lead to a 3-1 advantage in the third period, adding another power play goal. Mike Sgarbossa recorded his 14th goal of the season, assisted by Bill Thomas and defenseman Karl Stollery. The Bears committed numerous penalties throughout the third period, highlighted by Jonathon Kalinski’s five minute major for elbowing. Kalinski also earned a game misconduct for the major penalty.
“It’s hard for those guys, because we run through the same six or seven guys [on the penalty kill],” Bears forward Jeff Taffe said. “It takes guys like Potsy [Ryan Potulny], [Jon DiSalvatore] and [Zach] Hamill, kind you got to work your bag off, to kill the penalty, then expect you to contribute offensively too. It’s hard enough to kill of 7-8 minutes in a period. It’s not for lack of effort or anything; it’s kind one of those things where it’s tough. We can’t afford to take those [penalties] in the third period.”
Hershey forward Jeff Taffe pulled the Bears within one with 1:36 remaining in the third stanza, striking on the power play for his ninth goal of the season. Forwards Garrett Mitchell and Jon DiSalvatore recorded assists on the Taffe’s goal.
Mark French pulled Philipp Grubauer from the Hershey net late in the third period, but the Bears struggled to gain offensive possession in the final minute of regulation.
Hershey coach Mark French said that Dany Sabourin will start in goal for the Bears in the Outdoor Classic on Sunday.
“I’m really happy to be back practicing and playing,” said Sabourin. “To play outside I was looking forward to it right at the beginning of the season when I saw we were playing outside. I didn’t know I was going to play, I’m not assuming anything, but I was really happy when I got the call that I was going to play. It’s going to be a good experience.”
Hershey holds the AHL Outdoor Classic Alumni game tomorrow afternoon at Hershey Park Stadium. The Pepsi FanFest begins at 11 AM and the Alumni game starts at 3 PM.
The AHL Outdoor Classic begins at 5 PM Sunday night as the Hershey Bears faceoff against their divisional rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
1. Attendance: 9,308
2. Bears Injuries: Evan Barlow, Dmitry Orlov, Ryan Stoa and Mattias Sjogren
3. Hershey Healthy Scratches: Garrett Stafford (veteran scratch) and Matt Clackson
1. Mike Sgarbossa (one goal, two assists, plus one, two shots on goal)
2. Bill Thomas (one goal, two assists, plus one, four shots on goal)
3. Andrew Agozzino (one goal, on shot on goal)