Road Rules When Bears, Crunch Meet

The Hershey Bears looked to close out the 2010-11 regular season in fashion in a duel against the Syracuse Crunch. In hopes of ending the regular season on a high note, the Bears fell to Syracuse, 4-1 at Giant Center. Two of the four Crunch goals would come on the man-advantage.

It was easily said in the locker room after the Bears’ 4-2 loss to the Penguins the night before, they only gave a 20 minute effort. It’s well-known throughout the fan base and even the locker room, a 20 minute effort won’t be nearly enough to get by the Charlotte Checkers in round one.

Being the final game before the first playoff match up on Thursday, the Bears has nine of their regulars scratched from the lineup. Among those not in action for Hershey were top two leading goal scorers, Keith Aucoin and Brian Willsie.

It would be a low energized game from the start as Hershey only had three shots on net, two coming on the power play 12 minutes in. The Crunch would fire two great A scoring opportunities on net by passing the puck quickly cross ice. Great saves by Nolan Schaefer kept the low physical game scoreless.

Similar to the night before, the opposition would score a late period tally as the games’ first goal. Peter Holland scored his second of the year on the rebound off his own initial shot. The Bears would be in a similar situation after the opening frame as the night before, looking for a completely different outcome.

The Bears would come out of the locker room and out shoot Syracuse 6-1 within the opening five minutes. After relentlessly cycling the puck along the outside boards in the first 20 minutes, the Bears started crashing the net looking for dirty rebounds leading to ugly goals.

5:08 into the stanza, an ugly goal would exactly be what Andrew Gordon produced. After pulling the Syracuse netminder out of position with a wrap around move, he stuffed a shot over Pielmeier’s sprawled out body and into the net.

John Kurtz one minute later, however, for the Crunch would use his fast legs to sneak by the Hershey defense and surprise goaltender Nolan Schaefer with a low shot through his five-hole. The tally would quickly give the lead back to Syracuse on their second shot of the period.

Despite the Bears’ ability to turn the tide and get more rebounds and second chances on net, a late power play goal for Nate Guenin would add to Syracuse’s lead right before intermission. Off a defensive miscue, Guenin picked up the puck in the corner with room to walk out in front of the net. He fired a sharp angle wrister that gazed the bottom of the cross bar and the back of the net.

Shots were 11-10 Hershey in the middle 20 minutes, but were down 3-1 at intermission to a team who will be packing for home following the game.

The Bears would continue their steady pace of getting scoring chances on net, but no success was to be found. Timo Pielmeier would stone wall Hershey’s six shots in the third, while Peter Holland would ice the win for Syracuse adding a power play goal with only 67 seconds remaining.

“We certainly would have wanted to win the game, I thought certain guys could have played better and show themselves better tonight and make a good last impression”, commented Head Coach Mark French after the game. Three of Hershey’s six every day defensemen were scratched from the line up as well as their top two scorers.

Throughout the six game season series between the Hershey Bears and the Syracuse Crunch, the team with home ice never won a single game. Syracuse won all three games in Hershey this season, with the Bears as well winning every game in Syracuse.

The Bears begin post season play on Thursday, April 14. The Charlotte Checkers and the Hershey Bears meet for the first time in post season play. Game time is at 7 p.m. in Chocolate Town.

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