The Hersey Bears returned to the Giant Center Saturday night after their four game road trip to face their Atlantic Division Rivals, the Providence Bruins. A three-goal explosion in the third period for the Charlotte Checkers downed the Bruins 6-2 Friday.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the Bruins stood at seventh in the Atlantic Division with a record of 11-13-2-1. Hershey was currently holding at fourth in the East Division, trailing the Charlotte Checkers by three points. Their record stood at 16-11-0-1 before Saturday’s contest.
Referee Ryan Fraser dropped the puck at center, and AHL game number 450 was under way. The Bears began play by creating several scoring chances. Most chances for the Bears were by the Brian Willsie offensive line. Solid passing in front of Providence goalkeeper Nolan Schaefer kept him busy early on. The Bruins finally registered their first shot on goal in the game ten minutes in.
Brian Willsie’s line continued to pile to majority of Hershey’s chances on net. However, Scaefer made 11 saves and held the Bears scoreless through the first 20 minutes. As the opening period went on, Providence began to increase their number of offensive rushes. Bears goalie Braden Holtby stopped five shots kept the game scoreless after one period of play.
As the second period got under way, things started to even out. About midway through the middle stanza Hershey fired three shots on the power play and outshot the Bruins, 5-4.
Hershey began to pull away with shots, however, the number of opportunities in the middle stanza were eve, but the game remained scoreless after 40 minutes. Through two periods, the Bears outshot the Bruins, 20-13
The third period started with a lack of flow to the game. Tensions began to raise between the two teams, as both teams faced scoring chances in the offensive zone. Providence forward Kirk MacDonald finally scored the game’s scored the game’s first goal at 7:17 as he fired a wrist shot past Holtby — on a shot Holtby would like to have back — to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead
The Giant Center crowd in Hershey grew quiet, as the Bruins has momentum on their side. With that momentum, Providence managed to capitalize again. Jamie Arniel scored for the Black and Gold just 52 seconds later to double the Bruins’ lead at 2-0.
Hershey would not go quietly, with 7:08 remaining in regulation, Andrew Joudrey tipped a Zach Miskovic shot past Schaefer to cut the Providence lead in half. With 54.9 seconds left in the game, Hershey head coach Mark French called time out on the bench, to re-energize his men on the bench, and talk strategy. However, the Bears could not find pay dirt again, and the Bruins came away victorious.
Providence may be in the Atlantic Division seller, but with their win Saturday, their road record improves to 9-2-1-0.
Hershey returns to the ice Sunday night as they take on the Charlotte Checkers at 7 p.m.