Sunday, March 14, 2010


A night after they bounced back twice from one-goal deficits to secure an overtime victory in Adirondack, the Hershey Bears could not overcome a pair of two-goal deficits in Springfield against the Falcons, falling in a shootout, 5-4.

The Falcons, cellar dwellers in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, also triumphed over the Bears in shootout fashion in the previous meeting between the teams this season on November 21 at Giant Center.

Things started well for the visitors when they jumped out to an early 1-0 first period lead at 2:12 on Alexandre Giroux’s 36th goal of the season. Giroux, the AHL’s leading goal scorer was left totally alone to the left of Springfield backstopper, J.P. Levasseur, and wasted no time rifling a shot past him after receiving a beautiful pass from defenseman, Dylan Yeo, who registered his first point of the season with the helper.

Shortly after Giroux’s marker, the Falcons tied the game at one when Charles Linglet lit the lamp for the 19th time this season, beating Bryan Helmer to a rebound of his own shot and then thumping Bears’ goaltender, Braden Holtby at 4:43.

Former Bears’ defenseman, Dean Arsene, who left the Bears den over the summer and is now firmly entrenched in the Falcons’ nest, gave the home team their first lead of the game at 5:22 of the first frame. After gathering in the puck along the left wing boards in the Bears’ zone, Arsene proceeded to launch an innocent looking wrist shot in the direction of the net. Fortunately for the Bears, Keith Aucoin was on the spot of the Arsene shot, but unfortunately, he redirected the puck behind Holtby.

“My defensive partner shot it around the boards, and I saw it was coming off the boards with a lot of spin. I was thinking that if I tried to handle it, I might lose it, so I just tried to throw it on net, because I knew we had guys in the crease area. I saw it goes off Aucoin’s stick and between Holtby’s legs and I was pretty happy,” said the former “mayor” of Hershey.

Arsene’s goal was his first of the season, and he admitted afterwards that it was a tad bittersweet to get his first against his former mates from Chocolatetown.

“I was shocked initially, and thought, ‘oh my goodness, I scored’. I’m not going to lie and say that scoring a goal against my former team wasn’t special, but any time I get a goal is special,” Arsene said.

Still in the first period, Hershey’s Chris Bourque, whose father, NHL hall-of-famer, Ray Bourque, was in attendance at the game, put the Bears in a bind. Bourque, after being signaled for a hooking call by referee, Chris Brown, took exception to the call and earned an additional unsportsmanlike conduct minor penalty for his complaining.

Bourque’s blunder was then followed by a minor penalty to Steve Pinizzotto, which created a 5-on-3 power play for the Falcons and eventually evolved into a 5-on-3 power play goal off the stick of former Bear, Chad Wiseman. Wiseman’s goal was assisted by another former Bear, Chris Armstrong.

“The first goal is the one that I really wanted back; it was a rebound that I got twisted up on,” said Holtby. “The second goal went off of my own guy, and the third goal was a cross-up by everyone on the ice. I was looking the wrong way, the way I though the guys would be, and the guys thought they had to be somewhere else."

Bears’ head coach, Mark French, had thoughts of removing his rookie netmider in the first intermission, but due to a couple of factors, opted to let him try to finish what he started.

“To be honest, me and Troy (Bears assistant coach, Troy Mann) talked about it, but we wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and I thought he responded quite well,” said French. “We looked at the goals and we also looked at what we wanted to do tomorrow as well” (start Michal Neuvirth in Worcester).

“I don’t think he had much of a chance on the first one, and the second goal went it off of Coiner’s stick; but the third goal, I didn’t think it was a great shot that beat him. He didn’t seem to move when the pass was made to the wide guy (Wiseman), and he said that he couldn’t see the puck. I thought that he would have reacted to pass, he probably would have been over.”

French also said that the fact that the Bears did not get another shot on goal in the first period after the Giroux goal and finishing the period being outshot 16-2 did not factor into his decision to let Holtby remain between the pipes.

“We were only down by two goals at that point and were starting the next period on the power play, and if we got one on that, it would be a different hockey game,” French said.

Early in the second period, a controversial major penalty assessed to Springfield’s Ryan MacMurchy for boarding Yeo at 1:46 gave the Bears a five minute power play. Referee, Chris Brown, did not initially make the call on MacMurchy, but after Yeo remained on the ice after the collision, he doled out the major infraction.

The Bears were able to cash in once on the MacMurchy major penalty when Andrew Gordon finished up a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence that started with Giorux and then progressed to Bouchard, who found Gordon all alone on the doorstep for his 31st goal of the campaign at 3:48.

With the Falcons on another power play in the latter stages of the second period, they received a fortunate bounce when Helmer’s attempt rim the puck around the boards behind his own net caromed off of the net and then onto the stick of Linglet, who found Wiseman cruising down the slot, for his second goal of the evening at 15:06.

With the second stanza winding down, Bears defenseman, Patrick Wellar connected with the stick of Aucoin in the neutral zone, and sent the speedy centerman in alone on Levasseur. Aucoin froze the Springfield stopper by faking a slapshot, and then took a few more strides before blasting a shot by him low to the glove side at 17:43.

“I looked up and saw it was a left-handed goalie, so that look reminded me of that. Then I saw he gave that little opening and I used it to my advantage,” said Aucoin.

Steve Pinizzotto who netted a shorthanded goal in Friday night’s game, potted the only goal of third period, sizzling a short-side shot by Levasseur at 7:30.

“Collins made a nice play there on the wall by chipping it up and sending me and Joudrey on a 2-on-1. I turned a little and tried to make it look like I was going to pass, and then just shot it on net,” said Pinizzotto.

Following a scoreless final twelve and a half minutes of third period play, the game went into overtime with the teams skating at three aside thanks to each club having a player in the penalty box serving a minor penalty.

Springfileld’s Rob Hisey, who scored the eventual shootout winning goal, had the best chance of the overtime, but was narrowly halted by Holtby in his wraparound attempt.

“I tried to play him as aggressively as I could when he was in front because he made a few nice plays to get loose, and was by himself in front. When he went behind the net, I tried to get a stick on his to throw him off. Then he threw it out front and it went off Aucoin’s skate; fortunately I was able to get it before it went in,” said Holtby.

French, whose team continues to pace the AHL with 103 points, was very frank after game when asked if he could be satisfied that his team managed to escape Springfield with one point.

“I think we were relatively embarrassing in the first period, and you have to play 60 minutes to earn a victory. So, I’m disappointed in getting only the one point.”

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