Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bears Anchor Admirals to Add to Record

The Hershey Bears added another chapter and another record to their storybook season on Sunday evening at Giant Center when they nipped the Norfolk Admirals, 3-2.

The Bears improved on the record they have already broken by registering their 59th overall win of the season, and their 34th home triumph, establishing a new league record for home wins.

Hershey scored the only goal of the first period at exactly eleven minutes when Mathieu Perreault shagged down Jay Beagle’s deflected shot that took a weird bounce of the rear boards and shoved the puck behind Norfolk’s sprawling netminder, Dustin Tokarski.

“I gave it wide to Beagle and he tried to throw the puck on net,” said Perreault. “Good things happen when you shoot the puck on net, and it bounced right to me and I put it in.”

Though the Admirals were outshot in the early stages of the first period, they came on strong in the latter part and if not for a brilliant save by Bears’ goaltender, Braden Holtby, on a breakaway attempt by Mitch Fadden, it would have been a tied game.

“I don’t know if it was a lucky save or not, but I wasn’t really sure if I had it,” said Holtby. “That’s one of tough things about breakaways-if they shoot five-hole, you want to hold your ground as long as you can. I just held it long enough to stop the puck.”

Hershey rookie forward, Cody Eakin, who made his AHL debut in Syracuse last week and netted his first pro goal in the contest, doubled his goal production when he skillfully skewered Patrick Wellar’s point shot past Tokarski at 12:53.

“Gus passed it off to Wellar and I thought I made eye contact with him, but he said he just buried his head and shot it,” said the youngster, Eakin, who was only a year old when the Binghamton Rangers established the previous record for most wins in a season. “I was able to get wide open in front of the net and I got a lucky tip on it.”

Though the Winnipeg native has been concentrating on his junior career, Eakin is fully aware of the rich tradition in Chocolatetown.

“I caught a couple of the games when they were playing the Moose, and I understand the history and recognize the team they have here; it’s an honor to be a part of it,” he said.

The AHL’s leading goal-getter, Alexandre Giroux, scored his 46th goal of the season to give the Bears a 3-0 lead at 4:45 of the third period, helped tremendously by Mathieu Perreault’s outstanding individual effort against seemingly insurmountable odds.

“I got the puck in the neutral zone and I saw it was Parrish playing D man, and I know he’s a forward so I thought I might as well take him one-on-one because he’s not a D man,” said Perreault, who faced a one-on-four situation when he entered the zone. “I beat him and Giroux was calling for the puck. It’s never a bad play to give the puck to Giroux in the slot.”

Perreault, who recently returned from a call up stint with the Washington Capitals where he has spent 21 games this season in the show, credits his newly found confidence for his decision to confront the overwhelming odds he faced that led to Giroux’s goal.

“I think the call ups helped my confidence a lot,” he said. “I would have probably just chipped it in and tried to go get it, but now that I have confidence, I skate it in and try to make some moves and I’m not afraid to commit a turnover.”

The never-say-die Admirals made a game of it when Fadden and former Bear, Ryan Craig, each scored within a 52 second span, cutting the Bears lead to 3-2. However, Holtby faced down the Ads’ last six shots to secure his 24th win of the campaign.

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