The Hershey Bears, who blew a three-goal lead to the Manitoba Moose the night before and eventually fell in a shootout, avenged that setback by marching over the Moose on Sunday afternoon, 5-1.
With the win, the Bears improved to 17-8-0-2 on home ice, and 31-14-1-3 overall, moving within six points of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the top spot in the AHL’s East Division with a date with the baby Pens on the schedule slated for next Sunday.
In a tightly contested opening period, which featured each team registering only 5 shots on net, neither team was able to find the back of the net. With high-scoring forward, Andrew Gordon, out of the lineup, the Bears only managed one shot on net from a forward, with that shot coming from Keith Aucoin at the two minute mark.
In the first minute of the second period, Aucoin drew a hooking penalty against Yann Sauve, putting the Bears, who were blanked in four forays on the power play on Saturday, on their first of the game.
Only 20 seconds into the Sauve sentence, the Bears struck with the extra man when Brian Willsie drifted down from his point position and then wristed a “wicked wrister” by Manitoba netminder, Tyler Weiman, at 1:08, with Aucoin and Patrick McNeill gathering the helpers on the goal.
Shortly after Willsie’s goal, the Moose went on their second power play of the game, but were denied by the Bears and goaltender, Todd Ford, and preserved Hershey’s 1-0 lead. Ford, starting his third consecutive game, made an outstanding glove save on Evan Oberg during the sequence, denying Oberg his sixth goal of the season.
The visitors from Manitoba persisted after their failed power play excursion, eventually getting tying the goal at 5:43 when Bill Sweatt took advantage of a defensive zone turnover by the Bears, converting it into his 13th goal of the season.
Entering the final frame deadlocked at one, the Bears jumped out to an early 4-0 shot lead, and then took the lead for good when Boyd Kane converted from close range at 7:13. Kane’s caper, the Bears’ 100th goal on home ice this season and was registered with each team skating a man short, was the eventual game-winning goal.
Zach Miskovic, Kyle Greentree (PPG), and Ashton Rome tacked on insurance goals for the Bears, giving Ford, who stopped 16 shots, his 15th career AHL win.