For Jacob Micflikier and the rest of his Hershey Bears teammates, it was a game of give and take in their home opener on Saturday night at Giant Center as the Bears gave up a two-goal second period lead, then rebounded to tie the game on a Micflikier power play goal late in regulation, only to lose in overtime to the Norfolk Admirals, 6-5.
Things started out well for the Bears as Graham Mink struck on the power play at 6:42 to give his team a 1-0 goal lead over the Ads and their goaltender Jaroslav Janus who made the start for the visitors after making a relief appearance on Friday night in Norfolk.
Then the defenseman took over the scoring with Norfolk’s Radko Gudas racking up a pair of goals within a six-minute span against Hershey goaltender Braden Holtby before Sean Collins capped off the period for the Bears, blasting a buzzer beating shot by Janus at 19:46.
The Bears regained the lead again on the power play at 6:01 of the second when a determined Keith Aucoin authored a beautiful pass to Chris Bourque, who found the back of the net for his fourth tally of the season. Aucoin’s helper was his 500th in the AHL.
“They were complaining all night about me in the draws, and then their guy was complaining to the refs, and I was standing there for about 20 seconds and I had enough,” said Aucoin. “So I went for a brief skate because I started to cramp up a little bit. I really wanted to win the draw after all of that and Mink helped me out and got it to Wellar, who gave it to me and I passed it as quick as I could to Bourque.”
The Bears doubled their lead midway through the period, but the Admirals then ran off three straight goals to take a 5-4 lead 8:59 in the final frame of regulation. But the “Battlin’ Bears” bounced back to tie the game on a power play goal by Micflikier at 13:15.
“We didn’t get as many good looks tonight as we wanted, especially compared to last night. Coiner made a good play to the net and Mink did what he is so good at, creating some space in front, and I was able to bang in the rebound in the far side,” Micflikier said.
However, Micflikier’s miscue in overtime, which the Admirals converted into the game-winning goal, doomed the Bears and sent the Admirals out of Giant Center with a fiercely-contested triumph.
“I got it by the first guy with control, and then I tried to slow it down a little bit to our d-man, but I misplayed it right into a turnover to their guy and their second guy came in for support and he cashed it in,” explained a somber Micflikier.
Notes- The Bears are 5-2-0-3 in their 10 season opening games at Giant Center, including a 1-1-0-1 record against Norfolk.
The Bears scratched defensemen Dmirty Orlov (illness), Brett Flemming (injury), Ryan Potulny (injury) and Francois Bouchard (healthy), and defenseman Zach Miskovic made his season debut.
Mink was returned to Giant Center for the first time since June 9, 2009. In that encounter, he scored the Bears’ first goal in a 3-2 loss to the Manitoba Moose in the Calder Cup Finals.
The eleven combined goals established a new Giant Center record for goals scored in a Bears’ home opener, erasing the previous high of eight set in Hershey’s 7-1 victory over the Syracuse Crunch in the 2008-2009 season.
The Bears have scored the first goal in each of their four games.
Steve Yzerman, Vice President and General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning which is Norfolk’s parent team, attended the game.