It may not have been a perfect effort from head coach Mark French’s crew, but it was an effective one as the Hershey Bears outdueled to Norfolk Admirals in Norfolk on Friday night, 7-5, improving their record to a perfect 3-0 on the campaign.
The Bears, who had not allowed more than twelve shots in a period entering the game, permitted 22 in the first period, but still entered the first intermission in good shape considering the lopsided shot totals, deadlocked at two, on the strength of a Chris Bourque power play goal and an even-strength strike from rookie defenseman Brett Fleming (first as a pro).
At the end of the first period, the Admirals took a penalty in the Bears’ zone and put the visitors on a power play to start the second stanza and although they technically failed on the endeavor, they ultimately succeeded on scoring the go-ahead goal, with Cody Eakin authoring the marker with a one-time laser that was launched from the top of the faceoff circle at 2:02.
Then Bourque and Mark Barberio traded goals eighty-five seconds apart before Jacob Micflikier put the exclamation point on a three-goal middle stanza for the Bears by netting a power play goal for his first tally wearing the Chocolate and White.
Eakin added another goal at 2:07 of the final frame, a long-range wrister that eluded Dustin Tokarski and spelled the end of his night in net for Norfolk. Tokarski was replaced by Jaroslav Janus.
Former WBS Penguins’ forward Michel Ouellet gave the Ads a shot of adrenaline shortly after the goaltending change, beating Hershey netminder Dany Sabourin at 2:25. However, Keith Aucoin curtailed any momentum the home team gathered from the Ouellet goal by netting his second goal in as many games at 6:06.
Norfolk added another late goal from Richard Panik at 16:26, but the Bears did not panic, and Sabourin and his mates held on for the win without allowing another tally.
Notes: In their last visit to Norfolk last season, the Bears stormed back from a 4-1 first period deficit with a four-goal second period to capsize the Admirals, 5-4.
Norfolk’s 22-shot first period total was just shy of the Bears average for shots against in a game entering the contest (27).
Patrick McNeill, who made his AHL debut for the Bears at Scope Arena on November 7, 2007, when he collected an assist on a goal by Joe Motzko, collected three assists tonight.
The Bears were 6-1-0-1 in eight outings against Norfolk last season.
Graham Mink, who left the Bears after their 2009 Calder Cup season, assisted on Micflikier’s goal to post his first point as a Bear since a March 28, 2009 game against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Giant Center.
Tonight’s game was Kyle Greentree’s 300th AHL game.
Bourque had three multi-goal games in his last season with the Bears in 2009-10, including a pair against the Admirals.
The Bears and Admirals continue their home-and-home weekend series tomorrow night at Giant Center.