Friday night’s game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Hershey Bears at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia was billed as an “Outdoor Classic”. While it may not have had the artistic beauty of a classic contest, it certainly was full of drama as the Phantoms fought back from a late third period deficit to steal a 4-3 overtime win over the Bears before an announced crowd of 45,653.
In falling to their former bitter rivals, the Bears wasted a fine outing from Braden Holtby who entered the game on a four-game winning streak. Holtby, who finished with 40 saves, was stellar throughout the contest, particularly in the second period when he stopped all 17 shots he faced.
The Bears wasted little time in jumping out to an early lead 1-0 lead when Chris Bourque converted the rebound of Keith Aucoin’s shot into his 19th goal of the season only 28 seconds into the contest. Bourque’s goal was his 125th as a Bear.
Mike Testwuide tied the game up at 12:03 by banking a shot off of the body of Zach Miskovic which gave Holtby no chance of stopping the redirection. Miskovic, who was a healthy scratch in the previous seven games, was appearing in his 13th game of the season.
The second period was scoreless until the final two minutes when Kyle Greentree, a former Phantom who scored 26 goals in his two seasons with the club, gave the Bears a 2-1 lead at 18:37. Greentree gathered in the rebound of a Cody Eakin shot and slithered a rebound shot past prone Phantoms’ netminder Michael Leighton to pick up his third goal of the season.
The Bears carried their one-goal cushion into the third period, and it held up until the 7:03 mark when Luke Pither potted his second goal of the season. Pither, after an icing call to the Bears, outdueled Bears centerman Christian Hanson on the ensuing faceoff. After the faceoff win, the Phantoms, persistent in their pursuit to tie the game, kept the puck in the Bears’ zone with Pither finishing off the sequence himself.
With the game on the line in the third period, Hershey’s usually lethal power play which is ranked first in the league entering the contest, had a chance to shine and did just that when Graham Mink, the league’s leader in power play strikes, finished off a beautiful three way sequence involving fellow forwards Bourque and Aucoin by blasting a shot past Leighton at 12:53.
However, the feisty Phantoms tied the game with 20.8 seconds left in regulation when Ben Holmstrom tallied his 10th goal of the season with Leighton on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.
The Phantoms needed less than a minute of the overtime to send the Bears to their fourth overtime setback of the season when Shane Harper fought off Bourque’s back checking effort and backhanded the biscuit by Holtby at 58 seconds.
With their multi-point efforts, Aucoin and Bourque each increased their totals in that category to 16 and 13 respectively.
The Bears roster featured just two players who were in their lineup in the last regular season AHL game played in Philadelphia on April 10, 2009: Chris Bourque and Patrick McNeill. Current Bears’ captain Boyd Kane also skated in that game, but he was captaining the Phantoms in that encounter.
Phantoms’ head coach Joe Paterson is a former Bear who played for the club in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.
Hershey scratched Matt Pope, Joel Rechlicz, D.J. King and Danny Richmond (veteran).
The Bears’ record this season for fastest goal from the start of the game is 18 seconds, set by Bourque on November 23rd against the Providence Bruins at Giant Center.
Bears’ defenseman Patrick Wellar left the playing surface at 14:44 of the first period favoring his left leg and did not return to the game.