The Hershey Bears finally put in a full sixty minute effort on Friday night in Syracuse against the Syracuse Crunch, and the result was a 2-1 win, giving winning goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 25-of-26 Syracuse salvos, his 59th career win as a Bear.
Holtby, facing veteran NHL netminder Antero Niittymaki in the ‘Cuse crease, yielded the first goal of the game to Rick Schofield at 13:10 of the opening period to give the Crunch their only lead of the game. Schofield’s strike was assisted by Luca Caputi and former Bear Andrew Gordon, who was facing his former club for the first time in his AHL career.
Later in the frame the Bears scored their first power play goal in four games when Cody Eakin’s cannon from the left wing eluded Niittymaki and found the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Eakin’s goal was assisted by Patrick McNeill and Holtby.
There would only be one more goal in final two frames and that was struck by Hershey rookie forward Garrett Mitchell at 17:19 of the second period. Mitchell’s marker was assisted by defenseman Tomas Kundratek, the Bears’ swift skating defenseman who intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, and then took advantage of a bad Syracuse line change to lead an odd man rush into the Crunch zone that culminated with Mitchell’s goal.
Notes- Gordon, who averaged 23 goals per seasons in four campaigns with the Bears, has now failed to register a goal in 11 games since being assigned to the Crunch from the Anaheim Ducks. Gordon’s last goal in the AHL was scored against the Crunch at Giant Center last April 10, when he notched the Bears’ only goal in a 4-1 setback.
Holtby’s helper was his second of the season, tying him with his goaltending partner Dany Sabourin in that category.
Hershey’s 2-1 win, was their 27th of the season, but first by a score of 2-1.