Former Hershey Bears’ goaltender, Jason Bacashihua, who was in goal for the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday night at Giant Center, always sports a caricature of the ‘Friday the 13th’ movies iconic Jason Voorhees. However, it was the Bears who unleashed an offensive monster of their own against Bacashihua and the Phantoms and slashed their way to an impressive 6-3 victory.
The Bears’ attack began early in the first period when Tomas Kundratek converted a rebound of T.J. Syner’s backhand shot to give the home team a 1-0 lead at 2:50. Syner was signed by the Bears this week after recently finishing up his college career at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and picked the assist during his first shift he was suited up as a Bear.
“I was pretty nervous, and there were a lot of emotions going through me,” said Syner after the game. “I just tried to create some opportunity. I dumped it in and Mitchell got on it real quick and made a great play up front and I got a stick on it. The goalie made a great save, then Kundratek put home the rebound.”
Kundratek’s goal was the only one of the stanza for either team, but the Bears nearly had a second one in the eighth minute when Garrett Mitchell, after taking a peek during his pursuit of the puck while short-handed, found Cody Eakin cruising down the slot. Unfortunately, Eakin’s bid was rejected by Bacashihua.
“I saw Cody coming, and I just tried to get it to him so he could do his thing and score a goal. It didn’t work out that time, but I just try to make the plays," said Mitchell.
Early in the second period, the Phantoms, fueled by a Matt Ford goal and assist, took their first and only lead of the game, but a short-handed goal by Mitchell turned the tide back in the Bears’ favor. Mitchell, on a 2-on-1 with veteran Chris Bourque, made the high-percentage play and put the puck on the net, and he was rewarded for his effort with his 6th goal of the season.
“The puck was spinning like a top, and I couldn’t get it to sit. The ice was getting chewed up pretty good, so I just did my best to try to get it to lay flat. It ended up taking a funny bounce and rolled over Bacashihua’s shoulder.”
Both his goal and his peek-pass to Eakin were plays Mitchell probably wouldn’t have made earlier in the year when he was still trying to find his niche in the team and while he was struggling offensively.
“Hockey’s a funny game, and I know any of the guys in here will tell you when you get a little bit of confidence and you feel that you can make that play, it does go a long way. Even if it’s psychological, it seems a lot more than it really is,” said Mitchell.
The Bears added three more goals in the second period, all assisted by Kundratek, to register the first time they’ve scored more than two goals in a period since January 14th when they struck four times against Binghamton in the third period en route to a 6-4 win.
Hershey scratched Andrew Carroll, Jacob Micflikier, Christian Hanson, and Graham Mink (all injured), in addition to Zach Miskovic and newcomer Daniel Koger (both healthy).
The last time that the Bears scored more than two goals in a period on home ice was on January 7th, against the Phantoms when they scored three times in the third period to break up a 2-2 tie.
Dany Sabourin, who collected the win on Friday night by making 31 saves, recorded his first regulation win at Giant Center since he beat the Phantoms on January 7th when he stopped 28 of 30 shots.
Bacashihua was making his first start against the Bears since leaving the club after the 2009-2010 season.