By: John Sparenberg
The Hershey Bears kicked off their historic 75 anniversary season on the road on Saturday night in Syracuse against the Crunch and fell to their hosts, 4-3.
After falling behind by a pair of goals early in the second period, the Bears tied the game at two later in the frame when Garrett Mitchell (SHG) and Barry Almeida rang up goals against ‘Cuse’s keeper of the crease, Riki Helenius.
However, the home club regained a lead they would never relinquish before the culmination of the stanza when Cory Conacher last year’s AHL Rookie of the Year with the Norfolk Admirals beat Bears netminder Braden Holtby at 18:44 with a turn-around wrist shot that emanated from between the faceoff circles. Conacher, who is also the league’s reigning MVP after his sparkling thirty-nine goal rookie campaign, incurred six of those markers at the expense of the Bears.
In the final frame, the Crunch extended their lead to 4-2 when Brett Connolly capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play advantage at 5:02. Just over eight minutes after Connolly’s caper, the Bears’ Jon DiSalvatore responded with his club’s first power play potting of the season. Despite getting another power play only seconds after DiSalvatore dented the twine, the Bears were unable to get the equalizing goal behind Helenius, who collected 23 saves to capture the win.
Hershey scratched defensemen Kevin Marshall, Julien Brouillette, and Patrick Wellar and forwards Zach Hamill, Matt Pope, and Matt Clackson.
The Bears continue their season-opening road swing on Friday night against the Binghamton Senators before opening the home portion of their season on Saturday night against the Rochester Americans at Giant Center and finish up the weekend on Sunday afternoon in the same venue against the