BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HERSHEY, PA – After stealing one in Springfield the night before, the Hartford Wolf Pack couldn’t duplicate the same success in Hershey dropping a 4-2 decision to the Bears on Saturday night before 10,561 at the Giant Center.
The Bears took a lead at 7:57 of the first period when Travis Boyd intercepted Pack starting goaltender, Brandon Halverson’s, clearing attempt from behind the net. Boyd came along the right wing boards and deposited the puck into the open net for his eleventh goal of the season and gave the Bears a 1-0 lead. It was the 33rd time out of 49 games played that the Pack’s opposition has scored the game’s first goal.
The Bears added to their lead on a gorgeous play at 18:11.
While on a power play, ex-Pack Chris Bourque came in off the point, quickly cut and reversed. Steven Fogarty tried to check him and lost his balance. The move created an opening for Christian Djoos who received a tape-to-tape feed from Bourque. Djoos came to the middle of the slot and launched a backhander for his seventh of the season off the post and in.
At 1:19 of the second period, Halverson rose to the occasion to deny a Riley Barber attempt on the short side of his net. Barber made his return to the Hershey lineup after being out for an extended time due to injury.
The Pack cut the lead in half as Nicklas Jensen scored one of the best AHL goals of the year at 8:28.
Jensen, a left-handed shot, came off the right wing and took a Justin Fontaine pass. Jensen used defenseman Darren Dietz as a screen and snapped a hard wrist shot to the glove side of Bears’ goalie Parker Milner, a one-time Avon Old Farms product. The goal was Jensen’s 21st goal of the season.
The Bears regained a two goal edge when Brad Malone forced Pack defenseman John Gilmour into a turnover behind the Wolf Pack net. Malone recovered the puck and fed a hard-charging Paul Carey (ex-Salisbury Prep player) on the left wing. Carey zipped his 16th goal to Halverson’s short-side at 17:38.
Malone is the nephew of ex-Hartford Whaler, Greg Malone, and cousin to ex-Pack, Ryan Malone.
On the next shift, Gilmour sought to avenge his mistake with a solid bid that was turned aside by Milner at 18:24.
The Pack cut the deficit back to one.
Alan MacPherson was behind the goal line on the left wing side. MacPherson sent the puck toward the net with defenseman Chris Summers in deep and at the top of the crease. Summers out-positioned three Bears, Boyd, ex-Sound Tiger, Aaron Ness, and Liam O’ Brien and was able to jam home his fourth goal of the season as it trickled over the goal line.
Halverson, was on his toes at 7:46. Chandler Stephenson, the nephew of former Whaler, Bob Stephenson and who had just returned from a recall stint with the parent Washington Capitals, got behind the goal line. Stephenson fired the puck in front and it went off the skate of Ryan Graves, but Halverson quickly made the save.
The Bears clinched things with Barber’s empty net goal. Barber was able to outrace Spiro Goulakos for the puck. Goulakos thought he was going to try a backhanded wraparound, but instead, Barber grabbed the puck and tucked it in the open cage shortside at 18:59 for his fifth goal to seal the Hershey victory.