Daren Machesney started the game in net but after giving up a goal on a shot that Hershey needed him to stop he was pulled in favor of Kris Mayotte who came in early in the second period and stopped 10 of 11 shots to earn his first AHL victory.
Philly jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the first period until Alexandre Giroux scored his 39th goal of the season only 15 seconds into the second period. Everyone in the building and myself included thought this was the beginning of a good period for Hershey. But that wasn't the case. Less than 3 minutes later it was 3-1 Philly and Machesney was sitting on the bench.
Even when Hershey climbed to within one later in the second with a Patrick Wellar goal the Phantoms scored again 4 minutes later to go up 4-2 and give the Bears a 2 goal deficit going into the third period.
At the beginning of that period my buddy asked me if I still thought they were going to win. You know what my answer was, absolutely. And it sure was exciting. Within less than 7 minutes gone in the third the score was 4-4 and Hershey was playing as well as they have played in weeks. I thought for sure they would win it in regulation and then I was confident in overtime.
But it almost didn't happen in either. Mayotte almost got the chance to face the Phantoms in the shootout. The same team that has given Hershey 2 of its 4 shootout losses this season. But Keith Aucoin decided that a shootout wasn't necessary. He scored his 20th of the year in spectacular fashion with about 1 second left on the clock.
That is the kind of game that builds confidence in a team. It is the kind of game that makes fans believe that this team can do great things. It was exactly the game that everyone needed.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Karl Alzner - he had 2 assists and overall played an exceptional game
- Jay Beagle - way to get in there and pick up the easy goal on the rebound Jay
- Andreas Nodl - 2 primary assists for the Phantoms
Grading the Performance:
- Offense - B+ - Honestly the first 2 periods were average at best and probably below average. But the third period was fantastic. Hershey came out skating as hard as they have in weeks. And it showed on the scoreboard. They also started crashing the net consistently and the scored some ugly goals. Exactly what they needed.
- Defense - B - I don't remember all the goals exactly as they happened but I honestly felt that the defense played better this game. Tyler Sloan received a lot of criticism the past couple weeks but Saturday night he was very good. He blocked at least 3 shots on ONE penalty kill late in the second period. All in all I thought a very good game and a lot of hustle.
- Goaltending - C - Machesney gets an F and Mayotte gets a B. I still think the team needs Varly back or Neuvirth back to make a run at the Cup but who knows. Cheese seems to have lost ALL his confidence and is getting lit up just about every time. Mayotte looked good but he also had the extra help from a team that actually wanted to win.
- Power Play - B - Good pressure and 1 goal on the night. They are starting to get the puck low and work it from down there more often. And due to that they are getting better looks all around.
- Penalty Kill - B - They were so close to killing off that 4 minute minor until a good play from Philly allowed Maroon to walk right into the center and beat Mayotte. Not a bad performance from the unit no matter what the numbers say.
- Overall - B+ - If they would have played the whole game like they did the third period it would be an A easily. But the first two periods they chose to instead play tentatively and cautiously. Only when they got down 2 goals and they realized they had nothing to lose but to go full bore did they really start to play.