And then they took their foot off the gas while the Falcons started playing with more urgency. For the final 30 minutes Hershey was routinely stuck in their own zone fighting in the corners and turning the puck over each time they touched it.
Hershey recorded 23 shots in the game, 6 of which came in the third period. You can see how the game went by the shots...9 in the first period, 8 in the second, and only 6 in the third. A slow but steady falloff which almost resulted in a lost point.
Springfield on the other hand struggled mightily early on. They turned it over in their own end, couldn't complete passes in any zone, and looked overmatched by the Bears. But they got better as the game went on. 8 shots in the first, 9 in the second, and 11 in the third as they made a strong push for the win.
They got close.
John Moore scored midway through the 3rd period to make it 3-2 and Springfield was controlling the play.
But Steve Pinizzotto wouldn't let it go. He took a pass from Brian Willsie, stickhandled to the center of the ice, and waited long enough before shooting and scoring what would end up as the game winning goal. It was Pinner's 11th goal of the season.
The goal happened about 30 seconds after the Falcons goal and Springfield never really recovered. Sure, Kyle Wilson added a goal while 6 on 5 after Dany Sabourin whiffed on a shot at the empty net but Hershey managed to keep control of their zone for the finishing minutes.
Andrew Gordon (21), Willsie (18), and Sean Collins (3) also scored for the Bears while Sabourin made 25 saves on 28 shots to pick up the win.
It was an important win for the Bears as they are now tied for 2nd place in the East division as the Norfolk Admirals have dropped 3 straight.
But the games get tougher tonight and tomorrow. Sure, Springfield is a good team but it isn't a rivalry game (there was almost no animosity all night long) and they aren't a playoff team at this point.
Tonight the Binghamton Senators are on the schedule for the Bears while tomorrow brings the Charlotte Checkers to Hershey for an afternoon game before the All-Star festivities.
A 2pm game to finish up a 3 in 3...not an easy weekend. But both teams are chasing the Bears for the 2nd spot in the East. Charlotte sits in 4th, 2 points back while the Senators sit in 5th, only 6 points back. A loss in either game likely means a move in the standings.
No time for rest.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Brian Willsie - picked up a goal and an assist to extend his goal scoring streak to 4 games.
- Kyle Wilson - he looked like the best player on the ice last night. It was good to see him back in Hershey and based on the way he played I would say the Caps and Bears are disappointed that they don't have him now.
- Dany Sabourin - yeah he allowed 3 goals but he made some huge saves as his defense couldn't get the puck out of the zone.
Grading the Performance:
- Offense | B- | It started out great. 2 goals in the first period while controlling play in the neutral zone. And then it all changed. Puck possession was at a premium last night and the Hershey forwards struggled to keep the puck on their sticks a majority of the time throughout the 2nd and 3rd periods. 4 goals on 23 shots is still pretty impressive.
- Defense | B | Solid for portions of the game but struggled mightily in the 2nd and 3rd periods when Springfield got the puck in the zone. They managed to keep play along the perimeter but some questionable passes and positioning allowed too many good opportunities for the Falcons.
- Goaltending | B | The 2nd goal was just a perfect shot and the 3rd was definitely a mistake on Dany's part (which he would likely admit to anyone) but other than that he was very good all night and probably deserves a majority of the credit for the win.
- Power Play | B | Only had 2 chances but on the one PP goal they held the puck in the offensive zone for about 1:30 before scoring. They controlled the play on that power play and it resulted in a goal.
- Penalty Kill | C | Is it just me or does it seem that 1) Andrew Joudrey is taking too many penalties lately and 2) whenever he is in the box the other team scores? He took an offensive zone penalty at 18:38 of the 1st and 10 seconds later it was 2-1.
- Overall | B- | Not the best game but definitely not the worst either. 4 goals will win the majority of games considering the goalies Hershey has. But you have to be able to get the puck out of the zone better than they did during the 2nd and 3rd periods.