In the final home game of the calendar year, the Bears came up with a big second period (back stopped by Philip Grubauer) to win 2-1 over the last place Norfolk Admirals. This was another one of those games where the teams traded periods out shooting and out playing each other.
The Admirals outshot Hershey 9 to 2 in the first period while getting two power play chances in both the first and second periods each, including a 5-on-3 for 1:50. The Bears would outshoot Norfolk 16 to 8 in the second period and score both goals in that frame. They also had a 5-on-3 for a minute early in a the third but wouldn't be able to capitalize.
In addition to doubling up the shots in the second period, Hershey played tough defensively in front of Grubauer, especially during the 5-on-3 penalty kill. In Tim Leone's PennLive blog post about Garrett Mitchell's first goal of 2014, Troy Mann confirmed that the kill provided a big momentum change for the Bears in the game.
At one point during the 5-on-3, Grubauer came up with three consecutive saves to keep the game scoreless. A point shot lead to a rebound which then provided a wide open chance for Brandon Yip to bury the puck. Grubauer stayed relatively upright and square in the middle of the crease to fight off all three shots. And only diving with his right pad to make the save on Yip.
The expiration of the last penalty would send Garrett Mitchell on a breakaway from the penalty to make it 1-0 Bears. The pump fake and back hand shot past John Gibson puts Mitchell's goal in contention for one of the top highlight reel goals of the year.
While Wellman's goal in the last minute of the second appeared to be a bit underrated, the play leading to the goal displayed Hershey's offensive aggression last night. With about 15 seconds remaining, Kris Newbury skated hard into the right corner to beat the Norfolk defender to negate the icing call.
Newbury threw the puck into the slot where Wellman roofed it over Gibson's left shoulder. Gibson as well as the Admiral defenders were definitely stunned by how quickly the play transpired. Both teams could have been content to get the icing or to let the clock run out but Newbury showed good vision in reading the play. In the past 4 or 5 games both Newbury and Wellman have begun to pick it up offensively again.