Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bears 1st in East with OT Win

Heading into overtime last night against the Albany Devils, the Bears achieved the one point minimum they needed to take over first place in the East Division. With Stan Galiev's game winning goal on the power play (his second of the game), the Bears got the full 2 points from the win and are now one point ahead of Wilkes-Barre for the division lead.

In hindsight, this one seemed primed to be a barn burner. What with Casey Wellman scoring 10 seconds into the game and Tomas Kundratek making it 2-0 a couple minutes later. The rest of the way would see Albany always climbing back to tie the game every time Hershey would take the lead.

Special teams were on display though it was rough time for the penalty killers of both teams. Overall, the Bears ended up 3 for 7 on the power and play and the Devils 3 for 5. Hershey has now dropped to 5th overall in the league with an 86.9 penalty kill percentage. Despite this slip they're still first overall in the Eastern Conference.

A few games/posts ago I mentioned the need for the Bears to better learn "timeliness" and "strategy". Last night's third period was another one of those situations. With Albany's Dan Kelly's elbowing (though I'd considered it boarding) of Garrett Mitchell head first in the boards along the benches, the Bears found themselves with a 5 minute power play with about 9 minutes left in the game.

Going into the third period tied 4-4, this was the key moment of the game and the Bears needed to come through and score at least once on this power play. Unfortunately, even though they had plenty of great chances, Hershey wasn't able to succeed in scoring on the power play.

With anything happening in overtime, especially on the three-on-three, the Bears have to recognize the timeliness of opportunities. And they would come through on the second opportunity. Just as the OT was going to 3-on-3, Albany took a slashing call and Hershey got a 4-on-3 power play.

Unlike the 5-on-3 in the third, on this power play Stan Galiev was not to be denied. Right before the game winner, Galiev had two or three shot attempts from the point area; first from the right side of the ice and then cycling to the left face-off dot.

The Bears play LeHigh Valley tonight at Giant Center. Hershey is two points up on the Phantoms but overall LeHigh Valley has one game in hand.

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