Bears Run Away in the Third, Cage Sound Tigers
Photo courtesy Janelle Rebman / LDN
Bears 5, Sound Tigers 2 After sputtering offensively for the first 17 games of the season, the Bears have seemingly found their groove. They have scored 5 in each of the last two games after a four goal effort last Sunday, while winning all three games, including knocking off an upstart Bridgeport team at Giant Center, 5-2. Zach Hamill (7), Tomas Kundratek (5), Jeff Taffe (5), Patrick McNeill (2), and Jon DiSalvatore (6) lit the lamp for the Bears, as they scored four times in the third to pull away.
After a scoreless first period, Johan Sundstrom brought the puck into the zone and flipped a wrister towards goalie Braden Holtby (7-6-0). Holtby tried to glove the puck but missed it and it hopped back into the slot where Sundstrom drove the puck back towards the net. Sundstrom, and Bears defenseman Cameron Schilling both cruised in and it appear Holtby lost the puck and Sundstrom got a second subtle whack at the puck and it found its way in to spot the Sound Tigers a 1-0 lead. John Persson and Matt Donovan were credited with assists on Sundstrom’s sixth of the year at the 5:50 mark. This would be the only time the Sound Tigers led, as the Bears would get the equalizer very late in the stanza. At the 19:26 mark, Zach Hamill stays hot and scored his team leading 7th of the year to knot the game at 1. After a solid offensive zone presence by Hamill and line mates Jon DiSalvatore and Jeff Taffe, Taffe forced a turnover behind the Sound Tigers net and the puck hopped out to DiSalvatore who fed a nifty backhanded pass to Hamill, who was coming out from behind the net and he one timed the puck into a gaping net. That’s how the second period would end.
In the third, the Giant Center faithful saw shades of the Bears teams that dominated the late 2000s and hung three Calder Cup banners. The Bears scored four times to pull away, but it didn’t look like that would happen at all and they would squander a huge opportunity. At the 3:56 mark of the period, referee Terry Koharski would whistle Sound Tigers forward Casey Cizikas for goaltender interference on Holtby, giving the Bears their fifth power play of the night. The Sound Tigers, obviously frustrated since they had exactly zero power plays to that point, took a second minor at the same point as forward Blair Riley took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for mouthing off to Koharski. However, the Bears power play continued to struggle as they squandered two full minutes of five-on-three. Just as the boo birds were making an appearance, and Riley and Cizikas were rushing out of the box to rejoin the play, Ryan Potulny backhanded a pass to Kundratek at center point, who blasted a shot past goalie Anders Nilsson (4-2-0), low glove side to give the Bears their first lead of the night at 6:01 of the third. Dmitry Orlov was also credited with a helper on the play. The lead was short-lived as the Tigers would tie it right back up a mere 47 seconds later. Sound Tigers defensemen Jordan Hill was a one man machine as he carried the puck from their defensive zone all the way down into the slot where he rifled a wrist shot past Holtby. Former Baby Pen Colin McDonald was awarded the lone assist on Hill’s second of the year. The Bears would strike again about eight minutes later and take the lead for good as Taffe blasted a howitzer over the glove of Nilsson from the top of the left circle. Taffe, who has been racking up a ton of assists lately, scored his 6th of the season. Hamill and DiSalvatore credited with the assists on what proved to be the game winner at 14:22 of the period. The Bears would add an insurance goal a short time later, as fan favorite Patrick McNeill scored on the power play, his second goal in as many games and his third point in three games since his return to the lineup to give the Bears a two goal cushion at the 16:19. Orlov was credited with his second helper of the night and Captain Boyd Kane got one on McNeill’s blast from the top of the left circle. DiSalvatore would cap the scoring with an empty netter on Kane’s second point of the period to cap off the scoring. Holtby turned away 22 of the 24 shots he face to get his third win in a row and Anders Nilsson stopped 27 of the 31 shots he saw in the losing effort.
1. Jeff Taffe (HER) – scores GWG on a bomb, adds an assist
2. Zach Hamill (HER) – gets Bears on the board late in the 2nd, adds an assist
3. Jon DiSalvatore (HER) – three point night (1g, 2a) to stay red hot.
Between The Blue Lines
• Injury scratches for the Bears were forwards Ryan Stoa (upper body), & Jon Kalinski (hand), and defenseman Garrett Stafford (upper body), while forwards Matt Clackson, Mattias Sjogren, and defenseman Julien Brouillette were the healthy scratches. Bridgeport sat forwards Max MacKay (lower body), Kirill Kabanov (wrist), and defenseman Ty Wishart (undisclosed) due to injury, while forwards Jason Clark, Mike Halmo, and defensman Marc Cantin were the healthy scratches.
• 8,594 fans entered Giant Center to watch the contest.
• The Bears outshot their opponent for the second tiome in a row, but for only the third time in 20 games this season.
The Bears return to Giant Center ice this evening @ 7 PM to take on the Norfolk Admirals and its Teddy Bear Toss Night at the GC.
After sputtering offensively for the first 17 games of the season, the Bears have seemingly found their groove. They have scored 5 in each of the last two games after a four goal effort last Sunday, while winning all three games, including knocking off an upstart Bridgeport team at Giant Center, 5-2. Zach Hamill (7), Tomas Kundratek (5), Jeff Taffe (5), Patrick McNeill (2), and Jon DiSalvatore (6) lit the lamp for the Bears, as they scored four times in the third to pull away.