Potulny & Wellman Lead the Comeback, Bears Steal Point from Admirals
Photo courtesy @remarc_s
Admirals 4, Bears 3 (SO)
Whatever was said (or wasn’t said) in between the second and third periods, seemed to work for the Hershey Bears on Sunday night. After sputtering through the first two periods with a lackluster effort against the visiting Norfolk Admirals, the Chocolate & White rallied. In what was deemed by many to be a foregone conclusion as the Admirals headed to third up 3-0, Barry Almeida (6) and Ryan Potulny (6,7) scored to tie the game and send it the extra session. Even though the Bears ultimately fell to the Admirals in the shootout, the fact they were able to rally and find some heart and send the crowd into a deafening frenzy, for what seems to be the first time since the last time the Bears clinched a Calder Cup, way back in the summer of 2010.
A relatively slow first was broken out of its doldrums by a goal from admirals power forward (and longtime Bears tormentor) Patrick Maroon at the 14:14 mark of the first. Defenseman Jordan Hendry, wrapped a puck around the boards where it came to defensive partner Sami Vatanen, who held the puck for a second at the right point, before sending a wrister in towards Bears goaltender Dany Sabourin (7-7-2). Maroon, setting the screen, redirected the puck past Sabourin for his 13th goal of the season, and the first period would end with the Admirals up 1-0.
The second period was more of the same, a relatively slow period, with the Admirals getting the only tallies. At 8:32 of the period, Bears defenseman Cameron Schilling was back checking hard on Admirals’ forward Luca Caputi, who was crossing the Bears’ defensive blue line. Schilling poke-checked the puck away from Caputi, but unfortunately the puck went right to Ads’ leading scorer Patrick Holland, who took two strides into the slot and beat Sabourin low, glove side to double the lead to 2-0 for the visitors. Veteran forward Rod Pelley was credited with an assist, as was Caputi on the play. The Admirals would go by a field goal at the 17:22 mark as Dan Sexton would score his third of the season. Maroon, outworked three Bears behind the net, the puck popped out to Sexton, who then wristed one over Sabourin’s blocker. The Bears would get a few quality scoring chances in the Admirals’ end of the ice, but were unable to beat goaltender Igor Bobkov (9-13-0) in the first 40 minutes, and that would be how the second would end.
Then, the pendulum of momentum would swing in the home team’s favor. The old adage in hockey when you are down is to get one at a time and things will fall into place. For the Chocolate & White, on this night, it did just that. Veteran forward Jon DiSalvatore carried the puck into the Bears offensive zone, dropped it off for Jeff Taffe at the left point, and Taffe sent a pass cross ice to a streaking Barry Almeida. Almeida coasted into the slot and wristed a shot into the top right corner of the net, past Bobkov and to get the good guys on the board at the 1:42 mark. It was a nice shot from Almeida, but he had a little help. As DiSalvatore cut towards the net, he stopped dead, causing Admirals defenseman Hendry to fall into Bobkov, possibly distracting the Russian netminder just enough to let Almeida’s shot sneak through. The Bears would cut the deficit to a single goal at the 10:35 mark as Ryan Potulny, who has struggled offensively all season scored his sixth of the year on a great backdoor feed from Casey Wellman, on what could be declared as one of the prettiest goals of the season for the Chocolate & White. Bears tough guy defenseman Steve Oleksy was able to poke the puck away from Sexton, just inside the offensive blue line to Wellman who skated to the right wing half wall and waited for a good three seconds before sending a cross ice pass to the far post, where Potulny tapped it in. With the all the momentum, the Bears had all the pieces in place for a huge comeback and they were able to get it done. With just under 26 seconds remaining, Wellman picked up the puck in his own end, took it straight down into the right circle and sent a pass back into the slot to Potulny who wristed one high over Bobkov’s blocker to even the score and give the Bears what could be deemed as a ‘stolen point’ from the Admirals.
After a scoreless overtime, Maroon, Caputi, and Josh Brittain were able to convert in the shooutout, while only Peter LeBlanc could muster a goal in the skills competition for the Bears. Sabourin stopped 18 of 21 in regulation and overtime, while only stopping two of five shooters in the shootout, as Bobkov got the win by stopping 31 of 34 and three of four in the extra session.
1. Ryan Potulny (HER) – leads the comeback with 2 goals in the third period
2. Patrick Maroon (NOR) – goal & an assist in regulation, plus a shootout goal
3. Patrick Holland (NOR – scores team-leading 16th of the season
Between The Blue Lines
• With TJ Syner recalled before the game, the Bears were back to 6 scratches, as forwards Jon Kalinski (healthy), Matt Clackson (healthy), Evan Barlow (healthy), & Mattias Sjogren (upper body), as well as defensemen Dmitry Orlov (upper body), and Kevin Marshall (healthy) watched from press row. The Admirals played without forwards Brandon McMillan, Troy Bodie, Brayden Irwin, & Jay Rosehill, as well as defensemen Gabe Guentzel & Nick Schaus.
• A crowd of 9,425 attended the game.
• Forward Danick Paquette, playing in his second game in Hershey, left the game in the second period and didn’t return.
The Bears head north to start their four game road trip for a date with the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday (2/15) @ 7:30 PM.