12/31/2008 - SIMPLY THE BEST: BEARS WIN LEAGUE BEST 24TH GAME WEDNESDAY
By: John Walton
The best record in the AHL belongs to the HERSHEY BEARS heading into 2009 after a 2-0 HERSHEY win Wednesday afternoon in Springfield over the Falcons.
The BEARS came out flying in the first period, outshooting the Falcons 13-3 to start the game and scoring the game's first goal. Mathieu Perreault picked up his own rebound and scored against Falcons goaltender Jeff Deslauriers at 12:10 to give HERSHEY the lead. Seven power plays were handed out in the first period, four for HERSHEY and three for Springfield. Simeon Varlamov stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first 20 minutes as the BEARS took a 1-0 lead into the dressing room.
Neither team scored in the second period, and HERSHEY only mustered five shots against Deslauriers in the middle frame. Into the third, Steve Pinizzotto scored his second goal of the season at 7:53 to lift the Chocolate and White to a 2-0 lead. It was all Varlamov needed as he earned his second shutout of the season.
Notes: A winter storm blew through Springfield prior to face-off and blanketed the area with several inches of snow. The BEARS will travel after the game to Providence where the team will take on the Bruins Friday night at Dunkin Donuts Center at 7:05 p.m. The start for Varlamov was his first since being assigned by Washington on Monday. Chris Bourque scored his first NHL goal on Tuesday for Washington against the Buffalo Sabres. Bourque was recalled from HERSHEY on Monday. Josh Godfrey, although on the trip, missed the game with an upper body injury. San Antonio will host the only game in the AHL on New Year's Day as Lake Erie comes to town. Varlamov also shutout the Albany River Rats 3-0 at Times Union Center on November 7. HERSHEY finished 2008 with a 47-26-2-5 record.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game
1. Simeon Varlamov (Big saves to earn the road win)
2. Mathieu Perreault (Game-winning goal early on)
3. Steve Pinizzotto (Broke Springfield's back with a goal in the third)