02/21/2009 - AUCOIN SENDS THEM HOME HAPPY, BEARS WIN A 5-4 THRILLER
By: John Walton
Potentially needing a victory to stay in first place the BEARS recorded one in dramatic fashion Saturday, rallying from two goals down to defeat the Philadelphia Phantoms 5-4 in overtime at GIANT Center.
Jared Ross got the scoring started for Philadelphia at 15:03 of the first period, and the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead to intermission. The second period started well for the home team, as Alexandre Giroux scored his 39th goal of the season just 15 seconds in, but the Phantoms rallied quickly. David Laliberte scored his 16th of the season at 2:08, which was quickly followed by Jeff Szwez potting his 10th goal of the season at 2:45. Daren Machesney, who drew the start Saturday, was pulled at that point in favor of backup Kris Mayotte. HERSHEY got one back at 13:41 with Patrick Wellar's first goal of the season, but Philadelphia again would answer with Patrick Maroon's 20th marker of the campaign at 17:21. Heading to the third period, the BEARS trailed the Phantoms 4-2.
After losing five of its last six and trailing after two on Saturday, the BEARS came off the mat in the third period, firing 17 third period shots to Philadelphia's two. Bryan Helmer scored just his second goal of the season at 1:04 of the third with a shot from the left circle to pull the Chocolate and White within one. That lamp-lighter was followed by Jay Beagle's third of the year at 6:48, pulling the BEARS into a 4-4 tie with the visitors from down the Turnpike. The rest of regulation would pass without further scoring, and overtime nearly did so. But Keith Aucoin would score his 20th of the year with just one second left in sudden death, and HERSHEY'S comeback was complete. Mayotte won his first AHL game, making 10 saves on 11 shots in relief. Coupled with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton loss to Hamilton, the BEARS now lead the East Division by three points.
Notes: The BEARS and Phantoms have just two games left with one another, a date in Philadelphia on April 10 and a game at GIANT Center on April 11. Both dates are significant, because the Spectrum will host its last ever regular season game when HERSHEY comes to town in April, and the Phantoms will play its last ever regular season game in central PA on the 11th. HERSHEY travels to Binghamton Wednesday and Friday night before hosting Norfolk and Providence next weekend at GIANT Center. Tickets for both home games next weekend are on sale now at the GIANT Center box office, or by calling (717) 534-3911.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game
1. Keith Aucoin (Game winning goal in overtime)
2. Kris Mayotte (First AHL win)
3. Kyle Wilson (Two assists)