12/21/2011 - HERSHEY, Pa. – Dany Sabourin orchestrated another solid performance, turning aside 38 shots and getting help from a three-point night by Matt Ford to push the HERSHEY BEARS into the holiday break with a 5-2 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Wednesday night at GIANT Center.
Ford started things off by ripping a slap shot past Crunch starter Iiro Tarkki on the BEARS’ first shot of the game at 1:39. Ford collected a pass from Patrick McNeill and beat the netminder to the blocker side.
Syracuse then tied it up when the BEARS got into penalty trouble. Down two players, the BEARS’ penalty kill nearly survived, getting five saves from Sabourin. But the fifth came from a bad-angle chance by Peter Holland and the rebound bounced to the top of the crease. Patrick Maroon swiped the puck into the net at 10:56, tying the score 1-1.
Tied early in the second, Syracuse pressured off of the opening faceoff, but gave up an odd-man rush that was started by a Julien Brouillette outlet pass. Christian Hanson then fed Cody Eakin, who charged down the right wing and lifted a backhander over the shoulder of Tarkki just 21 seconds into the stanza.
The BEARS would need to go back on another lengthy penalty kill as Keith Aucoin was assessed a double-minor for high sticking. In the final minute of the kill, Holland fell down attempting a one-time shot, giving the BEARS a three-on-one shorthanded rush. Ford passed ahead to Ryan Potulny, whose cross-ice pass from the left circle found a driving McNeill for the shorthanded slap-in at 16:29.
Back from a two-month injury absence, Kyle Greentree later tapped a Danny Richmond feed inside the left post at 18:00, giving the BEARS a 4-1 lead and ending Tarkki’s night.
With Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers on in relief, Syracuse cut into the BEARS’ lead at 2:38 when Maxime Macenauer’s one-timer from the slot got underneath the crossbar and behind Sabourin. But the BEARS’ goaltender would make more key saves, and would draw his team a power play after being crashed into by John Mitchell. With time winding down on the power play, Ford’s dump-in found Brouillette, who banked a shot in from behind the net off of Deslauriers at 9:43, sending the BEARS to victory.
Sabourin improves to 8-4-1 on the season, while Tarkki was tagged with the loss, turning aside 20 of 24 shots in 37:56 of ice time. Deslauriers earned no decision, making seven stops on eight shots in 22:00 of work.
The BEARS finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
With the win, the BEARS improve to 17-8-3-2 and are now in sole possession of first place in the East Division. The club is also tied for the most points in the Eastern Conference (39).
The BEARS will enjoy a few days off and then return to action on Tuesday, December 27 at 7:05 PM when they visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The Penguins then come to GIANT Center on Wednesday, December 28 for a 7:00 PM faceoff. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.
HERSHEY BEARS season ticket plans are also on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, with many different flexible plans still available. Season ticket plans start as low as $160.
Game Recap: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1009074
NOTES: Patrick McNeill’s shorthanded goal was the first at home for the BEARS this season… McNeill also becomes the 14th different BEARS player to record a game-winning goal, the most in the AHL… C Keith Aucoin extended a point and assist streak to five games… F Jacob Micflikier and LW Chris Bourque each saw four-game point streaks snapped… RW Matt Ford and C Ryan Potulny each extended point streaks to four games…G Dany Sabourin has won four consecutive starts.