12/31/2011 - HERSHEY, Pa. – Keith Aucoin scored in the fourth shootout round and Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots in regulation and overtime plus all five shootout chances, to send the HERSHEY BEARS into 2012 on a winning note with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at a sold-out GIANT Center.
Norfolk picked up the opening goal after taking the puck away in the neutral zone, sending Ondrej Palat and Richard Panik into the BEARS zone on a two-on-two rush. Palat completed a give-and-go play by firing the puck from the slot through Holtby at 1:59.
It took the BEARS’ penalty kill to recover and take the lead. Chris Bourque first drove toward the net and tipped a long pass from Aucoin through the legs of Jaroslav Janus at 7:16 to tie the score. Then on the hosts’ second straight penalty kill, Christian Hanson was given room to cut down the left wing and send a wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net for a 2-1 lead at 15:34.
Garrett Mitchell was given the only major penalty after he dropped the gloves and threw two punches at Norfolk defenseman Jean-Philippe Cote, handing the Admirals a five-minute power play early in the third period. Mike Kostka sent a slap shot off the leg of a BEARS defenseman and into the net at 5:31, tying the score 2-2.
There would be no further scoring during the remainder of regulation or overtime.
HERSHEY elected to allow Norfolk to shoot first, and Panik was the first to come out. Holtby stopped him with a pad save, and Janus answered with a stop on Ryan Potulny. Trevor Smith, Jacob Micflikier, Cory Conacher, Bourque, and Michel Ouellet were all denied in succession, setting up Aucoin’s wrist shot through the pads of Janus. Holtby turned aside Tyler Johnson with a glove save in the top of the fifth round to give the BEARS their first win beyond regulation this season.
Holtby improves to 11-7-1 with the win, while Janus made 37 saves in the losing effort. The BEARS finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play and 5-for-6 on the penalty kill.
The win moves the BEARS to 19-8-3-3 on the season and gives the club a two-point lead at the top of the East Division.
The BEARS will take to the elements next Friday night, January 6, for the highly-anticipated Outdoor Classic at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. The Adirondack Phantoms will play host to the BEARS for a 7:00 PM faceoff. The BEARS will take on the Phantoms on Saturday, January 7 at 7:00 PM at GIANT Center. 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=1009122