NORFOLK, Va. – Ryan Potulny scored two power-play goals, Christian Hanson broke an early third-period tie and Braden Holtby added to a stellar weekend with 38 saves, helping the HERSHEY BEARS snap a four-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at Norfolk Scope.
Starting out with a much better effort in tonight’s rematch, the BEARS earned the first power play of the night when Admirals captain Mike Angelidis was sent off for high-sticking. Two Admirals players had their sticks broken in blocking shots, and the BEARS finally broke through when Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque worked the puck to Potulny in the right circle. His snap shot deflected in behind Dustin Tokarski off of the crossbar, giving the BEARS a 1-0 lead at 3:56.
Not long after taking the lead, the BEARS earned another power play but the Admirals were able to kill it off. The hosts earned their first man advantage of the night shortly afterward, and after Cory Conacher fed Richard Panik a pass near the right corner, Panik fed the crease where Tyler Johnson banked the puck in behind Holtby at 8:46 to tie the score.
Each team played a physical second period with the score tied, and it wasn’t until the final two minutes that the BEARS were able to forge ahead. On the team’s third power play of the night, the same trio created the goal. Aucoin, close by the blue line, backhanded a pass to Bourque in the high slot. Bourque again fed Potulny for a one-timer from the right faceoff circle that got by the blocker of Tokarski at 18:44.
Off of the center-ice faceoff, a slowly-developing play allowed defenseman Jeff Dimmen to pass a bouncing puck ahead to Johnson. Fellow rookie Conacher skated down the right wing and backhanded a shot past Holtby from the inside hash marks at 18:59, sending the teams to the dressing room tied 2-2.
With Norfolk setting up behind their goal early in the third, a blind pass up the center of the defensive zone was picked off by Matt Ford. Ford’s low slap shot caught the stick of Hanson at the top of the crease, and the puck slid through Tokarski’s pads for a 3-2 lead.
Holtby fought off all 17 shots he faced the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
Holtby improved to 15-11-1 with the win and made 82 saves on 86 shots over the back-to-back games. Tokarski took the loss, making 19 saves on 22 shots, and fell to 18-10-0.
The BEARS were 2-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.
HERSHEY (25-12-4-3) enters the All-Star break one point out of first place in the East Division.
The BEARS will visit the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, February 3 at 7:05 PM in the team’s first game after the All-Star break. The club returns to GIANT Center on Saturday, February 4 for a 7:00 PM matchup against the Connecticut Whale. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.