SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Garrett Mitchell broke a 1-1 tie late in the second period, and Braden Holtby turned aside 25 shots to help the HERSHEY BEARS to a 2-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night at the OnCenter War Memorial.
The Crunch came out on top at 13:10 on a strong play in the left corner by former BEARS winger Andrew Gordon. The puck was muscled up the wall to Luca Caputi, who in turn tipped a pass to the top of the left circle. Rookie Rick Schofield stepped into a one-timer and snuck the shot past Braden Holtby’s blocker for a 1-0 lead.
The BEARS ended up getting their second power play of the night shortly after, and cashed in when Cody Eakin used his speed down the left wing to beat a Crunch defenseman and fire a slap shot through the legs of Antero Niittymaki at 16:52. The goal snapped an 0-for-12 power play slump for the BEARS.
One of the fastest periods of the season then followed, with very few whistles in the middle stanza. The BEARS ended up with a four-on-one rush from their offensive blue line, which was led by Tomas Kundratek. The defenseman took a wrist shot that bounced through traffic and was picked up by Mitchell for the tap-in goal with 2:41 left in the period.
Holtby then stopped all 13 shots he faced in the final period to pick up the victory. He improved to 17-11-1 on the season, while Niittymaki dropped to 2-4-0 in six AHL appearances.
The BEARS finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-1 on the penalty kill.
With the win, HERSHEY moved to within two points of idle Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the East Division lead.
The BEARS return home to host the Worcester Sharks tomorrow, February 11 with faceoff at 7:00 PM. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.