ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland – Braden Holtby finished one goal against shy of perfect, making 32 saves and getting power play help in front of him as the HERSHEY BEARS skated to a 2-1 victory over the St. John’s IceCaps on Tuesday night at Mile One Centre.
The BEARS got on the board first while working on a two-man power play advantage. Moments after IceCaps netminder Mark Dekanich made a highlight-reel diving save on Zach Hamill, the BEARS struck when Jeff Taffe’s pass from the left corner slid right across the crease to Jon DiSalvatore for the slam dunk at 10:51.
The IceCaps began earning their chances on the power play and tied the score in the second period. After hard work by Paul Postma and Ray Sawada got the puck free at the right point, Zach Redmond collected a pass and fired a shot from the top of the left circle. Holtby stopped it but the puck snuck across the line after bouncing a bit, and the IceCaps tied the game 1-1 at the 12:32 mark. St. John’s outshot the BEARS 10-2 in the middle period.
A late second-period penalty on IceCaps forward Maxime Macenauer would prove costly to the hosts, as the BEARS would earn 1:48 seconds of carry-over power play time to start the third. HERSHEY wasted no time in cashing in, as Taffe fed a pass to the right point. Tomas Kundratek collected it and ripped a slap shot low past Dekanich’s blocker hand for a 2-1 lead just 40 seconds into the period.
With the teams as evenly-matched as could be, it was no surprise that the game finished with tense moments. Boyd Kane was flagged for roughing with 1:33 left to play, and with Dekanich on the bench for a sixth attacker, the IceCaps had a golden opportunity to tie the game. Holtby was up to the task however, and gave the BEARS the win with his highlight save coming on a glove stop of Redmond’s blast from the right circle with 10.2 seconds left.
Holtby improves to 9-8-0 with the win. Dekanich stopped 20 of 22 shots sent his way, but saw his record dip to 5-4-0.
The BEARS ended the night 2-for-6 on the power play and 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
The BEARS and IceCaps will play a rematch tomorrow, December 12, with faceoff set for 6:00 PM EST from Mile One Centre.
The team returns home to take on the Worcester Sharks on Saturday, December 15 at 7:00 PM. The first 5,000 fans will receive an Outdoor Classic edition Coco bobblehead courtesy of Capital BlueCross. Tickets for this game and all HERSHEY BEARS home games are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.