ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Mike Sislo and Joe Whitney led the Albany Devils offense, scoring two goals each and spoiling Casey Wellman’s three-point game in a 6-4 win over the HERSHEY BEARS on Sunday evening at Boardwalk Hall.
The Devils grabbed the early momentum, keeping the puck in the BEARS end of the ice in the early going. Just before the halfway point, on a two-on-one rush, Darcy Zajac carried down the right wing and fed the slot. Mike Hoeffel grabbed the pass and ripped it over the glove of BEARS goaltender Philipp Grubauer at 9:55.
The Devils added to their lead at 12:54, as Chris McKelvie carried the puck behind the BEARS net, and then slipped a pass in front. Joe Whitney was there and one-timed a hard shot past Grubauer for a 2-0 advantage.
Off of the opening faceoff of the second period, Mike Sislo got past a BEARS defenseman and charged down the right wing. He tucked a backhander past Grubauer just nine seconds into the frame, expanding the hosts’ lead to 3-0.
The BEARS earned a power play shortly afterward, and while the second period still was not a minute old, the visitors got on the board. Jon DiSalvatore fed a perfect pass from the left circle toward the right of goaltender Keith Kinkaid’s crease, where Ryan Potulny was waiting wide open. Potulny tipped it into the net for his 10th goal of the season at the 53-second mark of the period.
The BEARS cut the lead to 3-2 at 6:43, when Peter LeBlanc cleanly won a faceoff in the right circle. The puck came right to Casey Wellman, who wasted no time in ripping a shot over Kinkaid’s blocker.
Defenseman Steve Oleksy took a tough-luck delay of game penalty when he attempted to bat the puck behind the BEARS net with his glove. The puck sailed over the glass behind Grubauer and gave Albany their second power play of the game. Late in the advantage, a cross-ice pass by Phil DeSimone found Whitney in the bottom of the right circle. Whitney one-timed the puck behind Grubauer at 18:41, giving the Devils the two-goal lead once more.
Albany expanded their lead to 5-2 on Sislo’s second of the game 3:39 into the third. On a turnover behind the BEARS net, DeSimone centered for Sislo who one-timed a shot inside the left post.
The BEARS settled down and struck twice in a span of 2:49 to cut their deficit to one goal. Wellman’s second of the game came on a nice pass from behind the net by Boyd Kane. Kane snuck a backhand pass into the slot, where Wellman grabbed it and fired it past Kinkaid at 4:35.
Then while working their fifth power play of the game, the BEARS made it a 5-4 game at 7:24 when Ryan Stoa drove the net and deflected a short forward pass from Wellman behind Kinkaid.
The Devils would put the game out of reach when Grubauer was forced to make three saves in succession, but could not stop Anderson’s backhander at 13:07.
Grubauer suffered just the second regulation loss in his last six starts as is record dipped to 6-4-1 with 24 saves on 30 shots. Kinkaid improved to 17-11-5 with 22 saves on 26 shots.
The BEARS ended the night 2-for-5 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The HERSHEY BEARS will face the arch rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday, March 1 at 7:05 PM in Wilkes-Barre Township. The club’s next home game is set for Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 PM against the Norfolk Admirals. Individual tickets are available at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.
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