HERSHEY, Pa. – Tomas Kundratek returned from a two-month NHL recall and scored twice, Boyd Kane tallied two points and Philipp Grubauer stopped 22 shots to help the HERSHEY BEARS to a 4-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch on Friday night at the Oncenter War Memorial.
After cruising to a 7-0 shot advantage in the first period, the Bears grabbed the 1-0 lead at the 9:18 mark. Casey Wellman fed a pass to the right point for Dmitry Orlov. The blueliner then fed a perfect slap-pass onto the tape of Kane, who deflected the puck from between the hash marks inside the left post and behind Syracuse netminder Cedrick Desjardins.
After Eric Neilson and Patrick Wellar dropped the gloves, and after the Bears killed off the only Syracuse power play of the game, Syracuse pulled even late in the period thanks to Jean-Francois Jacques’ sixth goal of the season. Captain Mike Angelidis, after gloving down a Hershey clearing bid just inside the blue line, hurried a shot on net that Grubauer padded aside. Jacques had position at the net front and was able to chip the rebound home at 17:08.
Syracuse came back with a good start in the second, but the Bears played well defensively and got help from Grubauer. The goaltender was particularly solid when he stopped Tanner Richard on a two-on-one rush with Ondrej Palat.
After the Bears failed on their only power play chance of the night, Kundratek buried his first of the game while the teams each played one man short. Kane and Ryan Potulny battled in the left corner to work the puck loose to Kundratek, who was alone in the high slot. His hard snap shot eluded Desjardins under his blocker at 19:21.
Not long after Grubauer made another breakaway save on Philip-Michael Devos, Peter LeBlanc gave the Bears a big insurance marker at 10:06 of the third, taking the puck from the center of his own zone and deftly stickhandling all the way past the Syracuse defense into the bottom of the left circle. He picked a spot high over Desjardins with a wrist shot for his 10th goal of the season.
Kundratek took over second place among AHL defensemen goal-scoring with his 15th goal of the season when he knocked down a Syracuse clearing bid on the right half wall and hit the empty net at 19:51.
Grubauer improves to 12-6-2 with the win, while Desjardins dropped to 12-16-3 with 23 saves on 26 Hershey shots. Each team went 0-for-1 on the power play.
With the win, the Bears improve to 33-26-3-6 (75 points) and maintain hold of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with eight games remaining in the regular season.
The two teams will face off again tomorrow, April 6 at 7:00 PM at GIANT Center. The first 3,000 fans will receive a Bears logo golf ball courtesy of Fairview Golf Course. Tickets for the two remaining BEARS home games may be purchased at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.