PORTLAND, Maine – Joey Crabb recorded a hat trick plus an assist, Jeff Taffe picked up a season-high five helpers and the HERSHEY BEARS scored five times on the power play en route to a 6-3 victory over the Portland Pirates on Sunday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The two teams played through a scoreless first period. The Bears failed on their first two power play chances of the game, and the Pirates were stymied on 1:48 worth of a two-man advantage late in the frame. The Bears finally grabbed the game’s first goal 28 seconds into the second period, on a power play that carried over from a scrap between Portland winger Nick Johnson and Bears winger Garrett Mitchell. With Johnson earning an extra two minutes, the Bears cashed in with the extra man when Tomas Kundratek unloaded a slap shot that was blocked right back to him. His second wind-up found the back of the net behind Pirates backstop Chad Johnson for his 16th goal of the season.
Moments after Chris Brown was flagged for slashing, the Bears made it a 2-0 game on the ensuing power play. Bears winger Jon DiSalvatore carried the puck down the right wing and flipped a perfect pass toward the goal crease. A charging Peter LeBlanc tracked it down and tipped it past Johnson at 4:30.
The Pirates got on the board at 17:56 of the second on a turnover in the Bears zone. Maxim Goncharov stole the puck inside the right circle, skated in and threaded a backhand shot past the blocker of a screened Philipp Grubauer, cutting the Bears lead in half.
But the Bears answered right back inside the final minute of the period. Working their sixth power play of the game, Taffe and Ryan Potulny controlled the play along the right wall. Taffe’s centering bid bounced off of a Pirates defenseman and right to a waiting Crabb for a slam-dunk at the left goal post at 19:03.
Troy Bodie, playing in his first game with the Pirates, scored the first of his two goals on the night by backhanding a shot from the bottom of the right circle through traffic and underneath Grubauer at 6:49 of the third, cutting the Hershey lead to 3-2.
Once again, the Bears had an answer and regained their two-goal lead on the team’s only even-strength goal of the afternoon. DiSalvatore and Taffe forced a turnover behind the Portland net. Crabb backed into position at the net front, grabbed a pass from DiSalvatore and slammed the puck home at 7:50.
Crabb completed his hat trick when he deposited another feed from Taffe behind Johnson at 15:13, while the Bears worked a four-on-three advantage.
On the Bears’ tenth chance with the extra man Dmitry Orlov, who earned an assist on Crabb’s hat trick tally, put the game out of reach by bombing a pass from Crabb inside the right post for his third goal of the season.
Bodie’s second of the night came on a deflection of a shot from Brandon Gormley with less than 44 seconds remaining in regulation, the Pirates’ only power play goal of the game on seven tries.
Grubauer made 29 saves to improve to 13-8-2 on the season. Johnson stopped 19 of 25 shots and slipped to 16-15-1.
The Bears finished the night by matching the AHL’s season high for power play goals in a game with five on 10 opportunities. Hershey was also 6-for-7 on the penalty kill.
The win, coupled with losses by the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals and a win by the Manchester Monarchs, keeps the Bears and Monarchs tied for ninth place in the conference standings – two back of the Admirals and Whale – with three games remaining in the regular season. The Bears reduced their magic number to seven for a postseason berth.
The Bears continue a six-game road trip with a visit to Glens Falls, NY and a 7:00 PM faceoff against the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday, April 19. The Bears will play their final home game of the regular season on Sunday, April 21 at 5:00 against the Manchester Monarchs. All fans in attendance will receive a complimentary pass to HERSHEYPARK valid through July 4, 2013. Tickets may be purchased at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.