HERSHEY, Pa. – Zach Hamill tied the game with a power-play goal, while Philipp Grubauer turned aside 32 shots in regulation and overtime and four of five in the shootout for his first AHL victory, a 4-3 decision over the Connecticut Whale on Saturday night at GIANT Center.
After being stymied by Grubauer for most of the opening period, the Whale finally managed to get one by. Charging down the left wing, forward Kyle Jean carried the puck on his forehand, dipped his shoulder and slipped a backhand shot into the net at 17:07.
But only 28 seconds later, Garrett Mitchell tied the game on a similar rush. Mitchell skated down the right wing, got around a Connecticut defenseman and sent a shot along the ice that split the pads of goaltender Jason Missiaen from a sharp angle for Mitchell’s eighth goal of the season.
Jon Kalinski would net his first with the BEARS just 17 seconds into the second period, giving the BEARS their first lead of the game. Taking a pass from Barry Almeida deep in the left corner, Kalinski one-timed a shot inside the right goal post and past Missiaen.
Trailing 2-1, the Whale turned the tide and took a 3-2 lead on two strikes separated by just under two minutes. At the 11:56 mark, forward Tommy Grant fanned on a shot from the left circle, but hurried the mistake into a pass to the left point for Logan Pyett. The defenseman took a low slap shot that was tipped by Kelsey Tessier over the shoulder of Grubauer to tie the game.
After earning over one minute of two-man advantage time in the third period, the BEARS would begin their third power play of the frame with a chance to pull back in front. Instead, Chad Kolarik took a headman pass from Mike Vernace and sent a low shot off of the pads of Grubauer. He followed up the rebound and stuffed the puck home at 13:50 for a shorthanded go-ahead goal.
The BEARS did not give up, and broke a drought of nearly six games without a power-play goal when Hamill one-timed a feed from Tomas Kundratek past Missiaen from the left circle at 14:44.
The BEARS would own the possession time in the extra five minutes, but neither team would be able to score.
Kolarik beat Grubauer with a high shot over the glove in the second round of the shootout, and Garrett Stafford answered with a pretty deke past Missiaen. Grubauer would stop his next two opponents, allowing Stanislav Galiev to put the BEARS ahead with a fake through Missiaen’s pads. Jean lost control of the puck on his fifth-round attempt, and with the Whale shooting first, the BEARS ended up earning the win.
Gruabuer improves to 1-1-0 with the win, while Missiaen drops to 3-3-1 with 19 saves on 22 shots. The BEARS ended the night 1-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The BEARS remain home tomorrow, January 13 to host a rematch against the Connecticut Whale at 5:00 PM. The first 4,000 fans will receive a Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic snow globe. Tickets for this game and all home games are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.