HERSHEY, Pa. – Brett Connolly scored two goals to help push the Syracuse Crunch to a 3-2 victory over the Hershey Bears on Friday night at GIANT Center.
The Bears were the first to strike in the opening period, off of a no-quit play by Peter LeBlanc. The centerman was turned aside on two shots by goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, but Casey Wellman chipped the puck out of a scramble for LeBlanc to deposit over Gudlevskis at 11:40 for his seventh goal of the season.
The lead, however, lasted only 17 seconds. Syracuse entered the Bears zone and immediately went in on a forecheck. A Cedric Paquette pass deflected across the front of David Leggio’s crease, right to a waiting Connolly for a slam-dunk tally.
The second period was all Syracuse. Geoff Walker slammed home a goal-line pass from Tanner Richard at 8:15, while the Crunch skated on an upcoming delayed penalty, giving the visitors a 2-1 lead.
Connolly’s second of the game came when he skated in nearly a full circle around the Bears’ zone. He finished his trek at the top of the left circle, taking a shot and beating Leggio low to the glove side at 15:07.
Hershey attempted to repeat their two-goal comeback from nine nights earlier, and got one goal back in the third. Tyson Strachan took a long, low slap shot that trickled through the pads of Gudlevskis at 13:09, bringing the Bears back within one.
The hosts would get Leggio off for a sixth attacker with just over one minute left to play, and generated pressure down low. But the Bears were handed an interference penalty with 18.2 seconds left in the period, effectively stopping the momentum and giving Syracuse the win.
Leggio made 21 saves and fell to 7-10-2 on the season. Gudlevskis improves to 6-3-1 with a 24-save effort.
The Bears play their final game of calendar year 2013 at home tomorrow, December 28 in a 7:00 PM faceoff against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Individual tickets for this and all Hershey Bears home games are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or by visiting TicketMaster.com on the internet. Information on season tickets, group tickets and flex plans for the 2013-2014 Hershey Bears regular season is available by calling (717)508-BEAR.
NOTES: The Bears injury scratches were D Julien Brouillette, RW Stanislav Galiev, D Tomas Kundratek, RW Garrett Mitchell and D Patrick Wey…The healthy scratches were LW Josh Brittain, D Brett Flemming and LW Derek Whitmore…Hershey finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play and 5-for-5 on the penalty kill...C Ryan Potulny made his season debut with the Bears, after signing an AHL contract on Sunday.