HERSHEY, Pa. – David Kolomatis scored the game-tying goal, while Ryan Potulny helped draw the Hershey Bears closer and eventually to victory in the shootout, as the home team claimed a 4-3 win over the Albany Devils on Sunday evening at GIANT Center.
A double-minor penalty for high sticking proved costly for the Devils in the opening period, as the Bears would convert and take a 1-0 lead. Devils goaltender Scott Wedgewood made three tricky saves and did well by staying with a bouncing puck. But eventually Jeff Taffe collected it near the left corner of the goal crease, and sent a short pass across to Dustin Gazley, who had a slam dunk for his fourth goal of the season at 11:19.
Trailing 1-0 early in the second, the Devils pressured at the Hershey net and got a lucky bounce to tie the game. Scott Timmins made a backhand pass from the right wall to an open Mike Sislo in the slot. Sislo’s backhander deflected off of a Hershey skate and behind David Leggio at 5:17.
The Devils then grabbed their first lead of the game with 21.8 seconds left in the middle period. Rod Pelley won a faceoff in the right circle and moments later, Tim Sestito picked a spot from inside the circle and beat Leggio through a screen.
The Bears had a chance to tie the game on an early third-period power play, but instead found themselves down by a 3-1 score when Rod Pelley’s low shot slid through a screened Leggio at 2:03.
Albany was in penalty trouble for most of the night, and on the ninth of 11 power play chances for Hershey, Potulny collected a short pass from Casey Wellman, cut down the slot and shoveled a shot past Wedgewood at 11:40 to cut the Devils’ lead to 3-2.
Then on a four-on-four situation, Kolomatis scored a beautiful goal to tie the game when he carried toward the right wing wall, and sent a snap shot high into the upper-right corner of the net at 16:56.
With no scoring in the overtime, the game headed to the shootout. Following misses by Ryan Stoa and Mike Sislo, the Bears would get goals in succession by Wellman, Potulny and Gazley, while Mattias Tedenby was the only player to solve Leggio.
Leggio made 25 saves to improve to 12-12-2 on the season, while Wedgewood turned aside 32 of 35 shots and fell to 7-6-2.
With the win, the Bears move into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, starting the second half of the season with a record of 19-14-3-3.
The Bears will travel to central New York to battle the Syracuse Crunch on Friday, January 24 at 7:00 PM. The game will be televised locally on ABC-27’s RTV channel 27.2, Verizon Fios 461, Comcast 246, Blue Ridge Cable 152 and Kuhn Communications 67. The two teams will then rematch at GIANT Center on Saturday, January 25 at 7:00 PM. Tickets are available by calling (717) 508-BEAR, by stopping into the GIANT Center box office or by visiting TicketMaster.com.
NOTES: The Bears injury scratches were RW Stanislav Galiev, D Chay Genoway, D Tomas Kundratek, RW Garrett Mitchell and LW Nathan Walker…The healthy scratches were LW Josh Brittain, RW Joel Rechlicz, D Patrick Wellar and LW Derek Whitmore… Hershey finished the night 2-for-11 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill…C Jeff Taffe’s assist extends his point streak to five games (2-6-8)…C Michael Latta also extended his point streak to five games with his assist (1-5-6)…C Ryan Potulny’s goal was the 300th point of his AHL career.