HARTFORD, Conn. – Ryan Bourque netted the game-tying goal on a two-man power play advantage while Hartford Wolf Pack goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris did the rest, making 29 saves in regulation and overtime and four in the shootout to push the hosts to a 2-1 victory over the Hershey Bears on Friday night at the XL Center.
The first period ended without a penalty and without a goal. The Bears earned the advantage in shots on goal, 10-6.
The middle period almost ended scoreless, except that the Bears were finally able to spoil a superb first half by Grumet-Morris. Dane Byers and Matt Watkins combined on a nice cycle play in the left corner upon expiration of the Bears’ first power play of the game. From behind the net, Watkins centered the puck and it was one-timed home by Peter LeBlanc at 18:56.
The Bears would take three consecutive penalties in the middle of the third, allowing the Wolf Pack an extended period of power play time. While Hartford skated with 1:39 worth of a two-man advantage, Oscar Lindberg’s shot from the right circle was deflected past Leggio at 11:15 by Bourque, knotting the game at one.
The game would progress to the shootout, and Ryan Stoa would send the Bears to a 1-0 lead in the bottom half of the first round with his league-best seventh shootout goal of the season. But Grumet-Morris denied Stanislav Galiev, Ryan Potulny, Byers and Jeff Taffe in succession, while getting goals from Marek Hrivik and T.J. Hensick to send the Pack to victory.
Leggio was named the game’s third star after making 34 saves in regulation and overtime, including several first-rate stops on the penalty kill. His record now stands at 15-14-3 on the season. Grumet-Morris improved to 10-11-5.
The Bears picked up one standings point and moved two spots up into seventh place in the Eastern Conference, vaulting past the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with a record of 29-19-3-4, but the loss extended the team’s skid to four games (0-3-0-1).
Hershey returns home to host the Charlotte Checkers for a pair of games tomorrow, March 1 at 7:00 PM and Sunday, March 2 at a special 4:00 PM start time.
The Hershey Bears Booster Club will be collecting non-perishable food items to benefit the Central PA Food Bank on the GIANT Center concourse during tomorrow’s game, while the first 3,000 fans through the gates on Sunday will receive a Capital BlueCross baseball cap.
Tickets for these and all remaining home games are available by calling (717) 508-BEAR, by stopping into the GIANT Center box office or by visiting TicketMaster.com.
NOTES: Hershey captain Dane Byers, Hartford’s captain from 2009-2011 with 255 games as a Wolf Pack forward, played the 500th game of his AHL career…The Bears injury scratches were D Tomas Kundratek, C Michael Latta, RW Garrett Mitchell, D Cameron Schilling…The healthy scratches were LW John Mitchell and D Patrick Wey…RW Brandon Segal served the second of his two-game suspension…RW Casey Wellman was recalled to Washington while D Julien Brouillette was reassigned to the Bears prior to the game, resulting in Hershey playing 11 forwards and seven defensemen…Hershey finished the night 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill.