LEWISTON, Maine – Forward Caleb Herbert tallied his first pro goal and assist in his AHL debut, and David Leggio turned aside 27 shots to help the Hershey Bears move into eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-2 win over the Portland Pirates on Wednesday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee.
The Pirates drew first blood in the game, on a turnover in the Bears zone. Tobias Rieder was open in the center of the offensive zone, and as the puck came to him via a steal by Jordan Martinook, Rieder turned and fired a slap shot past the glove of David Leggio at 5:05.
Just 27 seconds later, the Bears tied the game when Herbert dropped a pass for Jeff Taffe inside the right circle. Taffe took a slap shot that beat Pirates goaltender Louis Domingue for his 19th of the season.
With 4:57 left in the period, the Pirates reclaimed their lead on a steal just inside the Bears blue line. Andy Miele dropped the puck from his stomach and broke in with Martinook. Miele deked Leggio and deposited a backhand shot at 15:02 for the 2-1 advantage.
The Bears came out flying in the second period, and just 21 seconds into the frame, knotted the score. After cycling the puck in the right corner, Dustin Gazley chipped a short pass to Herbert who managed to get position on a Portland defenseman. Herbert shoveled a backhand shot through the legs of Domingue for his first pro goal and second point of the game.
Hershey then cashed in for their first lead of the game when Matt Watkins and Kris Newbury combined on a fast rush. Watkins, carrying the puck wide down the right boards, spotted Newbury heading hard to the net with a perfect pass. Newbury chipped the puck past Domingue at 8:43 for his first goal with the Bears.
With no further scoring in the game – and with the Bears withstanding a 12-6 shot disadvantage in the third period and a late penalty kill – Hershey skated to their third consecutive victory.
Leggio won his third straight start and improved to 21-17-3 on the season. Domingue made 22 saves but fell to 9-13-0.
With the win, the Bears moved into the eighth and final playoff spot with a record of 35-25-4-4.
The Bears will continue their season-long five-game road trip on Saturday, April 5 with a visit to face the Worcester Sharks. Faceoff from the DCU Center is set for 7:00 PM.
The team returns home for Fan Appreciation Night on Sunday, April 13, a 5:00 PM matchup with the Binghamton Senators. All fans will earn a complimentary one-day pass to HERSHEYPARK valid through July 31, 2014, and all fans will have a chance to win great prizes as well. Tickets for this 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: The Bears injury scratches were D Nate Schmidt and RW Brandon Segal…The healthy scratches were D Brett Flemming, RW Stanislav Galiev, RW Joel Rechlicz and LW Nathan Walker…C Peter LeBlanc did not play due to illness…Hershey finished the night 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill…RW Chris Brown, acquired in the March 4 deal that sent LW John Mitchell to Portland, was returned from Washington and arrived in the afternoon in time to play against his former team…D Patrick Wellar appeared in the 300th game of his AHL career.