WORCESTER, Mass. – Philipp Grubauer made 33 saves, Caleb Herbert added his second goal in as many games and Casey Wellman buried the game-winner 2:49 into overtime, helping the Hershey Bears overcome a late tying goal by the Worcester Sharks and skate to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night at DCU Center.
A scoreless battle would open up an entertaining game, which started 15 minutes after a ceremony honoring Sharks bench boss Roy Sommer as the new all-time AHL leader in games coached. The Bears faced 13 Worcester shots – with several chances coming on a late power play – but Grubauer stood tall in keeping the hosts off of the score sheet. Sharks goaltender Troy Grosenick made all six saves he faced.
Worcester would grab the lead just 1:34 into the second. Adam Schmidt forced a turnover deep in the Bears’ zone, and poked the puck to the left corner. Rylan Schwartz immediately slipped a pass to Chad Rau, who then tipped the puck between Grubauer’s pads from the top of the crease.
At 8:28 of the period, the Bears would tie the score. A shot from David Kolomatis would sail wide of the right post, but the puck took a lively bounce right to the bottom of the left circle. Herbert hustled to it and slammed it past Grosenick’s left pad before he could get across.
Just under four minutes later and shortly after the Bears’ only power play of the game expired, hard work in the corner by Dane Byers and Kris Newbury would result in the Bears grabbing the lead. Newbury grabbed a puck that was forced loose by Byers and hurried a pass to the left point. A wide-open Chay Genoway skated in, picked his spot and buried a slapper at 12:22 for his fourth goal of the season.
The 2-1 lead would hold through the third period, one in which the Bears faced the Sharks’ best scoring chances – some on two power plays. With time winding down, the Sharks pulled Grosenick for a sixth attacker and went on the offensive. Bracken Kearns got himself open in the trapezoid and fired a pass to Dan DaSilva. The forward one-timed a shot over Grubauer’s arm with 34.3 seconds left in regulation to knot the contest.
In overtime, Byers would strip the puck from a Sharks defenseman and then spot Wellman flying behind the Worcester defense. Skating in alone on Grosenick, Wellman fired a shot off of the goaltender’s glove and in for the winner.
Grubauer improved to 12-11-1 with the win, while Grosenick made 22 saves but fell to 17-12-0.
Coupled with the Norfolk Admirals’ 6-3 win at Binghamton, the Bears remain one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot with seven games remaining. The Bears’ fourth consecutive victory overall moves the team’s mark to 36-25-4-4.
The Bears will continue their season-long five-game road trip tomorrow, April 6 with a visit to face the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Faceoff from the Webster Bank Arena is set for 3:00 PM. The game will be simulcast on ABC-27’s RTV Channel 27.2, Comcast 246, Verizon Fios 461, Blue Ridge 152 and Kuhn 67 in central Pennsylvania. It is also available on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WKBO-AM 1230, WRBT-FM 94.9 HD-2 and WOYK-AM 1350, and on WHP-AM 580 on the iHeart Radio application for smartphone users.
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, C Peter LeBlanc, RW Joel Rechlicz and LW Nathan Walker…Hershey finished the night 0-for-1 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill…G Philipp Grubauer earned his first victory since February 15…C Jeff Taffe extended his point streak to four games (2-3-5) with his second-period assist.