BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Kris Newbury tallied four points, Michael Latta broke a third-period tie and David Leggio made 25 saves to help the Hershey Bears claim their fifth consecutive victory, a 5-4 decision over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday afternoon at Webster Bank Arena.
For the second consecutive day, the Bears played through a scoreless first period and had to kill a penalty in the process. Leggio turned aside eight Bridgeport chances, while Sound Tigers netminder Kevin Poulin denied all nine Hershey shots.
The second period was anything but uneventful, as the teams combined for six goals. The Bears scored the first three to build what appeared to be a comfortable advantage. Newbury started things off by blocking a Joe Finley point shot in the waning seconds of a Sound Tigers power play, and taking off on a breakaway. His chip shot eluded the glove of Poulin at 2:53 for a 1-0 lead.
Newbury later made a perfect diagonal pass to Casey Wellman after faking to the net. Wellman then fired a snap shot under the crossbar for his 18th goal of the season at 7:56.
Newbury staked the Bears to a 3-0 lead at 10:17, but it was a nice pass by Cameron Schilling that started the play. From the center point, Schilling fired a slap-pass through traffic that Newbury redirected past Poulin from a sharp angle.
Bridgeport then mounted an incredible comeback, beginning just 23 seconds after Newbury’s second tally. Off of a faceoff win, Alan Quine headed to the front of the net, and battled for the rebound of Jake Newton’s shot from the right point. Quine then lifted it over a sprawled Leggio to get the hosts on the board.
Andrey Pedan scored a pair of goals 1:39 apart to pull the Sound Tigers even. His first came on an odd-man counter rush led by Justin Johnson. The winger pulled up on the half wall and sent a pass to the trailing Pedan, who one-timed a slap shot past Leggio at 14:18.
Then with the Bears on a power play, Pedan stole the puck and skated down the left wing. Entering the Bears zone, he made two crafty stickhandling moves before cutting to the hash marks and wristing a shot past Leggio at 15:51 for the shorthanded equalizer.
Bridgeport went on top for the first time in the game at 1:31 of the third, moments after Jeff Taffe hit the post on a wide-open net and with Poulin down. Shortly after the missed chance, Dustin Gazley was sent to the penalty box and 26 seconds into the ensuing power play, Brant Harris ripped a slapper fed from Pedan past Leggio.
The Bears would battle back to tie the game on hard work by captain Dane Byers. Setting up at the top of Poulin’s crease, Byers provided enough of a screen and got enough of a Schilling point shot to deflect his 13th goal of the season past Poulin at 5:40.
The Bears would go back on top for good on a failed wraparound bid by forward Chris Brown. The winger made a strong play to carry the puck around the Bridgeport net, and when his wraparound shot slid through the crease, Latta was there to snap it home at 10:23 to round out the scoring.
Bridgeport would fail on a power play late in regulation.
Leggio won his fourth straight start and improves to 22-17-3. Poulin stopped 28 shots but fell to 1-10-1 on the season.
The Bears record improves to 37-25-4-4 on the season with six games remaining. With losses by Norfolk and Albany, the Bears move into the eighth seed and sit one point out of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bears will continue their season-long five-game road trip on Friday, April 11 with a visit to face the Binghamton Senators. Faceoff from the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena is set for 7:05 PM. The game is 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. Fans may also watch the game for a small fee at http://www.ahllive.com.
The team returns home for Fan Appreciation Night on Sunday, April 13, a 5:00 PM matchup against the 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 RW Stanislav Galiev, C Peter LeBlanc, D Jeff May, RW Joel Rechlicz and LW Nathan Walker…Hershey finished the night 0-for-7 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill…LW Kris Newbury matched a Bears season high for points in a game, last set by Brandon Segal on January 5 vs. Manchester…The Bears won their third straight on the road, a new season high…G David Leggio is 5-1-0 in his last six starts, with today marking his fourth straight win.