SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Michael Chaput chipped in two points and then netted the shootout winner, as the Springfield Falcons capped off their regular-season home finale with a 4-3 win over the Hershey Bears on Saturday night at MassMutual Center.
Ryan Stoa would start things off for Hershey, taking a bank pass from Casey Wellman and ripping a snap shot from the high slot past the blocker of Falcons goaltender Mike McKenna 7:29 into the game.
The Falcons would answer at 9:10 during their first power play, on Chaput’s 19th goal of the season. The forward set himself up in the right circle, and collected a perfect cross-ice pass from Frederic St. Denis. Chaput hurried a wrist shot past Philipp Grubauer before the netminder could get across to challenge.
Springfield would then forge ahead for the first time in the game on a strong play by Tim Erixon. The defenseman carried the puck all the way down the left wall, and found Jean-Francois Jacques alone at the back door for a slam-dunk at 15:36.
Trailing early in the second period, the Bears were handed a second power play shortly after Springfield was successful killing Hershey’s first. On this chance, the Bears were unable to get comfortably set up. David Kolomatis had to hurry a shot from the point toward the net, and Jeff Taffe set up in the slot to tip it past McKenna at 4:53.
Just 57 seconds later, the Bears grabbed their first lead of the game. McKenna would stop Dane Byers on a breakaway from the blue line, knocking the puck to his left. Kris Newbury hurried over to the puck and fired it toward the net front. The puck deflected off of a Falcons defenseman and past McKenna for Newbury’s 18th of the season and a 3-2 Hershey advantage.
The Bears, who found themselves in penalty trouble at several key times of the game, went to the kill after a four-on-four situation expired in the period’s final minute. Carrying down the left side, Sean Collins fired a slap shot that beat Grubauer over the glove and banked in off of the corner post at 19:10, tying the game.
Neither team scored in a third period in which Springfield outshot Hershey 12-6. Each team earned one shot in a scoreless overtime.
Stoa became the new league leader in shootout goals, tallying his ninth of the year to put Hershey ahead after Springfield’s Cody Goloubef missed on the opening chance. Casey Wellman put the Bears ahead by two, but McKenna would stop the Bears’ next three attempts. Jacques and Chaput tallied in rounds four and five and won the game on McKenna’s denial of Byers on the final chance.
Grubauer falls to 12-11-2 on the season, making 28 saves through 65 minutes and two of five in the shootout. McKenna stopped 16 of 19 through regulation and overtime, and added three shootout stops to improve to 22-8-1 on the season.
The Bears earned one point to move to 37-25-5-5 on the season (84 points). The Norfolk Admirals’ 3-0 win over the Worcester Sharks also gives them 84 points. The Bears will remain in eighth place, holding the tiebreaker of two more regulation wins than Norfolk, and return home to host the Binghamton Senators tomorrow at 5:00 PM. The game is sold out, but 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. The Bears Radio Network is proudly presented by Turkey Hill Minit Markets. Fans may also watch the game for a small fee at http://www.ahllive.com.
NOTES: The Bears healthy scratches were D Brett Flemming, RW Stanislav Galiev, RW Caleb Herbert, RW Joel Rechlicz and LW Nathan Walker…C Peter LeBlanc was recalled by the Washington Capitals earlier in the day…Hershey finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-6 on the penalty kill…The Bears finished their season-long five-game road trip unbeaten in regulation (3-0-1-1) and extended their regulation unbeaten streak to seven games overall (5-0-1-1)…C Kris Newbury extended his point streak to five games (4-4-8)…LW Dane Byers extended his point streak to four games with his assist (2-3-5).