NORFOLK, Va. – Emerson Etem and Matt Bailey scored late first-period goals, and along with a perfect penalty kill, helped the Norfolk Admirals take a lead they would not relinquish in a 5-3 decision over the Hershey Bears on Wednesday night at Norfolk Scope.
The first period was a roller coaster of offense as the lead changed hands twice, with the hosts getting on the board first. Defenseman Josh Manson would grab a loose puck at the center point and fire a shot wide of the Hershey net. The puck took a lively bounce off of the back wall and banked in behind Philipp Grubauer at 6:40 for Manson’s first professional goal.
Another rookie would get his first professional goal and tie the game. Forward Chandler Stephenson’s was a bit more conventional as he collected a pass slid his way by Cameron Schilling, used an Admirals blueliner as a screen and snapped a low shot past Brad Thiessen at 8:39.
The Bears then forged ahead for the first time in the game, when Michael Latta finished off a two-on-one rush with Nicolas Deschamps by deking Thiessen with a backhand shot at 15:06.
A late-period penalty would put the Bears on their second penalty kill, and Norfolk would cash in quickly. Andre Petersson’s point shot was sent into traffic, and an off-balance Etem was able to deflect the shot past Grubauer at 18:52 for the equalizer. The goal was reviewed but stood.
On the very next offensive zone play, a centering pass by Chris Wagner would deflect off of a Bears defenseman and sit loose in front of Grubauer. Before the netminder could grab it, Bailey swooped in and backhanded it home with 11 seconds left in the period for a 3-2 Norfolk lead.
The Admirals would also make their next power play count, forging ahead at 7:58 of the second when Max Friberg walked out of a right-corner battle all alone in front and slipped a shot past Grubauer.
The Bears nearly made it a one-goal game on their third man advantage, but Casey Wellman’s rebound chance banged off of the left goal post inside the final two minutes of the middle period.
Hershey finally pulled within one when Deschamps scored on a Norfolk turnover. Chay Genoway would hold the puck alive at the center point, push it ahead to Deschamps and the forward promptly fired it past Thiessen at 6:22 of the third.
Grubauer made 27 saves on 31 shots but his record dropped to 13-2-2. Thiessen improved to 7-6-2 with 19 saves in the game.
With the win, the Admirals vault over the Bears into eighth place with a record of 39-25-3-7 (88 points). The Bears slip into ninth with a mark of 38-26-5-5 (86 points). With the rematch on Friday, the Bears must earn one point to mathematically stay alive heading into Saturday, when the team returns home to host the Adirondack Phantoms on at 7:00 PM. Limited tickets are available at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or by visiting TicketMaster.com. All games are 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 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 injury scratch was C Matt Watkins…The Bears healthy scratches were D Steve Oleksy, C Ryan Potulny, RW Joel Rechlicz, LW Nathan Walker and D Patrick Wellar…Hershey finished the night 0-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill…The Bears saw their regulation unbeaten streak snapped at eight games (6-1-1-1).