NORFOLK, Va. – Former Hershey Bears forward Dave Steckel scored with 59.8 seconds left in the second period, a goal that turned out to be the winner as the Norfolk Admirals went on to a 3-1 victory on Friday night at Norfolk Scope. The win pushes the Admirals into the Calder Cup Playoffs and eliminates the Bears from postseason play with one game remaining.
Norfolk would excite the Scope crowd early, scoring on their first shot of the game. After William Karlsson emerged from a puck battle in the left wing corner, he found Emerson Etem backing up inside the left circle. Etem then snapped a one-timer over the blocker of Grubauer at 2:19 for his 24th of the season and second in as many games.
The Bears would kill off a Norfolk power play later in the frame, and would battle for the equalizer. Not long after Grubauer denied Nic Kerdiles on a breakaway from the blue line, the Bears would get possession in the offensive zone. Brandon Segal worked a pass up the right boards, where Tyson Strachan floated a wrist shot. The puck sailed past a screened Brad Thiessen at 14:53 for the tying goal.
The two teams would then play an entertaining and tight second, with two power play chances for each squad. Norfolk would get the last chance of the frame, and although unable to convert, got the go-ahead marker shortly afterward. A centering pass by Kerdiles would be knocked down in front. Grubauer would poke at the puck but Steckel lifted it home to give the Admirals a 2-1 lead.
Max Friberg sealed the win by hitting the empty net with 28 seconds left in regulation.
Grubauer made 23 saves on 25 shots but took the loss to fall to 13-13-2. Thiessen stopped 21 of 22 in the Norfolk net and improved to 8-6-2.
With the loss, the Bears record falls to 38-27-5-5. The club will finish in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bears close out the regular season tomorrow, April 19 at 7:00 PM against the Adirondack Phantoms. 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 injury scratch was RW Casey Wellman…The Bears healthy scratches were C Peter LeBlanc, C Ryan Potulny, RW Joel Rechlicz, C Chandler Stephenson, LW Nathan Walker and D Patrick Wellar…Hershey finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill…The Bears finished with a record of 15-17-4-2 on the road in 2013-14…The Bears will not qualify for the postseason for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign, and for the first time since the affiliation with the Washington Capitals began in 2005-06.