Game Preview: Bears at Crunch, 7 p.m.
Hershey Bears (24-27-4-5) at Syracuse Crunch (35-18-3-3)
Friday, March 9, 2018, 7 p.m.
Oncenter War Memorial Arena
REFEREE: Beaudry Halkidis (32), Peter Schlittenhardt (12)
LINESMEN: Rick Lembo (25), Todd Plouffe (19)
Broadcast Information (Pre-game 6:30 p.m.)
RADIO: WQIC-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, Zack Fisch, the Voice of the Bears, on the call
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream, Caps Radio 24/7
WATCH LIVE: AHLLive.com
LAST TIME OUT: The Bears return to the ice tonight for the first time since last Sunday when they fell to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, 3-2 in a shootout, at Giant Center. The teams traded breakaway goals in the opening period, with Corban Knight scoring shorthanded for Lehigh Valley at 7:54, and Joe Whitney answering for the Bears at 16:09. Hershey briefly took a lead in the second period on Wayne Simpson’s 12th goal of the season, but Mikhail Vorobyev tied the game at 13:56 of the middle stanza. With the game deadlocked thanks to 33 saves from Hershey’s Pheonix Copley, the teams remained scoreless through regulation and overtime. In the shootout, Vorobyev scored the deciding goal to give the Phantoms a sixth straight win vs. the Bears this season. The Crunch are also coming off a one-goal loss as they dropped a 5-4 overtime decision on home ice to Laval last Saturday. Despite outshooting the Rocket 37-22, Laval scored five times on netminder Eddie Pasquale, as the Rocket scored three unanswered to rally from a two goal third period deficit to earn the win.
LAST TIME VS. SYRACUSE: Tonight is the first meeting between the two teams since Nov. 15 when the Bears came away with a 4-2 win at Giant Center. After a scoreless first period, Anthony Cirelli, now with the Tampa Bay Lightning, opened the scoring on the power play at just 43 seconds into the period to make it 1-0 Crunch. After just one goal in the first 40 minutes, the teams combined for five in the third period, with Jeremy Langlois tying the game just 27 seconds into the frame, Chris Bourque adding a pair of goals, and Lucas Johansen hitting the empty net to lead the Bears to a win. Hershey went 0-for-7 on the power play, while Syracuse was 1-for-4.
LAST TIME IN THE ‘CUSE: It’s been over a year since Hershey last visited the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. Hershey went 1-0-1-0 last year in Syracuse with the first game being an overtime loss on Dec. 28 at the hands of current Tampa Bay rookie sensation Yanni Gourde who scored in the extra session to give the Crunch a 3-2 win. Hershey’s last game in Syracuse came on Mar. 3, 2017 as the Bears rolled to a 5-1 win. Hershey got goals from Tom Gilbert, Riley Barber, Christian Djoos, and a pair of tallies from Christian Thomas in the win. The game was Pheonix Copley’s first since being reacquired by Washington at the NHL trade deadline. The goaltender was sensational, stopping 27 shots and earning first star honors despite having to miss the final 13:21 of the game due to dehydration. Hershey went 2-for-4 on the power play while Syracuse was 0-for-9.
BUDAJ A BLAST FROM THE PAST: Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Lightning loaned goaltender Peter Budaj to Syracuse for conditioning. The goaltender hasn’t played for Tampa Bay since Dec. 29 after suffering a lower-body injury. For the Bears, facing Budaj is a blast from the past. The netminder skated with Hershey for his first three professional seasons from 2002-05. In 133 regular season games with Hershey, Budaj went 56-55-10, with a 2.70 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. He posted 10 shutouts during his time as a member of the Chocolate and White. The Slovakian netminder has played against Hershey just one other time in his career, stopping 20 shots in a 1-0 loss to Hershey as a member of the St. John’s IceCaps on Nov. 30, 2014. The AHL’s 2015-16 Goalie of the Year is 3-3-1 in seven games with Tampa Bay this season.
CHASING MITCH: Hershey’s Chris Bourque returned to the club last weekend after missing three weeks while skating for Team USA at the Winter Olympics. He scored his 13th goal of the season in Saturday’s win over Utica, giving him 192 career regular season goals with the Chocolate and White. He is just two goals away from tying AHL Hall of Fame member Mitch Lamoureux for 7th all-time in franchise history in goals scored. The last time Bourque played the Crunch he struck twice, and the veteran earned his 500th point as a member of the Chocolate and White last year in Syracuse, assisting on a Christian Thomas goal on Dec. 28, 2016.
BEARS-CRUNCH FAST FACTS: Syracuse goaltender Eddie Pasquale was supposed to be a member of the Bears in 2014-15, but a hip injury prevented him from ever lacing them up for the Chocolate and White, and opened the door for then rookie Pheonix Copley to join the Bears….Syracuse’s Matthew Peca played under Hershey assistant coach Reid Cashman at Quinnipiac, where he was also teammates with Hershey’s Jeremy Langlois for two seasons. Langlois (31 points) and Peca (30 points) finished top two on the team in scoring in 2012-13….Vitek Vanecek’s next appearance will be the 100th in his professional career.
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