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The Hershey Bears (11-4-0-0) built a four-goal lead then held on for a 5-4 victory over the Bridgeport Islanders (4-8-1-0) on Friday night in front of a crowd of 9,058 at GIANT Center. Hershey's top forward unit of Mike Vecchione, Ethen Frank, and Mike Sgarbossa combined for seven points (2g, 5a), and Ryan Hofer netted his first professional goal.
Vecchione quickly rifled a drop-pass from Frank at the slot past Jakub Skarek at 17:32 of the first period to put Hershey in front by a goal, Vecchione's sixth of the season. Sgarbossa earned a secondary assist on the strike.
With only seconds remaining in the frame, Riley Sutter pressured the puck along the right wall of the attacking zone, forcing it over to Hofer, who whipped a shot past Skarek at 19:52 to send the Bears into the intermission up 2-0.
Bridgeport struck early in the second period when Karson Kuhlman grabbed his own rebound in the slot, and despite the efforts of Hunter Shepard to ramp the puck into the air, it arched down and off the goaltender's back and into the net at 2:55 to cut Hershey's lead in half.
Ivan Miroshnichenko restored the two-goal lead for the Bears when Nicky Leivermann lobbed a pass ahead to the forward who sped in on a breakaway and slipped the puck through the pads of Skarek for his fourth of the season at 4:10. For Leivermann, the assist marked the defender's first pro point.
Less than four minutes later Bogdan Trineyev buried his third of the season on a pass from Sgarbossa at 11:46, with Sutter earning a secondary assist.
Sgarbossa then set up Frank early in the third period on a goal that was held up by a brief video review, after Skarek's skate pushed the right post off its moorings. The play was ruled a goal for the Bears at 1:22, giving Frank his sixth of the season to tie Vecchione for the team lead; Vecchione also received credit for an assist.
The Islanders mounted a comeback, as Jeff Kubiak spun around a defender and threw the puck on net, with his shot finding a seam at the right post at 7:37. Dennis Chowlowski shot from the point took a skip along the ice and deflected past Shepard at 9:08 to trim Hershey's lead to two goals.
Otto Koivula then scored on an odd-man rush at 12:34 to bring the Islanders to within one.
With Skarek pulled for an extra man in the final moments, Bridgeport continued to press, but the Bears held on to secure two points and their second win of the week. The Islanders outshot Hershey 18-3 in the final frame.
Shots finished 35-28 in favor of the Islanders. Shepard went 31-for-35 in securing his sixth victory of the season; Skarek went 23-for-28 in the defeat for Bridgeport. Hershey was 0-for-2 on the power play; the Islanders went 0-for-1 with the man advantage.
The Bears now travel to Bridgeport to take on the Islanders on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at Total Mortgage Arena. Hershey returns home to GIANT Center to host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. for Canteen Vending Turkey Shoot Night; all fans are welcome post-game to take part on the ice to shoot for a holiday turkey. Purchase tickets for the game by CLICKING HERE.