January 8, 2012
HERSHEY, Pa. – Cody Eakin scored the shootout winner, while Braden Holtby stopped four of five shooters to help the HERSHEY BEARS defeat the Rochester Americans by a 4-3 final score on Sunday evening at GIANT Center.
Both teams were playing the final game of a three-game in three-night stretch but the pace was fairly quick. Both netminders turned aside early chances and it turned out to be the Amerks getting the first power play of the night. HERSHEY’s penalty kill stood tall again and did not allow a shot on goal. On the BEARS’ first power play chance, Leggio was the story, stopping a barrage of BEARS chances.
With the game still scoreless in the second period, the Amerks’ Paul Sczcechura was sent off for an interference penalty. Leggio tried all he could to stop the BEARS but Patrick McNeill deflected a shot from Chris Bourque through the netminder’s pads, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead at 5:56.
The BEARS were then guilty of a hooking penalty, but Christian Hanson was given ample time late on the kill to work his way down the left wing. Leggio stopped Hanson twice, but the BEARS forward banked a third chance off of Leggio’s stick and into the net for a 2-0 lead at 11:32.
Rochester, badly outplayed in the first two periods, tied the score on two third period power-play goals. Just 15 seconds into the frame, Zack Kassian slid his own rebound just beyond the reach of McNeill and Holtby, and at 4:26, T.J. Brennan stickhandled toward the slot and let a wrist shot go that beat Holtby over the glove.
McNeill then had a chance just past the midway point of the third but hit the crossbar. On his next shot chance, he buried a slap shot past the glove of Leggio at 12:55 to give the BEARS a 3-2 lead. But with time ticking down and with Leggio off for an extra attacker, Alex Biega’s left-point shot deflected in the slot right to Kassian, who had a tap-in to tie the score with 1:01 left in regulation and send the game to overtime.
Three seconds into the extra session, Jacob Micflikier was hauled down on a partial breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot on which he was unsuccessful. The BEARS also earned a power play late in the OT but the Amerks held the hosts off of the scoreboard.
Rochester was allowed to shoot first in the shootout, and Kassian buried his chance. Ryan Potulny was then stopped on the BEARS’ first opportunity. Holtby then turned aside Paul Szczechura, giving Keith Aucoin the next chance which he fired through Leggio’s pads. With Brennan hitting the goal post on his chance, Eakin shot through the pads of Leggio to give the BEARS the lead. Holtby then turned aside Corey Tropp and Derek Whitmore to send HERSHEY to victory.
Holtby improves to 12-8-1 on the season, making 28 saves on 31 shots. Leggio put up a valiant effort, stopping 49 of 52 shots, but falls to 10-9-0 on the season.
The BEARS finished the night 1-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-4 on the penalty kill.
HERSHEY moves into first place in the Eastern Conference with the win, improving to 21-8-4-3.
The BEARS will head to North Carolina for a pair of 7:00 PM games against the Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday and Thursday, January 11 and 12. The team returns home on Saturday, January 21 for a 7:00 PM faceoff against the Manchester Monarchs. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.
HERSHEY BEARS season ticket plans are also on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, with many different flexible plans still available. Season ticket plans start as low as $160.
Game Recap: http://theahl.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=1009170