Bears Start 2019 with 6-4 Win Over Grand Rapids
January 5, 2019The Hershey Bears kicked off 2019 with a 6-4 win over the Grand Rapids Griffins on Saturday night at Giant Center. The win marked the first time in franchise history Hershey defeated Grand Rapids on home ice, improving to 1-4-0-0.
The Bears exploded out of the starting gate with three goals in the opening frame, en route to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Brian Pinho started the scoring after potting his second goal of the season at 8:55 on an offensive zone transition. Juuso Ikonen feathered a pass across the slot for an open Pinho, who beat Griffins goaltender Harri Sateri moving to his left. Hershey doubled their lead at 11:01 after executing a slick play on an offensive zone face off win. Mike Sgarbossa won the draw and snapped the puck backwards to Aaron Ness at the point. Ness' shot was redirected by Riley Barber in the slot for his 12th goal of the season.
Grand Rapids answered to cut their deficit in half only 96 seconds later. Matt Puempel threw the puck on Vitek Vanecek from a sharp angle, and Wade Megan banged home the rebound at 12:37. The Chocolate and White received the last laugh in the opening stanza and restored their two goal lead at the 15:14 mark. Garrett Pilon added his second assist of the night after sending a sub-goal line feed to Shane Gersich at the net front. Gersich, in his first game since December 7 due to an upper-body injury, buried the opportunity for his fourth goal of the season. Shots after 20 minutes were even at 12-12.
Into the second period, Hershey's penalty kill went a successful 4-for-4, and Vanecek turned aside 25 of 26 shots through 40 minutes. Hershey's 3-1 lead carried into the third period. The Bears tacked on insurance shortly into the frame with Aaron Ness third goal of the season at 1:50. On a give-and-go play with Barber, Ness snapped a shot past Sateri to make the score 4-1 Hershey.
Barber added his second goal of the game at 7:05 on a power play snipe from the right wing. Matthew Ford tallied for the Griffins to break a streak of three unanswered goals for the Chocolate and White at 7:37, pulling the score to 5-2. Hershey tallied a second power play goal at 9:41 courtesy of Ryan Sproul scoring against his former team with a blast from the left-point. Chris Terry and Matt Puempel scored for Grand Rapids at 11:49 and 19:21 to ease the bleeding, rounding out a 6-4 final.
Final shots on goal were 39-31 Griffins. Hershey's power play finished 2-for-3 and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. Ness' three-point night (one goal, two assist) tied a career-high. Garrett Pilon also set a career-high with three helpers on the night.
The Hershey Bears return to action on Sunday, January 6 versus the Milwaukee Admirals. It's STAR WARS Night at Giant Center. Variety of STAR WARS characters from local fans groups will be on-site for photo opportunities. Hershey will be wearing specialty STAR WARS themed jerseys which will be auctioned post game. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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