HERSHEY, PA- Needing a bounce-back week after a rough stretch and a poor performance on Friday night, the Bears delivered.  It took a period for the crowd to make their presence known on Teddy Bear Toss Night, but once Teddy’s were unleashed it was game on. Hershey rode the momentum all the way to an overtime victory of division-leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Hershey faced some adversity before the game even began. Ahead of tonight’s game needing an extra body in replacement of injured Chandler Stephenson,  the Washington Capitals announced they had recalled Hershey’s first line center, Travis Boyd.

After a nice quick start by the Bears, it was the Penguins who would strike first. A point shot from Zach Trotman hit the right post. The puck bounced around as Pheonix Copley dove to cover it. Amidst a scramble around the net, Gage Quinney hit pay dirt to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead for his fifth goal of the season.

The Penguins added to their lead later in the first. The Bears failed to clear and turned it over. Garrett Wilson picked off the clearing attempt at the Bears blue line and found Quinney behind the goal line. Quinney centered to Daniel Sprong in the left faceoff dot and he beat Copley for the 2-0 lead.

Hershey’s pressure in the second would finally pay dividends with 6:33 to go in the frame. Hampus Gustafsson cut off a dump in in the Bears offensive zone. He found Liam O’Brien in the slot wide open and O’Brien buried it to send Teddy Bears cascading onto the ice.

The Bears set a new record with 25,017 stuffed animals tossed onto the ice. As would be expected with that kind of number, there was a long delay. The Bears players like Colby Williams found time to have some fun:

Despite the long delay, it was decided they would play out the remaining 6:33 of the second once the ice was clear of animals. Long layoff aside, the Bears maintained the momentum they gained from the goal. Hershey ultimately outshot the Penguins 13-5 in the second with in addition to a post hit by Mathias Bau.

The Bears carried their momentum from the second period into the third. Liam O’Brien finished off a nice give and go passing play from Chris Bourque to score his second of the night on Anthony Peters. The quick passing play froze the Penguins netminder to even the score at two apiece.

Shortly there afterword, Zack Aston-Reese hit Bourque dangerously in the Hershey zone. Bears penalty leader Tyler Lewington took exception and dropped the gloves with Aston-Reese.

The Bears then took their first lead of the night on a shot by Jonas Siegenthaler. The point shot found its way through traffic in front of Peters and bounced in for Hershey’s first lead of the night at 3-2.

The Penguins, however, were not simply going to roll over and proved it five minutes after the Siegenthaler strike. In a similar play to the Penguins second goal, the Bears turned the puck over at their own blue line. Tom Sestito got the out to Josh Archibald and then went to the net. Archibald threw the puck right back to Sestito who was alone in front of Copley and he deflected it in to tie the game at 3-3. The tying goal came with 5:16 remaining in the third.

Despite some chances and rushes by the Bears, they could not regain their lead in regulation. Garrett Wilson took what would become a fateful delay of game penalty with 38 seconds left in regulation when he cleared the puck over the glass.

Hershey’s power play has been in a rough patch by the time 1:52 seconds has slipped away from the unit. That is when the unit finally broke through thanks to Chris Bourque. He switched positions with Aaron Ness from the right point to the left. He faked like he was going back to Ness then walked in and blasted a slap shot home past Peters for the 4-3 bears win.

Three Stars:
1) Chris Bourque HER (1G,1A)
2) Liam O’Brien HER (2G)
3) Jonas Siegenthaler HER (1G)

After the game, Bears Coach Troy Mann was happy that the team accomplished the goals he set out before the game today.

“There’s three things we wanted to accomplish going into this game was 1. Win the week and get the four (out of six) points. 2. We wanted to carry the momentum from last night. We really talked this morning about how last night was the type of game we need to play to be successful based on the makeup of our team. Thirdly this was the fourth crack at trying to get above .500 so it was nice to accomplish all three of those tonight,” said Mann.

Hershey (11-10-0-3) will have another three-in-three starting next Friday on the road against Lehigh. They’ll return home Saturday to host the Phantoms and then welcome the Penguins once again on Sunday.

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