Providence, RI – Sometimes there are games that it’s a shame that a team had to lose. Tonight’s contest in Providence was definitely one of those games. Both sides threw a total of 73 shots at each other in regulation. After a hard fought game and highly entertaining fire wagon overtime, the final result came down to a shootout where the Bruins scored three times to down Hershey by a final of 3-2.
For the second consecutive game, the Bears got off to a fast start. This time the Hershey jumped out to 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Jakub Vrana (12th) and Christian Djoos (fifth). Hershey had the better of the chances and despite a response goal by Wayne Simpson (13th), held a lead 2-1 lead and 13-7 shot advantage.
Providence took two periods but eventually tied it up. Tough to fault Vanecek for either of Providence’s two goals. The first of which was a slick give and go passing play and the second was a defensive breakdown that left Tommy Cross all alone in front on the powerplay.
Coming off a good night in Hartford, Vitek Vanecek was on his game. He was stopping deflections, controlling rebounds and staying with the play. All things that had plagued him of late. Vanecek made a career high 37 saves in regulation and in overtime. Seventeen of those saves came in the second period alone as the Bears allowed a season-high 18 shots in a period.
To his credit, Zane McIntyre was on brick wall mode as well. The Bears really pressed hard late in the third including a powerplay with 6:31 to go but they couldn’t solve McIntrye. Hershey thought they might’ve won the game at the end of regulation when a Colby Williams shot beat a screened McIntyre. A quick review showed that the Bears defender’s shot went in after the clock hit zero to end the third.
The Bears continued to be on the wrong side of luck as they have been throughout the month of January. Chris Bourque hit the post twice in the third while Zach Sanford fanned on what would’ve been the game-winner with just seconds to go in overtime.
The Bruins carried most of the play in the overtime period but the pace was frantic and chaotic. Both sides had odd man rushes but neither could score sending the game to a shootout. Providence scored on all three of its shots while Christian Djoos scored the Bears lone goal.
Christian Djoos has four points in his last four games. The season has been a productive one for the Swedish defender who has already set a career-high with 26 points ( 5 G, 21 A) in 34 games. He had 22 points in 64 games with the Bears last season.
While a shootout loss like this is a tough pill to swallow for the Bears, it gives them a chance to do something the haven’t done in awhile: win a week. A win tomorrow night in Springfield would send Hershey into the all-star break with five of a possible six points from this week.