BELLEVILLE, Ont. – A team scuffling for every single victory it can muster needs many heroes, especially while away from home. Hershey continued its march through the Canadian members of the North Division in Belleville.The Bears certainly found that hero in goal from Pheonix Copley as he stole the show and kept the Senators quiet all night.
The visiting Bears found themselves behind the eight ball before the puck even dropped. One of Hershey’s hottest players of late, Riley Barber, earned an automatic one-game suspension for taking an instigator penalty in the dying seconds of Friday night.
After an initial five shot outburst by the Senators, the disadvantage didn’t bother the guests. In the midst of a line change, Barber’s replacement on the top line Dustin Gazley looked cross-ice to rookie Connor Hobbs. Hobbs walked in and fired Hershey’s first ever goal in Belleville. The goal marked the third game in a row the Bears have opened the scoring.
The lead extended midway through the second for the chocolate and white. Tyler Graovac and Mathias Bau were engaged in puck battles in the corner to the left of Marcus Hogberg. Bau was knocked on his wallet but got up and found Wayne Simpson in the slot. Simpson unleashed a half-slapper from the high danger area of the slot and hit pay dirt making it 2-0 Hershey on his 11th goal of the year.
Carrying the momentum Hershey drew a power-play, their second of the game and continued to tilt the ice. Despite playing the league’s worst penalty kill, the bears could not convert and carried a 2-0 lead into the third.
Holding a record of 5-22-0-1 when trailing after two periods the, Senators showed no sign of rolling over in the third. The teams traded power play opportunities to no avail for either side and then Belleville began tilting the ice in their favor. Unfortunately for them, Copley was on his game and would not be denied. Copley saw a game-high 12 shots in the third from the Senators and turned them all aside.
Desperate to find any sort of offense the Senators pulled Hogberg for the extra attacker. The attempt failed as Tyler Lewington found the open cage for the dagger at 18:48. Hershey hung on for the 3-0 win and third straight win.
With 28 saves on all 28 shots, Copley picks up his first win since January 6th. The shutout was his first of the season as well, he improves to 9-12-5. Marcus Hogberg shopped 21 of 23 and falls to 3-5-1 on the year.
1). Pheonix Copley 28 Saves
2). Connor Hobbs 1 G
3). Maxime Lajoie
Connor Hobbs scores his first goal since October 28th against Providence. Regular power-play shooter and quarterback Chris Bourque off at the Olympics gives Hobbs prime power play time. Though his goal tonight was not on the power-play, the additional ice time and responsibility gives the young rookie confidence and something he can build on as he continues to grow and develop.
Hershey closes out the Canadian portion of the four-game road trip on Monday at Air Canada Centre against the Marlies at 3 PM. Toronto comes into the contest winners of six in seven games in February. Riley Barber will return to the lineup for the Bears in Toronto Belleville meanwhile remains at home to host the Utica Comets.