Bears Lose Barnburner, 8-7Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
After starting the season with a 1-1 mark in two road games, the Hershey Bears kicked off the home portion of their 75th AHL season on Saturday night at Giant Center against the Rochester Americans. The Bears jumped out to a 4-1 lead, but ended up losing the special teams battle and ultimately, the game. Rochester scored four power-play goals – three of them in the third period – to skate away with an 8-7 decision. “That was a good start,” said Bears coach Mark French after the game. “We knew energy wasn’t going to be a problem. Home opener, and the players were certainly excited to play in front of the good crowd. We got off to the [good] start, but obviously could have done a better job with the finish.” Hershey struck first, getting a Jeff Taffe goal off a pretty play from Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell got the puck in neutral ice and carved down the left side with Taffe trailing just to the right. Mitchell drew the lone defender, then fed Taffe for a one-timer that eluded Amerks goaltender David Leggio at 7:57 of the first frame. Cameron Schilling also assisted on the goal for the Bears. Three minutes after the opening goal, Hershey’s Matt Clackson and Rochester’s Nick Tarnasky dropped the gloves and had a spirited bout in the slot at the Bears’ end of the ice. Both men landed several strong punches, and the fight finished with Clackson taking Tarnasky down to the ice. Rochester pulled even at 14:38 of the first on a bit of a fluke goal. Amerks’ center Rick Schofield floated a knuckler of a shot from the right circle, and Bears defenseman Patrick McNeill got a piece of it with his hand, but the puck then arced over Bears netminder Dany Sabourin and tumbled into the cage. Seconds after Bears blueliner Cameron Schilling made a sprawling play in his own end to thwart a 2-on-1 bid by the Amerks, the Bears regained the lead. Defenseman Garrett Stafford sent a puck from the point down toward the right side corner, and Mitchell – stationed near the spot where the trapezoid line meets the goal line – deftly deflected the puck past Leggio short side to make it 2-1 at 17:24. The Hershey power play started its own dominant display shortly thereafter. With T.J. Brennan in the box for Rochester, the Bears mounted and sustained constant offensive zone pressure on their first power-play chance of the night. Tomas Kundratek eventually cashed in, parking a rebound behind Leggio to give Hershey a 3-1 lead with 54 seconds left in the first frame. The Amerks got into penalty trouble early in the second and the Bears’ extra-man unit made them pay. With two Rochester skaters in the box, Jon DiSalvatore won an offensive zone draw and went to the slot. After some tic-tac-toe passing, the puck came back to DiSalvatore, who one-timed it past Leggio for a 4-1 Bears lead. Rochester left wing Marcus Foligno, who spent some of his formative years in Hershey while dad Mike was coaching the Bears from 1998-2003, set up the Amerks’ second goal at 5:30 of the second. Foligno fed Evan Rankin in front, and the Bears left him with enough time and space to finish, making the score 4-2. Rochester captain Kevin Porter took an undisciplined slashing call at 7:27 of the second, and the Bears made the Amerks pay with a third straight power-play tally. Stafford took a shot from center point that clicked off Ryan Stoa in front to push the Hershey advantage to 5-2. The Americans did not have a shot on goal between the Schofield and Rankin tallies. Hershey held them without a shot for a span of 10:52 between those two tallies. When the Amerks scored, they tended to score in bunches. Luke Adam scored the Amerks’ first power-play goal of the night at 12:34 for Rochester; it was followed 35 seconds later with a Foligno goal. Foligno’s goal was Rochester’s fourth in a span of just six shots on net. Foligno then used his reach and great body position to protect the puck high in the Hershey zone until he could find Brennan at the top of the right circle. The Rochester blueliner sniped one high into the far corner to make it a 5-5 game with 2:18 left in the second period. The goal was Rochester’s third in a span of just 5:08. Boyd Kane made a sublime setup from behind the Rochester net early in the third period, feeding Mattias Sjogren for a one-timer in front, a shot that put Hershey back on top at 6-5. That’s when the penalty trouble started and when Rochester took control of the contest. Kane, Stanislav Galiev, Staffor and Dmitry Orlov paraded to the penalty box, tasking the Bears’ penalty-killing corps with four missions in a span of 6:58. Hershey was able to kill only one of those, the first one. Rochester erupted for three power-play goals – one of them with a single second left on a brief two-man advantage – in a span of 1:58 to take an 8-6 lead. “I think it’s discipline,” noted French. “You know as a player and as a coach that things are going to roughly even out in terms of calls most likely at the end of the night. And when there is that disparity early, you’ve got to understand that those calls are going to probably come back. But you can’t help the official out by taking undisciplined ones. You knew a certain amount of those were going to come but we certainly could have eliminated the last four.” The Bears pulled Sabourin in the 19th minute, and Stoa’s second goal of the night made it 8-7. That’s how it ended. Hershey had the upper hand on special teams early, but it was all Rochester late. “I think that’s your biggest fear,” said French. “When you know you have the advantage of getting the power plays, you want to make sure you capitalize and we did. Invariably things tip the other way with officiating – and I’m not questioning the officiating –the last of our four penalties were well-deserved and undisciplined. Ultimately, they go 4-for-6 on theirs and win the special-teams battle. You think it’s going to tip back and it did. And they were able to take advantage of it.” The Bears had a short bench in the third period. Ryan Potulny left the game midway through the second and did not return. Garrett Mitchell earned a game misconduct late in the second for engaging in a secondary altercation; the fight finished out a Gordie Howe hat trick for the second-year pro. And Matt Clackson was also out with an ailment in the third, leaving the Bears shorthanded and ill-equipped to kill a slew of successive penalties. While injuries may have been a factor, they’re not an excuse. “Certainly it does [affect a team] early in the season when you lose some guys,” said French. “But we’re certainly not going to use that as an excuse. We had capable guys on the bench you should have been able to stem the tide with the lead we had.” Hershey hosts Binghamton at 5 p.m. at Giant Center on Sunday. NOTES: Saturday's game was the highest scoring home opener in Hershey history ...Taffe (one goal, three assists) and Stafford (four assists) each had four points for Hershey ... DiSalvatore (goal, two assists) had three ... Foligno (two goals, two assists) had four points for Rochester, which also got a three-assist performance from Cody Hodgson ... Each side was assessed 11 penalties totaling 39 minutes.
On Saturday night, both the Hershey Bears and the Binghamton Senators suffered excruciating setbacks after coughing up large leads in high-scoring games on home ice. Both clubs sought to rebound on Sunday at Giant Center, the third game in as many nights for both squads. The Bears were unable to