Bears back in first place after downing Bridgeport, 6-3
Coupled with a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton loss at home against Philadelphia, the BEARS put a 6-3 win to good use in Bridgeport. With the club's 21st win of the season and now 49 points, HERSHEY leads the East Division by one point over the Penguins and two points over third place Norfolk.
HERSHEY took an early 1-0 lead thanks to the efforts of Kyle Wilson. With the game scoreless at the 6:59 mark, Wilson forced a Bridgeport turnover and went the distance on a breakaway. The goal was his sixth of the season, and the BEARS led 1-0. HERSHEY would run the score out to 2-0 when Alexandre Giroux struck for a power play marker at 13:32 to build a 2-0 advantage. Moving the puck quickly in the offensive zone, Timo Helbling fed Giroux for the one-timer, with Tomas Fleischmann picking up a playmaker as well. After Frans Nielsen tipped in a Drew Fata shot for Bridgeport at 15:50, HERSHEY rebounded almost immediately with Louis Robitaille's fourth goal of the season. The lamp-lighter for Louis was his fourth of the season, and it came just 16 seconds after Nielsen's goal at 16:06. HERSHEY fired 13 shots at two Bridgeport goaltenders, as starter Billy Thompson was pulled after Robitaille's goal. Thompson allowed three goals on 12 shots, while backup Michael Mole stopped the only shot he saw in relief. The BEARS led the game 3-1 after one.
Bridgeport would close to within a goal when Drew Fata scored his second goal of the season at 4:53 of the second period. The Tigers then drew even with Jason Pitton's second goal of the year at 12:59, but Dave Steckel would get the BEARS back in front before the period came to a close. Steckel tipped a Trevor Byrne shot past Bridgeport's Mole for his 11th goal of the season. As the period came to a close, Blake Comeau took a five-minute boarding major for blasting Dean Arsene into the wall as icing was called in the HERSHEY zone. Comeau also earned a game misconduct for the hit. The BEARS took a slim 4-3 lead to the dressing room after 40 minutes.
Wilson would pick up his second goal of the game and his seventh of the season at 13:11 of the third period to lift the BEARS to a 5-3 lead. Quintin Laing scored an empty-net goal to finish off the Tigers. The win for HERSHEY was the first in three tries this season against Bridgeport.
Notes: The BEARS traveled game day to Bridgeport for the game, arriving just 20 minutes prior to pre-game warm-ups. A traffic tie-up on Interstate 95 in Connecticut was to blame. Jonas Johansson was recalled to Washington but did not play for the Capitals in Buffalo against the Sabres. Steckel's goal was his fourth in his last five games. HERSHEY will face Philadelphia Wednesday back at GIANT Center at 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Nycholat picked up the lone assist on an Alex Ovechkin goal in Washington's 6-3 loss to Buffalo.
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American Hockey League Stories from December 26, 2006
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