Bears Complete Perfect Home Stand, Pull One Point Out of Eighth
The Hershey Bears Hockey Club picked up all four points in its two-game homestand over the weekend, and with help from out of town, have drawn within one point of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with nine games remaining.
The Albany Devils came to town on Friday, playing with stingy defense and strong goaltending. The Devils would get the jump on the Bears on their last shot of the opening period, when Stefan Matteau's centering pass from behind the net deflected into the net. Scott Wedgewood stopped all 14 Hershey shots through the first and second periods, allowing the Devils to hold their lead into the final frame. But halfway through the period, the Bears roared back with four unanswered goals. Dane Byers first deflected a slap-pass from Kris Newbury beyond the reach of Wedgewood to tie the game. Chay Genoway would then become the hero and the game's first star when his long-range wrist shot found the back of the net for the eventual winner. Brandon Segal then tallied the insurance marker and the empty-net finisher, as the Bears took a 4-1 victory.
The Bears and St. John's IceCaps then needed 12 rounds of a shootout to decide their Saturday contest. Jeff Taffe and Kyle MacKinnon traded second-period goals, the only ones in 65 minutes of play. Following an overtime penalty kill on which Leggio shined, Ryan Stoa and Jerome Samson would swap first-round shootout tallies. Carl Klingberg later put the hosts ahead, and it would be up to Byers to knot the score in the fifth round, which he did. Tyson Strachan hit paydirt in the top of the 12th, while Leggio denied nine consecutive opponents to secure a thrilling win. HERSHEY BEARS NEWS AND NOTES
STRACHAN STRIKES: D Tyson Strachan converted his first shootout attempt of the season - in the first half of the 12th round - to push the Bears to a 2-1 victory over the St. John's IceCaps on Saturday. The goal helped the Bears sweep their weekend homestand.
LEGG WORK: G David Leggio manned the crease for both of Hershey's wins this weekend. In earning his 19th and 20th victories of the season, Leggio stopped a total of 53 out of 55 shots on goal (.964 save percentage, 0.96 goals-against average) and moved in to fifth place among AHL goaltenders in saves (1139). He added 10 saves on 12 shootout opponents on Saturday, improving his shootout record to 5-3 and tying for fourth in the AHL in shootout wins. In his last four wins, Leggio has one shutout, a save percentage of .973 and goals-against average of 0.73.
STELLAR STOA: C Ryan Stoa started off the Bears' 12-round shootout with his eighth specialty goal of the season, tying him for the AHL lead. Stoa has participated in 10 of the Bears' 11 shootouts, most among his Bears teammates, and has an 80% success rate.
GAME-WINNING GENO: D Chay Genoway picked up his first game- winning goal of the season with 5:57 left to play in Friday's win over Albany.
SEGAL DOUBLES UP: RW Brandon Segal picked up his fourth multi- goal game of the season, scoring the third-period insurance goal and empty-net tally on Friday in the Bears' win over Albany.
GREAT DANE: Bears captain Dane Byers contributed in big ways for the Bears in both of his team's wins. He scored the game-tying goal on Friday, one of two Hershey power play goals, and was named the game's second star. On Saturday, with the shootout on the line in the last of the fifth round, Byers scored to force seven more rounds and an eventual win over St. John's.
LET'S START WITH TAFFE: C Jeff Taffe took over the Bears' goal- scoring lead with his 18th of the season on Saturday vs. St. John's, the first goal of the team's eventual 2-1 victory. Taffe is tied with C Peter LeBlanc for the Bears' lead in first-goals (five). Five of RW Chris Brown's six came with his time in Portland.
- Coupled with the Norfolk Admirals' two regulation losses this weekend, Hershey is one point behind the Admirals for eighth place in the conference.
- Hershey's 22 home-ice wins rank second in the Eastern Conference.
- Hershey was perfect against Albany in their four-game season series.
- The Bears' upcoming road trip spans five games, the club's longest of the season.
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