Game Preview: Bears at Thunderbirds, 7:05 PM
(Springfield, MA) - Tonight, the Hershey Bears dance with the Springfield Thunderbirds in the first of back-to-back contests at the MassMutual Center. The Bears previously swept the T-Birds in a two-game set at Giant Center on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 in the midst of an eventual, nine-game winning streak. Both teams are slated to rematch in Springfield on Friday night.
Hershey Bears (25-13-2-3) at Springfield Thunderbirds (23-18-2-0)
January 22, 2020 | 7:05 PM | Game #44 | MassMutual Center
Referees: Conor O'Donnell (41), Jordan Deckard (14)
Linesmen: Luke Galvin (2), Bob St. Lawrence (10)
ATLANTIC DIVISION STANDINGS
Broadcast Information (Pre-game 6:35 p.m.)
RADIO: WQIC-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, WOYK-1350 AM, Voice of the Bears Zack Fisch on the call.
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream, Caps Radio 24/7
WATCH LIVE: AHLTV
LAST TIME OUT:
The Hershey Bears return to action after previously claiming a 4-1 win over the Rochester Americans last Sunday. Martin Fehervary broke a scoreless deadlock at 15:32 of the 2nd period, before receiving run support from Brian Pinho, Garrett Pilon and Riley Sutter in the final frame. Vitek Vanecek made 30 stops on 31 shots to claim first star honors. Springfield looks to ride the momentum after a thrilling, late comeback over the Providence Bruins on Sunday. Down 5-3 in the final minute, Owen Tippett scored at 19:19, and Aleksi Saarela found the equalizer with nine seconds remaining. At 4:20 of sudden-death overtime, Saarela capped the 6-5 comeback win with his second goal of the day.
In three games against the Springfield Thunderbirds in 2019-20, the Chocolate and White have fluctuated from their lowest of lows, to highest of highs. On Nov. 1, the Bears opened their season-series against the T-Birds with an 8-1 loss at the MassMutual Center. The result marked the first time since Oct. 20, 2012 the Chocolate and White yielded eight goals in a single game. Next month, Springfield visited Chocolatetown for back-to-back meetings on Dec. 21 and Dec. 22. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored the overtime game-winner on Dec. 21 to down the Thunderbirds, 2-1. The next night, Hershey erased a 2-0 3rd period deficit and won 3-2. Matt Moulson scored twice to even the score, before Philippe Maillet scored the eventual game-winning goal at 10:43. The victory extended Hershey's win streak to eight games in December, before ending at nine.
Netminder Vitek Vanecek was added to the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic roster on Tuesday. This marks the second straight season Vanecek has been selected to the All-Star Classic. The goaltender's 2.37 goals against average ranks 7th in the AHL and he boasts a 13-7-1 record in 22 games. At the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic in Springfield, Vanecek recorded the best statistics of any goaltender, stopping 18 of 20 shots, posting a 1.06 goals against average, and a .900 save percentage in four games. After winning on Sunday over Rochester, Vanecek is now tied 10th all-time in wins by a Hershey Bears goaltender (65) with Ed Chadwick.
Sophomore forward Garrett Pilon surpassed his rookie goal total set last season after scoring on Sunday night. In 2018-19, Pilon finished the campaign with 10 goals, 23 assists and 33 points in 71 games played. In 42 games this season, the Caps' 2016 3rd round pick has 11 goals, 12 assists and 23 points. Pilon has tallied in his last three games, becoming the fourth player this season for the Chocolate and White to record a three-game goal scoring streak, joining Liam O'Brien, Mike Sgarbossa and Joe Snively.
Riley Sutter scored his first professional goal in Sunday's victory...Matt Moulson fired eight shots on goal last Sunday, setting a new single-game high for any Bears player this season...The Bears are now 17-4-0-1 when scoring the game's first goal and 8-9-2-1 when falling behind first...Hershey enters tonight winless on Wednesday games this season with an 0-4-0-2 record, including 0-3-0-1 on the road...Springfield is 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 games. Only Hershey, Charlotte and Binghamton also have seven or more wins in their previous 10 games within the Eastern Conference...The Thunderbirds are the most penalized team in the Eastern Conference with 665 total penalty minutes, averaging 15.5 penalty minutes per game.
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