Hershey Bears Earn Point in Overtime Loss to Rockford, 4-3
Vitek Vanecek was sensational in goal for the Chocolate and White turning away 36 shots, but the Hershey Bears fell to the Rockford IceHogs in overtime, 4-3 on Saturday. Riley Barber scored late on the power play to force overtime in front of 10,205 fans at Giant Center.
The IceHogs, coming off a 6-3 defeat to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins the night before, opened the scoring Saturday. Down a man after the Bears did not cash in on a 5-on-3 chance, the Rockford scored on an odd-man rush.
At 12:35, Matthew Highmore scored on a rebound for his team leading 21st goal of the season. The tally was the fifth shorthanded goal allowed by the Bears this season, and sixth shorthanded goal scored by Rockford.
Rockford carried a 1-0 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes in addition to a 20-7 shots advantage. In the middle frame, Hershey drew even on their ninth shot of the night. From the right-wing, Zach Sill fed a streaking Liam O’Brien to the net on a partial break. O’Brien potted his 14th goal of the season on a snap shot past Collin Delia to even the score at 13:25.
Special teams continued to play a role for the IceHogs, and they took advantage of a power play opportunity late in the second period. After the Bears were called for a bench minor for too many men at 16:53, the IceHogs regained the lead. William Pelletier slipped behind the defense on a breakaway, went to the backhand and scored on Vanecek at 17:46 to make it 2-1.
The Bears erased two separate one-goal deficits in the ensuing period and received a hard earned standings point. At 6:35, Travis Boyd scored his 15th goal of the season on the power play from the right-wing. After stretching out the penalty killers with a cross-ice feed from Joe Whitney, Boyd snapped a shot into the cage from the right face-off circle.
Only 1:10 later Rockford took at 3-2 lead. Pelletier stood in front of the goal and a shot from the wing directed off his body and into the net at 7:45.
Hershey’s resiliency erased another third period lead, and it came on the man-advantage once more. The IceHogs were called for a bench minor for too many men on the ice at 14:33. Riley Barber banged a loose puck into the net from the low-slot past a sprawling Delia at 14:53 for his 10th power play goal of the year. The goal forced a 3-on-3 sudden-death overtime period.
In the extra session, Barber was tripped up, which gave Rockford a 2-on-1 rush. John Hayden walked down the right-side and fired a shot past Vanecek to win the contest for the IceHogs at 1:46 of overtime.
Final shots on goal were 40-14 in favor of the IceHogs. The Chocolate and White finished the night 2-for-8 on the man-advantage and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. The Hershey Bears move to 23-25-4-4 and now have points in six straight. Rockford bounces back and improved to 27-23-3-3.
Hershey finishes the weekend tomorrow afternoon at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Puck drop is 3 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.