HERSHEY, Pa. — After falling to the Grand Rapids Griffins 6-3 back on Oct. 12, the Hershey Bears flipped the script on Saturday as they exacted revenge with a 6-4 win at Giant Center in the two-teams’ final meeting this season.
A six-game point streak for Grand Rapids and four-game unbeaten streak on the road against Hershey (15-18-0-2) were snapped with the loss, despite Jake Chelios recording his 100th point in the American Hockey League and three third-period goals from Matthew Ford, Chris Terry and Matt Puempel.
A small break between games will give the Griffins (19-12-3-3) three days before they return to action, when they travel to Milwaukee on Wednesday to face the Admirals at 8 p.m. EST. Grand Rapids will return to Van Andel Arena the following Friday and Saturday to host the Belleville Senators.
The Bears lit the lamp three times in the first period, jumping out to an early two-goal lead. At 8:55, Hershey’s Juuso Ikonen streaked up the left side of the ice, drawing goaltender Harri Sateri towards him in the process. Near the slot, he lobbed the puck towards the right-wing circle, where Brian Pinho popped it behind Sateri for the first goal of the game.
Barely two minutes after Pinho’s goal, the Bears’ Riley Barber tacked on another to make it 2-0. Hershey forward Mike Sgarbossa won a faceoff in the Griffins’ zone and sent the puck to the left point, where teammate Aaron Ness took a shot that Barber redirected past Sateri at 11:01.
In only his second game back in the Griffins’ lineup after being assigned to the Detroit Red Wings, Wade Megan was the first Griffin to find twine. After a pass fell to the boards behind Hershey goaltender Vitek Vanecek, Puempel jumped on the puck near the left side of the net and passed it to Megan, who netted it from the top of the right-wing circle to put Grand Rapids on the board at 12:37.
Shane Gersich rebuilt Hershey’s two-goal lead with 4:46 left on the clock. From the goal line, Garrett Pilon sent the puck to Gersich in front of the Griffins’ net, who tossed it over Sateri’s right shoulder to solidify a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes.
The Bears spent eight minutes of the second period fighting a 5-on-4 disadvantage due to penalties. Even with multiple scoring opportunities, Grand Rapids finished the night 0-for-4 on the power play, despite outshooting Hershey 14-7 in the scoreless middle frame.
The Bears quickly ended the scoring drought just 1:50 into the third period with back-to-back goals. Sitting near the blue line of the Griffins’ zone, Barber passed the puck to defenseman Aaron Ness, who ripped it inside the left goal post to make it 4-1. At 7:05, Barber tallied his third point of the night when he netted a power play goal from the edge of the right-wing circle.
Ford killed the Bears’ scoring streak just 32 seconds later. Trevor Hamilton passed the puck out of Grand Rapids’ zone and Ford collected it near center ice, skating it to the front of Vanecek’s net and beating Hershey defenseman Steve Johnson. Despite losing his balance while skating around Johnson, Ford managed to tuck it past Vanecek to make it 5-2.
Around two minutes later, Hershey reached its six-goal total with a power play tally from Ryan Sproul at 9:41, forcing the Griffins’ penalty kill unit to a 1-for-3 finish on the night.
Terry tacked on a goal to cut the deficit in half at 11:49 after Chelios set him up at the right side of Vanecek’s net with a pass off the boards. Hamilton notched his second point of the night with an assist when he sent the puck to Puempel at 19:21, who fired off two consecutive shots and found twine to make the score 6-4.
Notes: Sateri made 25 saves on the night, while Vanecek made 35 for the win...The Griffins’ first meeting with the Bears this season was the home opener at Van Andel Arena on Oct. 12, when they defeated Hershey 6-3 with two goals from Filip Zadina...Ford (2011-12) and Carter Camper (2015-16) both previously played for Hershey, while Derek Hulak started this year with the Bears and scored 3 points through 8 games.
Three Stars: 1. HER Barber (two goals, two assists); 2. HER Pilon (two assists); 3. HER Ness (one goal, two assists)