The Hershey Bears were coming into Saturday night’s game against the Binghamton Senators looking for their fourth straight win with a chance to stay the top dogs in the Eastern Division going into the All-Star break, and the win couldn’t have come in a more fitting way.
After three chippy periods of play, where the Bears controlled the puck for the majority of the game, the teams were tied at two. Both goalies were able to make key saves and the penalty kills for both teams came up huge when they needed it.
This was the second straight overtime game between the two teams, but the Bears were just a bit better in this one and were able to pull it out 3-2.
The Bears took the opening faceoff and controlled the pace of play for the majority of the first period. They had a flurry of chances including a power play halfway through the period, but they weren’t able to break through and eventually were playing from behind.
Just shortly after killing the penalty Binghamton had their first chance. The puck dribbled out from behind the Hershey net right to Buddy Robinson, who was able deke his way around Bears’ goalie Peter Grabauer and slide it passed for the opening goal.
Hershey thought they scored the equalizer when the puck trickled behind Peter Mannino but the play was blown dead, much to the chagrin of the Bears faithful.
Not to worry, the Bears were able to get that goal back and a bit more in the second period.
Chris Conner got the Bears on the board after a sloppy start to the second for both teams. Tim Kennedy found Conner in the slot and he did the rest. He blew past a defender and fired a shot, which went between Mannino’s legs and in the back of the net for the equalizer.
After a series of fights, the Bears ended up with their second power play of the game and they wouldn’t spoil this chance against one of the worst penalty kills in the league.
A dizzying sequence of tic-tac-toe passes put the puck on Jim O’Brien’s stick and he didn’t miss, shooting from point blank range to give the Bears their first lead of the game.
The lead, however, was short-lived as the Senators flew down the ice less than a minute later to knot the game up at two.
Both teams had quality chances on the power play in the third to get the winner but neither was able to cash in as Mannino (33 saves) and Grabauer (25 saves) were up to the task.
Overtime was quick.
The Senators had a few chances at the beginning of the period but the Bears were able to break out of their own end.
Carrick peppered a shot on goal and it ricocheted off of a Binghamton player and in the net.
The Bears go into the All-Star break with 51 points (23-13-4-1) and will be back at home this Saturday, Jan. 31, to take on the Syracuse Crush at 7 p.m.