WASHINGTON, D.C. – Evan Barlow and Ryan Potulny scored to help the HERSHEY BEARS erase an early deficit and defeat the Norfolk Admirals by a 2-1 final score on Thursday night, in the Washington AHL Showcase at Verizon Center.
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Just 10 seconds into the contest, Norfolk’s Brandon McMillan collected a cross-ice pass from Sami Vatanen, skated toward the top of the left circle and sent a wrist shot over the glove of BEARS goaltender Braden Holtby to give the Admirals a 1-0 lead.
Each team traded power play opportunites after the goal, but both penalty killing units came up big.
The BEARS tied the score thanks to hard work by Jon DiSalvatore in front of the Norfolk bench. Playing in his 700th AHL game, DiSalvatore dug the puck out of a pile to spring Zach Hamill into the Admirals zone. Hamill drew two players toward him and then slipped a pass into the slot for Barlow. The BEARS winger sent a perfectly-placed snap shot over the glove of Norfolk netminder Frederik Andersen at 13:54.
BEARS winger Alex Berry and Admirals forward John Kurtz dropped the gloves on the ensuing faceoff, energizing the sellout crowd of 18,506.
The two teams played through a scoreless second period, in which the Admirals outshot the BEARS by an 11-7 margin.
Early in the third, the BEARS took the lead for good on a nice passing play begun by Jeff Taffe. The BEARS winger fed defenseman Steve Oleksy in the slot, who in turn passed toward the bottom of the right circle. The pass was set up perfectly for Potulny to one-time a hard shot past Andersen at 4:26.
Holtby did the rest, as roughly half of the Norfolk shots came in the final minutes of the third period. His best save came with 4.4 seconds left, when he stopped Peter Holland from point-blank range.
Holtby improved to 8-7-0 with the win, stopping 26 shots. Andersen played well with 28 saves on 30 shots, but saw his record drop to 6-6-0. The BEARS killed off all six Norfolk power plays, while the Admirals stopped all eight chances by HERSHEY.
HERSHEY will head north for a 7:05 PM faceoff tomorrow, December 7 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The BEARS will then return home on Saturday, December 8 for a 7:00 PM matchup against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Tickets for this game and all HERSHEY BEARS home games are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.