HERSHEY, Pa. – Ryan Stoa scored a pair of first-period power play goals while Peter LeBlanc and Garrett Stafford set them both up, but the Hamilton Bulldogs battled back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the HERSHEY BEARS in a shootout, 3-2, on Friday night at Copps Coliseum.
Hamilton would strike first on a bouncing puck at the net front. Zack Stortini sent a shot from the right circle that was padded away by goaltender Philipp Grubauer, but the puck hopped right to Stefan Chaput who deposited a shot into a virtually empty net at 8:32.
The Bulldogs then got into penalty trouble, taking two minors that turned into BEARS goals. Stortini earned an extra minor for roughing after his scrap with defenseman Kevin Marshall. Near the end of that power play, Stoa headed to the net front to chip the rebound of LeBlanc’s shot past Bulldogs netminder Robert Mayer at 10:20.
Toward the end of the period, Stoa would cash in again. After LeBlanc deflected a shot from Stafford off of Mayer, Stoa picked up the rebound, whirled and stuffed a shot from in close off of Mayer’s stick at 19:23.
The lead held until the Bulldogs earned their third power play of the game in the third period. Grubauer made a nice sprawling save of Michael Blunden at the top of the crease, but Louis Leblanc followed up the play and deposited the game-tying goal at 6:30.
With no further scoring in regulation, the BEARS outshot Hamilton 5-3 in the overtime, but Grubauer and Mayer stood tall.
After both netminders turned aside their first two opponents, Gabriel Dumont, Stafford, Leblanc and Ryan Potulny all traded goals. Chaput scored in the fifth round, and Garrett Mitchell would lose control on his tying attempt, sending Hamilton to victory.
Mayer improves to 11-10- and made 34 saves through 65 minutes of play, adding three shootout saves. Grubauer drops to 4-3-1 with 26 saves in regulation and overtime.
The BEARS remain unbeaten in February (3-0-1-2) and have points in seven consecutive games (3-0-1-3).
The BEARS road swing continues tomorrow, February 16 with a 3:00 PM faceoff against the Toronto Marlies from Ricoh Coliseum. The team returns home on Saturday, February 23 for a 7:00 PM matchup against the Adirondack Phantoms. “Chocolate-Covered February” continues, and all fans will receive candy upon exit courtesy of the HERSHEY Company.
Tickets are available at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR or online at TicketMaster.com.