HERSHEY, Pa. – Ryan Potulny scored two goals but Joonas Nattinen’s second-period tally gave the Hamilton Bulldogs their first lead of the game, and the visitors held it to the final horn in defeating the HERSHEY BEARS by a 3-2 score on Saturday night at GIANT Center.
The BEARS took a 1-0 lead on their first power play chance of the game. Tomas Kundratek fed a pass to Jeff Taffe in the right circle, who in turn slid a perfect feed to Potulny on the goal line. Potulny pulled the puck from backhand to forehand and while being hit, flipped a shot past Hamilton goaltender Cedrick Desjardins at 5:48. The goal snapped a streak of 19 unsuccessful power plays.
Hamilton evened the score early in the second period, as they too earned their first power play of the game when Even Barlow was whistled for goaltender interference. With BEARS netminder Braden Holtby attempting a low poke with his goal stick, Mike Blunden lifted a shot high into the net from a sharp angle at 1:57.
Potulny netted his second at 3:32 of the second period on a nice play by Steve Oleksy. The defenseman took a pass from Taffe, then faked a slap shot that drew Desjardins down. Oleksy fed Potulny in the left circle for an easy shot into the vacated net, giving the BEARS a 2-1 lead.
But the Bulldogs drew even at the 7:02 mark. A point shot from Brendon Nash hit traffic in front of the net and deflected right to Patrick Holland, who slid a shot into the net before Holtby could recover.
Hamilton took their lead with 2:24 left in the second period by winning a battle at the net front. Nathan Beaulieu took a slap shot from the center point that Holtby stopped, but Nattinen fought for the rebound and beat Holtby low along the ice.
Desjardins then stopped all eight shots that HERSHEY sent his way in the third to preserve the victory. He improves to 4-2-0 with 21 saves on 23 shots. Holtby drops to 8-8-0 on the season, making 19 saves on 22 shots.
The BEARS ended the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill.
The BEARS will take a trip to Newfoundland to battle the St. John’s IceCaps for two nights next week. The teams will meet up on Tuesday, December 11 and on Wednesday, December 12, with faceoff set for 6:00 PM.
The team returns home to take on the Worcester Sharks on Saturday, December 15 at 7:00 PM. 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.