Bears Win in Springfield

The Hershey Bears travelled to Massachusetts and defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds 2-1 on the eve of Thanksgiving. Hershey entered this game in 7th place with a (9-4-2) record while the Thunderbirds were (7-6-3) sitting at 17th in league standings. Connor McMichael made his second start for the Bears first line after a year and a half stint in D.C. with the Capitals. McMichael’s first start this season came Sunday night on the Bears first line against Hartford, a game in which Hershey lost 4-2.

When the buzzer sounded at the end of the first period the score at the MassMutual Center was tied 0-0. Defense was definitely the name of the game, Hershey had 8 shots on goal and The birds trailed closely with 7. The goalies were the real heroes in the opening period, both Hunter Shepard for the Bears and Joel Hofer for the Birds made some outstanding saves keeping their teams in this game. Shepard entered the night with a save percentage of 0.930, a goals against average of 1.960, and 3 wins on the season.

Period two started exactly the way the first ended with Shepard and Hofer being the stars of the show. It wasn’t until about seventeen minutes in that the scoreboard lit up for the first time of the night. Springfield’s Martin Frk drove home the first goal of the night assisted by Matthew Highmore, giving the Birds a 1-0 lead. Connor McMichael and the Bears immediately responded to Frk’s slapper with a beautiful top corner goal assisted by Henrik Borgstrom and Henrik Rybinski, which tied the game 1-1. The final ticks came off the clock and the buzzer sounded sending both teams to their dressing rooms to prepare for the final period of this extremely defensive game. McMichaels had only played in 8 games this season, 6 with the Washington Capitals and 2 so far with Hershey. Connor’s goal tonight was his first of the season but hopefully not his last. McMichael had 9 goals, 9 assists and 18 points respectfully last season with the Capitals.

Springfield immediately started the final period off with an abusive attack on the Bears with 3 shots on goal in the first 2 minutes of play. Shepard stood strong and absorbed everything that came his way. The Bears goalie made a HUGE save by almost literally standing on his head, robbing Springfield’s Greg Printz of a sure thing. Half way through the period the score remained tied 1-1, not for a lack of trying by either team. Hershey’s Mason Morelli scored a beautiful unassisted breakaway 5 hole goal on Hofer giving the Bears the lead, 2-1 with 12:42 left in the third. The Bears would go on to keep the lead and clinch the victory over Springfield, this makes the Bears 10th win so far.

Penalties were once again a problem for the Bears in this game, giving the Birds 5 powerplay chances and racking up 10 minutes of penalties. The Bears finished the night with 25 shots on goal compared to the Thunderbirds 27. Hershey will have a Thanksgiving break before heading to Hartford to face the Wolf Pack on Friday the 25th at 7:00pm E/T. Fans can catch the Bears on the AHL TV app or by listening to Fox Sports Radio 1460 in Harrisburg.

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I was born and raised in the small town of Fort Defiance, VA ( about 45 mins west of Charlottesville). Football was always a main priority of mine and from the time I could play, I did. After graduating high school in 2010 and choosing not to chase college ball, I found myself working in local factories and warehouses around my town. I have since moved to Lynchburg, VA where I have settled down, gotten married, had a beautiful little girl and have another one on the way. Ice Hockey has also become a huge part of my life. In 2015 my brother returned from a year long tour in Afghanistan bringing along with him a new found interest in Hockey, which he later introduced to me. The minute I walked in to Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. I was hooked. The speed of the game, the passion of the warriors competing on the ice, and the physicality yet gracefulness of the 250lb hulks gliding around on razor sharp knife shoes. Sports are my way of leaving reality for a while and (even if its in my own head) getting to be part of a team again!

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