04/08/2017 – (Toronto, Ontario- April 8, 2017)-Chandler Stephenson scored his first goal in 25 games with just 8.5 seconds left in regulation time to earn the Hershey Bears hockey team a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night at the Ricoh Coliseum. The victory was Hershey’s third straight and moved the Bears to 93 points in the chase for a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division.
Early in the second period, Hershey opened the scoring. Tom Gilbert scored his third goal of the season at 4:49 to make it 1-0. Stephenson stole the puck behind the net and fed Riley Barber in the slot. The initial shot from Barber was stopped by Marlies’ goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, but the puck fell out of his glove and popped up into the air. Gilbert batted the puck out of mid-air into the net to give Hershey the lead. Barber’s assist extended his point streak to four games.
Hershey held the lead until the 15:39 mark of the third period when Toronto scored on a scramble in front. Sergey Kalinin was credited with the goal that tied the game at one. The Marlies rushed the puck down the right wing, and a backhand shot rolled towards the goal. There was a collision at the net, and Hershey argued that netminder Pheonix Copley was interfered with, but the puck crossed the line, and after a review, the goal stood.
The game nearly got away from Hershey as Brendan Leipsic raced in on a breakaway for Toronto with under two minutes to play. Copley, who was sensational all night with 29 saves, saved his biggest stop for last, kicking out Leipsic’s shot with his left pad.
The save setup the game-winning goal for Hershey. The Bears moved into the offensive zone and Barber found the puck sitting loose behind the net. He saw Stephenson open the slot, and slid a pass to the forward. Stephenson’s shot bounced past Kaskisuo to give Hershey a 2-1 lead at 19:51. The goal was Stephenson’s first since Feb. 10, and his 10th of the season.
With the win, Hershey moved to 41-22-8-3 on the season. The Bears have 93 points and a .628 points percentage through 74 games. The win moved Hershey into the final playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, pending the result of Bridgeport’s home game versus Providence on Saturday night.
Hershey continues its playoff push with the final two games of the regular season next weekend. The Bears visit Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Friday before returning home to Giant Center on Saturday. That evening is Team Awards Night and Dietz and Watson Ham Shoot Night as Hershey ends the season by hosting Providence at 7 p.m. Ticket information is available at HersheyBears.com.