The Hershey Bears are skyrocketing up the standings. After spending most of the season at or near the bottom of the AHL’s Eastern Conference, the Bears now sit third in the Atlantic Division and are in playoff position.
On Friday night, Capitals prospect Riley Barber scored a hat trick, helping the Bears defeat their rival, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 4-2. The victory, the Bears’ tenth straight, broke an 81-year-old franchise record for consecutive games with a point.
The 16-game streak started on January 12th. The Bears have a 15-0-0-1 record during that time. The 16 games also include three victories against rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
A Riley Barber hat-trick. A comeback win, and a NEW franchise record for points in 16 straight! HOW SWEET IS THAT?!? Here are the S&T Bank Game Highlights from our thrilling win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton! #HBH pic.twitter.com/zax8so7GpS
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) February 23, 2019
Barber’s first goal opened the scoring of the game early in the second period. Mimicking the Ovi shot, Barber stood in the faceoff circle and one-timed a pass home from Aaron Ness.
After the Penguins tied the game and later took the lead, Jayson Megna knotted it back at two, 55 seconds into the third period. Barber’s second goal, a nifty shot from the front of the goal, came with three minutes left in regulation.
To seal the victory, Barber got an empty net goal from the other end of the ice.
Tonight’s hat trick is Barber’s second of his career, but his first since January 30, 2016. Entering the third period, the Bears were 0-11-0-0 when trailing after 40 minutes. The comeback win made history.
Just a month ago, the Bears’ record was under .500. Now, they are the twelfth best team in the league.
— AHL (@TheAHL) February 23, 2019
“Not a big deal!” https://t.co/D0TpbcsRVI
— Liam O'Brien (@OfficialBigTuna) February 23, 2019
More from the Bears:
Riley Barber notched a hat-trick and rallied the Hershey Bears to a thrilling 4-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. The win extended Hershey’s win streak to 10 games, and set a new franchise record with points in 16 consecutive games.
After a scoreless opening period, Barber opened the scoring for the Bears. Zach Trotman and Joseph Blandisi were penalized 30 seconds apart early in the second period, and Hershey hit pay-dirt on the man-advantage. Three seconds after the ensuing 5-on-3 turned into a 5-on-4, Barber blasted a shot underneath Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry at 2:47 for his 22nd of the season.
Later in the second period, Ryan Haggerty answered for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with a pair of goals on Vitek Vanecek. At 9:08, Haggerty avoided pressure along the right wing and walked into the high-slot. A quick release beat a screened Vanecek to even the score at 1-1. Haggerty scored his 15th of the season at 14:58 after a flubbed clearing attempt along the half-boards near the blue line. Hershey trailed 2-1 after 40 minutes 21-20 lead in shots.
Into the third period, the Chocolate and White wasted little time to draw even. Only 55 seconds into the third, Jayson Megna tied the game at 2-2 on a nifty breakaway goal. On a 2-on-1 rush, Liam O’Brien feathered a flat, head-man pass to Megna slipping behind the defense. He buried a forehand-backhand move off the bottom of the cross-bar and into the cage for his 13th goal of the season.
In the later stages of regulation, Barber lifted the Bears to a lead with late-game heroics. Forechecking in the offensive end, Barber went bar-down on Jarry after receiving a crisp feed from Mike Sgarbossa at the 16:19 mark. The Pens burned their lone timeout and benched Jarry in favor for the extra attacker in the final minute. Barber scored the hat-trick into the empty net at 19:57 to lift Hershey to a 4-2 win. It’s his second career hat-trick, and first since Jan. 30, 2016 against the Syracuse Crunch.
The Bears were 0-11-0-0 when trailing on the road after 40 minutes before tonight’s dramatic win. Hershey improved their overall record to 30-20-0-3. The Chocolate and White return to the ice tomorrow, Feb. 23 versus the Rockford IceHogs at Giant Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Ticket information is available online at HersheyBears.com.
Headline photo: Cara Bahniuk
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