By Brian Ring
Hartford, CT, November 29, 2011 – The Connecticut Whale defeated the Hershey Bears, 4-2, Tuesday night at the XL Center in Hartford. Pavel Valentenko recorded the game-winning goal, Jordan Owens had two assists and Chad Johnson made 26 saves to earn the win in net.
The Whale once again rallied from a first period deficit, erasing a 1-0 Hershey lead in the first period, while winning the game late in regulation after giving up a third-period equalizer.
“It was tough to give up the game-tying goal,” said Whale head coach Ken Gernander. “But they stuck with it and got the win.”
The Bears and the Whale traded first period goals, with Chris Bourque capitalizing on Hershey’s league-leading power-play at 12:03 of the opening frame. Keith Aucoin took over sole possession of the AHL scoring lead with an assist on the goal, on a night that he would register points number 29 and 30.
Mats Zuccarello responded for Connecticut, tying the game for the Whale just under two minutes later with his fourth goal of the campaign. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Blake Parlett both assisted on the tally. Audy-Marchessault entered the Bears’ zone with Zuccarello, passing to the Norwegian forward for a two-on-one goal.
The Whale took a 2-1 lead at 14:20 of the second period, when Aaron Voros ripped a shot from the slot over the glove of Bears goaltender Braden Holtby (19 saves) for Voros’ first goal of the season.
Connecticut carried their lead deep into the third period, but immediately following a successful penalty-kill the Whale allowed the game-tying score at 10:49. Graham Mink scored off of a bounce off a Whale defenders’ skate from an Aucoin shot. Chris Bourque picked up his second point of the night with the secondary assist on the goal.
Pavel Valentenko got the lead right back for the Whale, scoring on a slap shot from the left point at 15:56, his second goal of the season and second in as many games. Jordan Owens assisted on the score, the eventual game-winner.
“It was a great pass,” said Valentenko. “It was just my job to hit the net.”
The Whale iced the win with an empty-net goal from Chris McKelvie, his first goal of the season, with 1:16 left in the final period. Owens recorded his second assist of the night on the play, with Kelsey Tessier also earning a helper.
“Like we’ve shown all year, we came out on top and battled to the end,” said Johnson. “It was a good game.”
Connecticut will look to extend their winning streak to three straight games on Friday night in Providence, when they take on the Bruins (7:05). The Whale will meet the Springfield Falcons in Springfield on Saturday (7:00), before hosting the defending Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators Sunday afternoon at the XL Center (3:00).
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Hershey Bears 2 at Connecticut Whale 4
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 – XL Center Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Hershey 1 0 1 – 2
Connecticut 1 1 2 – 4
1st Period-1, Hershey, Bourque 11 (Micflikier, Aucoin), 12:03 (PP). 2, Connecticut, Zuccarello 4 (Audy-Marchessault, Parlett), 14:01. Penalties-Redden Ct (delay of game), 9:59; Thuresson Ct (double minor – high-sticking), 10:32; Richmond Her (interference, roughing), 13:44; McKelvie Ct (roughing), 13:44.
2nd Period-3, Connecticut, Voros 1 14:20. Penalties-No Penalties
3rd Period-4, Hershey, Mink 7 (Aucoin, Bourque), 10:49. 5, Connecticut, Valentenko 2 (Owens), 15:56. 6, Connecticut, McKelvie 1 (Owens, Tessier), 18:44 (EN). Penalties-Flemming Her (roughing), 8:44; Tanski Ct (goaltender interference, roughing), 8:44; Mink Her (high-sticking), 13:04.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 11-7-10-28. Connecticut 7-6-10-23.