By Eric Lord
The last time the Hershey Bears took to the ice, they were swept out of the Calder Cup Finals with an overtime loss at Lake Erie. With a lot of returning players from that team, Hershey has high expectations for the 2016-17 season. Friday night, the Bears opened their season on the road at Rochester. Unfortunately for Hershey, they surrendered goals within the first five minutes of each period and lost to the Americans 5-4.

The season got off to a bad start as defenseman Aaron Ness was whistled for interference just 25 seconds into the game. Rochester made the Bears pay quickly. Cole Schneider tallied a goal 20 seconds into the power play. The season was not even a minute old and the Bears were behind 1-0.
Early in the second frame, Rochester doubled their lead. Schneider was the goal scorer once again. This time, the goal came 4:02 into the period.
Hershey answered back quickly and it was an unlikely goal scorer that netted the first goal of the season for the Bears. Defenseman Hubert Labrie put in a feed from Madison Bowey at the 6:48 mark of the second period. Labrie had two goals in 65 American Hockey League games last season. Tonight, he got one in his first game.
After Nick Baptiste scored to give the Americans a 3-1 lead, Hershey started a comeback. Brad Malone beat Rochester goalie Linus Omark to cut the deficit to a goal. As Malone was scoring his goal, forward Nathan Walker drilled into the boards by Justin Bailey. The Bears were given a five-minute power play as Bailey was given a boarding major.
Jakub Vrana tied the game on that power play. He tipped in a Chris Bourque shot from the point. The Bears could not find another goal on the major power play.
Then, Hershey’s own lack of discipline cost them in late in the second period. Tyler Lewington and Justin Falk fought, but Lewington had the original penalty for roughing. Rochester’s Cal O’Reilly put his shot past Hershey goalie Joe Cannata to give the Americans a 4-3 lead. The power play goal was scored with just 25 seconds remaining in the middle frame.
The Bears momentum was stifled and things got worse early in the third period. Justin Kea made a no look, between-the-legs pass from behind the net. Kea’s pass found Eric Cornel in front and Cornel did not miss. Rochester led 5-3.
Vrana’s second goal of the night brought the Bears within one with 11:09 remaining in the game, but Hershey could not find an equalizer.
Hershey showed good fight in battling back in the game, but have to improve their starts to period. A team cannot give up a goal early in each period and expect to win a lot of games. The Bears lost by one goal. If they do not give up an early goal in just one period, the game is tied. Games can come down to one play, one factor or a few seconds in the game. Tonight, it was the starts of periods that was the difference. Rochester started strong in each period. Hershey did not and that is why Rochester won the game 5-4.