Bears 5, Phantoms 2 3/17
The Adirondack Phantoms, however, have made Grubauer look like a Hall of Fame candidate.
The Washington Capitals prospect recorded his second strong showing against Adirondack in the past three weeks as the Bears handed the Phantoms a 5-2 loss Sunday afternoon at Giant Center.
Grubauer, a 21-year-old rookie from Germany, made 36 saves in the win, which came just 22 days after he made 40 saves the last time Adirondack visited Hershey, a 3-0 Bears victory on Feb. 22.
The Phantoms grossly outshot Hershey in both games, but could not convert their chances.
The Bears, meanwhile, had two shots on goal in the first 13 minutes of Sunday’s third period and scored on both of them, providing more than enough insurance for the 3-0 lead they had built.
Adirondack, however, had more than enough opportunities to take an early lead.
The Phantoms were idle Saturday, while the Bears ground out a 1-0 overtime win over Bridgeport.
The first few 15 or so minutes, then, went as one might expect. The Phantoms took 12 of the game’s first 13 shots, but Grubauer stopped them all and Hershey called a time-out to regroup.
From there, it was all Hershey.
The Bears outshot the Phantoms 19-9 between then and second intermission, scoring three goals.
First, Peter LeBlanc banged a loose puck past goalie Brian Boucher at 19:14 of the first period.
In the second period, Boyd Kane stole a puck away from Phantoms defenseman Erik Gustafsson below the goal line and centered to Ryan Potulny, who one-timed the puck past Boucher at 3:24.
Then, 68 seconds later, center Jeff Taffe converted Casey Wellman’s pass for a power-play goal.
The teams traded goals in the third period, during which the Phantoms outshot the Bears 17-4.
Wellman and Taffe reversed their roles in the final frame, as Taffe set up a Wellman drive that deflected off defenseman Andreas Lilja’s foot for another power-play goal to put Hershey up 4-0.
But Phantoms rookie Marcel Noebels, a fellow German, finally solved Grubauer just 20 seconds later at 4:26.
After the Phantoms could not convert on a power-play, Dmitry Orlov came out of the penalty box and set up Taffe on a two-on-rush rush, which gave the Bears a 5-1 lead at 12:49. Taffe finished with two goals and two assists.
Garrett Roe narrowly beat Grubauer on a one-timer to close out the scoring with just 1:55 to play.
Against Adirondack, Grubauer is 2-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .974 save percentage.
Had he earned the shutout, he would have become the first Hershey goaltender in the franchise’s 75-year AHL history to record a clean sheet on back-to-back nights.
Still, he concluded Sunday with a 1.93 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. Those would rank first and second, respectively, among AHL goalies, had Grubauer spent enough time in the league.
He helped Hershey improve to 30-24-3-5, while Adirondack fell to 24-32-2-3.