If Hershey Bears head coach Mike Haviland wondered how his team would respond to his pointed post-game comments in the wake of Friday night's loss to the Syracuse Crunch, he got a resoundingly positive answer Saturday night.
In a strong bounce-back effort, the Bears defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 2-1 in a shootout at Giant Center.David KolomatisHershey Bears Photo
I'm not veering off of what I'm saying, Haviland said. I'm not. They need to get on board with us. And they will and they are. You just see it in glimpses.
Tonight you saw it for 65 minutes. That's the way we're supposed to play. Now they know we have a template of how we're supposed to play. We're going to continue to demand that.
Down 1-0 on a goal by former Bears forward Mike Carman, the Bears rallied to tie with a goal from David Kolomatis and won the shootout 2-1, with the decisive tally coming from Ryan Potulny, playing his second game since re-signing with the club on Sunday.
Kolomatis and Potulny gave Haviland's oratorical kick in the pants positive reviews.
Said Kolomatis: You've got to expect it of yourselves. We're all big boys here. You should come into these games and you should expect that much. He shouldn't have to be so critical on us, but that's his job. At the end of the day, you're grown men playing a sport and you should expect it of yourselves.
Said Potulny: This is our job. We're here to play hockey and win games and keep each other accountable. I've got no problem with coach coming in and getting on guys a little bit. It's his job, and it's our job to respond. I liked it.
In contrast to a Hershey power play that has been struggling, the penalty kill has been performing at a high level. The Bears went 5-for-5 against WBS and have killed 10 straight opposition power plays.
I thought our penalty kill was outstanding tonight, Haviland said. That was the big key for me. We had some timely kills in that second period where it could have went to maybe 2-0.
When you're on the same page and you have good pressure and the pressure points are at the right time, then you get success. And you need big saves on the PK as your best PKer.
The Bears got those saves from goalie David Leggio, who finished with 30 saves and stopped four of five attempts in the shootout.
With the triumph, fourth-place Hershey (13-12-2-3, 31 points) climbed back out of the East Division basement past fifth-place Syracuse (13-13-1-3, 30 points).
The 2013-14 Bears also avoided becoming the first Hershey club to end a calendar year under .500 since the affiliation with the Washington Capitals began in 2005-06. The last time that happened was in 2004-05 (16-17-1-0) in the final season of an affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche.
You go in all different directions as a coach, Haviland said. Sometimes you're really, really hard on them. Sometimes you've got to put your arm around them. You've got to know when to push, when to pull, when to let go. You're dealing with all different personalities and you're managing the personalities in that room.
Last night was an easy one for me. It was no good. It was nowhere near the standard we need to play and will accept here. So tonight was a response. I just told them we go forward from here. And I'm not letting up on them, though. I'm not. We have no time to let up now. We're in game 30 here.
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