Four goals in the first period and a flurry late in the third helped Hershey edge the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers by the score of 6-5 at Giant Center on Saturday night.
Chris Bourque tallied a hat trick and added an assist for the Bears, who extended their winning streak to seven games and jump over Norfolk to take over the top spot in the East and the overall league lead.
Bridgeport took a 5-4 lead with 3:22 left on James Sixsmith‘s second goal of the game, but Bourque capped his hat trick nine seconds later and Quintin Laing put Hershey back in front 22 seconds after that.
The loss keeps Bridgeport two points out of the final playoff spot in the East heading into Sunday’s showdown with fourth-place Albany.
ALBANY 5, NORFOLK 3
Albany kept its drive towards the playoffs alive with a 5-3 win over the Norfolk Admirals at the Times Union Center.
Tyler Weiman stopped 36 of 37 shots on the night to improve his mark to 24-18-3.
Jack Skille recorded two goals in a losing effort for the Admirals. Skille now has five points (3g, 2a) and has scored in three of his first four professional games out of the University of Wisconsin.
HAMILTON 7, ROCHESTER 4
Jonathan Ferland had two goals and an assist as the Hamilton Bulldogs defeated the Rochester Americans, 7-4, at Copps Coliseum.
Eric Manlow, Mikhail Grabovski and Kyle Chipchura all registered a goal and an assist and the Bulldogs went 3-for-7 on the power play. Chipchura got his mark on a penalty shot awarded midway through the second period.
Yann Danis made 14 saves on the night to earn his second-straight win and 21st of the year.
Mark Mancari recorded three assists in the loss.
HARTFORD 5, MANCHESTER 4
The Hartford Wolf Pack held off a third-period rally to edge the visiting Manchester Monarchs by a score of 5-4 and move closer to the top spot in the Atlantic.
In a battle of first versus second place in the division, Hartford jumped out to 5-1 lead at the end of the second frame with help from Dane Byers, who scored three goals in that period to put the Wolf Pack in command.
Al Montoya stopped 24 shots to earn his third straight win and improve his record to 24-15-0 on the year.
Four different players scored for Manchester and Marty Murray recorded three assists.
GRAND RAPIDS 2, CHICAGO 1 (OT)
Kip Miller tallied with 54 seconds to play in overtime to give Grand Rapids a 2-1 win over the visiting Chicago Wolves.
Jimmy Howard ended a four-game losing skid by stopping 38 of 39 shots for the Griffins.
Defenseman Mark Popovic scored the lone goal for Chicago, which despite the loss clinched a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
PHILADELPHIA 5, BINGHAMTON 1
The Philadelphia Phantoms ended a four-game slide by routing the Binghamton Senators by the score of 5-1 at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Martin Houle stopped 30 of 31 shots to earn his 11th win of the year for Philadelphia.
Defenseman Charlie Cook netted the only goal in a losing effort for Binghamton.
MANITOBA 3, OMAHA 2
The Manitoba Moose scored two of their three goals on the power play to edge the Ak-Sar-Ben Knights 3-2 at Omaha.
With the win, Manitoba clinches a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Drew MacIntyre stopped 23 of 25 shots to improve his mark to 22-10-2 on the year.
Dustin Boyd led the Knights with a goal and an assist in the loss, which keeps Omaha two points behind Chicago for first place in the West Division.
SAN ANTONIO 6, PEORIA 3
For the second straight night Peoria lost by a score of 6-3 and for the second straight night it was in the state of Texas, as the Rivermen were dropped by the San Antonio Rampage at the AT&T Center.
Josh Tordjman made 31 saves on 34 shots to backstop the Rampage to victory.
Trent Whitfield scored a pair of goals in the loss for the Rivermen.
LOWELL 4, PROVIDENCE 3
The Lowell Devils scored four of the game’s last five goals to edge the visiting Providence Bruins by a score of 4-3 at the Tsongas Arena.
T.J. Trevelyan led Providence with a pair of goals in the loss.
PORTLAND 5, SPRINGFIELD 1
Joe Motzko scored two goals and Drew Miller had a goal and two assists as the Portland Pirates defeated the Springfield Falcons at the MassMutual Center by a score of 5-1.
Former Falcons goalie Gerald Coleman stopped 37 of 38 shots to earn the win and even his record to 3-3-0 with Portland, which has now won four straight games.
Defenseman Justin Fletcher scored the lone goal for Springfield.
TORONTO 2, SYRACUSE 1 (SO)
Erik Westrum scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Toronto Marlies a 2-1 win over the Syracuse Crunch at the Onondaga County War Memorial at Oncenter.
Jean-Francois Racine made 43 saves on 44 shots and stopped all five Syracuse players in the shootout to give the Marlies their fourth win in their last five contests.
Brad Leeb scored the only goal in regulation for Toronto.
IOWA 6, MILWAUKEE 2
Francis Wathier scored two goals and Shane Endicott recorded three assists as the Iowa Stars downed the Milwaukee Admirals by the score of 6-2 at the Bradley Center.
Tobias Stephan earned his 10th win of the year and first since Jan. 26 by stopping 35 of 37 shots for the Stars.
John Laliberte scored both goals for Milwaukee in a losing effort.
WORCESTER 7, HOUSTON 3
Mike Iggulden netted a hat trick as the Worcester Sharks won their seventh consecutive game, a 7-3 decision over Houston at the Toyota Center.
Thomas Greiss also extended his winning streak to seven games by stopping 25 of 28 shots to earn his 23rd win of the year.