Caleb Herbert made a spectacular pro debut for the Wednesday night at Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine.
The forward, who joined the Bears last week on an amateur tryout contract after finishing his season at Minnesota-Duluth, scored a goal and added an assist in a 3-2 victory over the Portland Pirates that moved Hershey into eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Herbert's assist, his first pro point, came on a Jeff Taffe goal in the first period and his goal, which came 21 seconds into the second, tied the contest 2-2.
Like Cody Eakin on March 31, 2010, at Syracuse, Herbert scored on his first pro shot for Hershey. Eakin now plays for the Dallas Stars.
Kris Newbury's first goal as a Bear at 8:43 of the second was the game-winner.
The Bears (78 points) moved one point ahead of idle Norfolk (77) to take over the conference's final playoff spot. Hershey, which has won three in a row, also moved within three points of seventh-place Providence (81).
The line of Herbert (1-1-2), Taffe (1-1-2) and Dustin Gazley (0-1-1) combined for five points. Bears goalie David Leggio (27 saves) won his third straight start and fifth in the last six to improve to 21-17-3.
Tobias Rieder and Andy Miele, who each have scored 27 goals, scored first-period goals for Portland.
Former Pirates forward Chris Brown, reassigned by the Washington Capitals, made it to Androscoggin Bank Colisee and played his first Hershey game since March 16.
Patrick Wellar played his 300th AHL game.
Peter LeBlanc was sidelined by illness.
With his 19th goal, Taffe passed his Hershey goal total for last season (18).
The Capitals signed 2013 second-round draft pick (53rd overall) to a three-year, entry-level contract beginning in 2014-15. The defenseman produced 21-39-60 in 72 regular-season games this season for Kelowna, which has advanced to the second round of the WHL playoffs. He looms as a potential junior eligible addition for Hershey when his junior season ends.
Garrett Mitchell and Joel Rechlicz served as guest speakers at Tuesday night's Hershey Jr. Bears team banquet at the Hershey Lodge.
Former Bears winger John Mitchell, traded to the Phoenix Coyotes organization in March, didn't play for Portland due to an injury.
Hershey 1 2 0 - 3
Portland 2 0 0 - 2
1st Period-1, Portland, Rieder 27 (Martinook, Klassen), 5:05. 2, Hershey, Taffe 19 (Herbert, Oleksy), 5:32. 3, Portland, Miele 27 (Martinook), 15:02. Penalties-Newbury Her (slashing), 12:05.
2nd Period-4, Hershey, Herbert 1 (Taffe, Gazley), 0:21. 5, Hershey, Newbury 15 (Watkins, Oleksy), 8:43. Penalties-Wellar Her (fighting), 14:59; Dziurzynski Por (fighting), 14:59; Todd Por (tripping), 18:31; served by Stoa Her (bench minor - too many men), 19:52.
3rd Period- No Scoring.Penalties-Watkins Her (boarding), 17:37.
Shots on Goal-Hershey 10-9-6-25. Portland 9-8-12-29.
Power Play Opportunities-Hershey 0 / 1; Portland 0 / 3.
Goalies-Hershey, Leggio 21-17-3 (29 shots-27 saves). Portland, Domingue 9-13-2 (25 shots-22 saves).
Referees-Ryan Hersey (8), Geno Binda (22).
Linesmen-Jeremy Lovett (78), Pat Turcotte (10).
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