The Hershey Bears’ 2016-17 season concluded on Wednesday evening with a 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins in Game 7 of the Atlantic Division Finals. The Bears went down 3-1, and nearly came back, but stout defense from the Bruins kept Hershey off the board when they needed it most.

The Bears fell behind early on when Providence’s Jordan Szwarz scored on another close in a chance from the crease area after Vitek Vanecek (who made 23 saves in the game) made two saves before the puck going in. The Bears came out slowly, being hemmed in their zone for stretches in the first period.

Hershey got a lot of clutch goals from different players, and they got one tonight on just their second shot of the game. Riley Barber found himself loose in the high slot after a setup a pass from Nathan Walker, and he fired a laser past McIntyre to tie things up at one, a score that would hold into the first intermission.

The second period was similar to Tuesday in that Providence got two big goals. Szwarz would get his second, and Wayne Simpson would add another to make it 3-1 and change the flow of the game.

Hershey shifted momentum again late in the period when McIntyre was given a delay of game penalty for catching the puck near the corner boards and freezing play. Travis Boyd and Christian Djoos combined to find Chandler Stephenson on the back door, and he would score to cut the lead to 3-2.

The Bears had a lot of momentum going into the third, just missing on a couple of big chances. Ultimately, a lot of blocked shots and passes from Providence kept the Bears from capitalizing on the opportunities they had, and Providence would add an empty net goal to end the season for the Chocolate and White.

It’s a tough ending to a season that had a lot of returning players hungry to get back to where the Bears ended last season at. The Bears ran into an extremely tough division this year, and after a long playoff run combined with being in playoff mode since nearly the All-Star break seemed to take its toll on the team at times. There will be some changes over the offseason, but the countdown is on now to the 80th anniversary season of Hershey Bears hockey.

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