Coming into the home stretch of the season and trailing the Washington Galaxy in the East, the Hershey Bliss were eager for a statement win to set up a strong run to the finish. They got that win in the form of a 7-1 shellacking of the Hamilton Pistols. The game was remarkable not only for the one-sided score, but for the fact that two Bliss players recorded hat tricks in the same game, an SHL first.
“Talk about an incredible day,” said Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber. “Two hat tricks at once? That’s like finding a vending machine that sells king-size candy bars.”
Hershey took control of the game practically from the drop of the puck, scoring four goals in the first period. Two of the goals were scored by RW Noah Daniels, while one was netted by RW Christopher Hart. Seeing Hart, a member of Hershey’s famed “Love Line,” score was no surprise. Daniels scoring twice, on the other hand, was rather remarkable. The second-line winger, who is better known for his passing skills than his shot, came into the game having scored only 8 goals on the season.
“Noah’s an unselfish, pass-first guy,” said Barber. “But he had a couple good looks, and he took advantage.”
Daniels got his hat trick two minutes into the second period, stuffing home a rebound past Pistols goalie Dennis Wampler. The handful of Bliss fans at Gunpowder Armory tossed their hats onto the ice, and even some Hamilton fans applauded. Daniels shyly waved at the crowd before skating to the bench, where he was greeted by his teammates squirting him with their water bottles.
“We don’t have a Gatorade container on the bench to dump on him, so we did the next best thing,” said Bliss C Henry Constantine.
Midway through the period, Hart scored his second goal on a slapper from the point, making it 6-0. As that point, a buzz started to rise on the Bliss bench. “The game was in the bag, so we needed something to get excited about,” said Constantine. “When Harty got his second, we started looking up and down the bench with our eyebrows raised, thinking, ‘Maybe…?'”
C Jens Bunyakin finally got the Pistols on the board with a power-play goal a minute and a half into the third. Five minutes later, Hart and linemate Justin Valentine broke out on an odd-man rush. Valentine deked a shot, then flicked a pass to Hart, who buried a shot under Wampler’s catching glove to complete his hat trick. The Bliss saluted his accomplishment by tossing their helmets on the ice.
“The fans had already thrown their hats,” said Valentine. “We didn’t want Chris to feel left out.”
Hart skated over to the bench and received the same water-bottle shower that Daniels had received. “It was really… wet,” Hart said later.
It was a great night for Hershey, and it seems to have ignited the Bliss; they haven’t lost a game since. Might that be the statement win that propels a strong stretch run? “I think it shows the kind of explosive offense we have as a team,” said Hart. “If we win this thing, this is the game that we’re going to look back on.”