On Friday and Saturday, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hershey Bears faced off in a home-and-home series. The division rivals had faced off once already this season and after this weekend still have 9 more games between them. The Bears will hope that things start turning around for them as the Penguins have taken all 3 games so far with Hershey only managing a point.
Friday night, Wilkes-Barre hosted the Bears for the first game of the weekend between the two Pennsylvania teams. It was immediately clear that these two teams were rivals when the first penalty of the game came just over 2 minutes in. Just about 6 minutes in, the first fight of the game broke out. Hershey captain and enforcer Dane Byer squared off with Wilkes-Barre captain Tom Kostopoulos.
Just past the 13 minute mark, Hershey capitalized on a two man advantage. Derek Whitmore put home his third of the season to give the Bears the lead. Later in the first period, the Penguins added a power play tally of there own. Dominik Uher tied up the game with assists to Kostopoulos and Nick Drazenovic.
The second frame did not feature anymore fights, but did feature Hershey taking the lead once again. Dane Byers made it 2-1 in favor of the Bears just past the halfway mark in the second. Coming into the third, the Bears might have thought that had it under control. The referees might have thought the same thing but neither would be accurate. The Penguins tied up the game again, this time with Kostopoulos scoring the goal and Drazenovic adding his second assist. That goal gave Kostopoulos the Gordie Howe hat trick (a goal, an assist, and a fighting major).
With about 5 minutes to go in the game, the refs had to hand out a whole bunch of penalties. Hershey’s Byers got a minor and a game misconduct for charging as well as a fighting major. Philip Samuelsson got a minor for instigating, a fighting major, and a 10 minute misconduct. Brian Gibbons also ended up with a roughing minor and the teams held on for overtime.
In an unusual twist, Hershey’s Matt Watkins was awarded a penalty shot in overtime. But Jeff Deslauriers stood tall and kept Watkins from getting his first goal of the season. The attempt came on a rare overtime power play in favor of the Penguins. As the Bears penalty was about to expire, Brendan Mikkelson won it for the Penguins.
The two teams headed to Hershey for last night’s game. Once again, the Bears would open the scoring. David Kolomatis had the first goal just over 6 minutes into the game. Then, Hershey jumped out to a 2-0 lead 2 minutes later when Jeff Taffe added a goal for Hershey. That was the only scoring of the first period, but not the only action. Wilkes-Barre’s Adam Payerl and Hershey’s Tyson Strachan squared off after the halfway mark. Then, towards the end of the first Bobby Farnham of the Penguins took on TJ Syner of the Bears. Syner was playing in his first game with Hershey this season after staying with the Reading Royals of the ECHL.
When the teams came out for the second period, there was a serious shift in favor of the Penguins. Before scoring happened, the third fight of the game broke out between Garrett Mitchell of Hershey and Scott Harrington of Wilkes-Barre. After the fight, the Penguins put 22 shots on Hershey’s David Leggio just during the second frame. Three of those shots went in. Chris Conners had his fourth of the season at 4:54. Harry Zolnierczyk and Tom Kuhnhackl each had their fifth tallies of the season at 10:00 and 19:12 respectively.
Although Hershey came out still making an effort in the final period, it was for naught. The final nail in the coffin came when Penguins center Andrew Ebbett added a short handed tally with just under two minutes remaining. The Bears pulled their goalie for the extra attacker but they fell 4-2.
Hershey will be back at it this afternoon as they host the Norfolk Admirals. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be off until Wednesday when they host the Syracuse Crunch.