Riley Barber scored late in the first period to tie the game in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Saturday night, but his goal wasn’t enough as the Bears fell 4-1 courtesy of two late empty net goals for the Penguins.
Tom Kostopoulos put the Penguins up on a Power Play goal 69 seconds before Barber tied it at 1-1, but Dustin Jeffrey scored the next two goals to give the Penguins a victory on their home ice. Jeffrey’s second and Tom Sestito’s goal were both empty netters. Sestito’s came just 6 seconds before the final horn, and was not highly regarded by the Bears, leading to a misconduct penalty on Chris Bourque. That was the 19th penalty of the game.
Dan Ellis stopped 21 of 23 shots in the loss for Hershey. The loss brought the Penguins within .008% of Hershey for first place in the Atlantic Division and set up a crucial rematch Sunday night at Giant Center.
Unfortunately for Hershey, Sunday’s game, which ended in overtime, had the same result. Just like Saturday’s game, the Penguins got on the board first 1:51 into the game, but once again the Bears responded. This time it was Madison Bowey who scored his fourth of the season. Nathan Walker skated into the zone on the right side and found Bowey down the middle for the goal.
Sean Collins gave the Bears their first lead of the night a few minutes later on the Power Play. Christian Djoos fired a shot on net, and Collins redirected it into the net. The Bears took the 2-1 lead into the locker room.
In the second, Jeffrey got his third goal of the weekend to open the scoring in the second period before Jakub Vrana gave the Bears the lead again.
Following a series of penalties, Travis Boyd fired a shot on the Hershey Power Play. Tristian Jarry, who stopped several quality Hershey chances, couldn’t contain the shot, and Vrana tipped it in for the 3-2 lead.
Wilkes-Barre wouldn’t go away though. While on the Penalty Kill, Krause scored his first goal of the year in dramatic style to tie the game at 3-3 at 18:26, and the score held for the remainder of the period.
In the third, the Bears looked to have the game locked up after back-to-back goals from Ryan Stanton and former Penguin, Zach Sill.
But Wilkes-Barre scored the next three goals with the final one coming in the overtime period, to secure the win and a tie for the Atlantic Division lead with 81 points a piece.
Justin Peters stopped 25 of 31 shots in the loss for Hershey.
Sunday’s game marked the return of captain, Garrett Mitchell to the lineup. Mitchell was assessed a three-game suspension by the league for a cross-check to the head in Hershey’s previous trip to Wilkes-Barre. No penalty was called on the play.
On the weekend, the Bears were 2 of 12 on the Power Play and were 9 for 10 on the Penalty Kill.
They will travel to Lehigh Valley Wednesday and to Utica on Saturday before returning home to Giant Center to host Albany Sunday. The first 5000 fans through the doors of Giant Center Sunday will receive a Doug Yingst bobblehead. Early in the season, Yingst, Hershey’s GM, announced that he will retire after this season.
The Bears have 12 games remaining on their regular season schedule. Their magic number is now 16 courtesy of the one point they earned in Sunday’s overtime loss to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Even though the two teams have the same points, WBS is currently the 1 seed in the Atlantic and Hershey is the 2 seed. The two teams have three remaining games on their schedule with two of them in Hershey and one in Wilkes-Barre.
Washington and South Carolina have extended their affiliation through the 2017-2018 season. Hershey’s agreement with Washington is up at the end of the current season. South Carolina has Washington’s 2014 2nd round draft pick Vitek Vanecek on their current roster. They are currently in first place in the South Division, and are second in the Eastern Conference.
Weekly Prospect and Two-Way Contract Players Report
Dan Ellis – 0-1 – 21 saves on 23 shots
Justin Peters – 0-1 (OTL) – 25 saves on 31 shots
*Paul Carey – had season-ending shoulder surgery
* Dan Ellis – Mann said Sunday night that Ellis was unavailable for Sunday’s game, but was the back-up. No further information has been given as to the injury to Ellis at this time.
Weekly Stars Report (opponent)
2. Bowey (Sunday)
Bears in the Top 20
Bourque – 1st in points (68), T-3rd in goals (26), 2nd in assists (42), T-2nd in PP Assists (19), T-16th PP Goals (8), T-2nd Insurance Goals (6), T-3rd in OT goals (2), T-6th in shots (172), T-2nd First Goals (6)
Boyd – 8th in Rookie scoring (45 points)
Barber – T-13th in goals (22), T-6th Insurance Goals (4), 6th in Rookie scoring (47 points)
Djoos – T-8th Shootout % (.667)
Bowey – T-16th +/- (+20)
Ellis – T-6th GAA (2.34), T-7th in wins (22), T-9th in shutouts (3), 13th in minutes (2054)
Peters – T-7th SOW (2)
Both Burgdoerfer and Gazley are AHL-only contract players.
By Julie Beidler