JustSports Photography/Hershey Bears
After facing off against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Wilkes-Barre on Friday night, the Hershey Bears hosted a rematch in their only home game of the preseason at Giant Center in Hershey on Saturday night, rallying from a 1-0 deficit to force overtime, and win the game 2-1 in overtime in a game that featured the Hershey Bears debut of Washington Capitals’ 2018 first-round draft pick Alexander Alexeyev. After dropping the previous tilt against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Bears looked to get their first win of the exhibition season in a that game was set to be an interesting one with several important players ready to make their way into the lineup for the first time in addition to Alexeyev, including offseason additions Matt Moulson and Philippe Maillet, and hometown players Dillan Fox and Casey Bailey. Hershey started Parker Milner in net, while the Penguins countered with Alex D’Orio. With an attendance near 4,000 for a preseason game, the crowd was energized.
The first period saw little action in terms of offense, with neither team finding the twine. A number of penalties on the Bears gave the Penguins some ample power play chances, but effective killing from the Chocalate and White kept the game scoreless. Midway through the first period a bad hit from the Penguins sent Kristofers Bindulis crashing into the boards, which caused Kale Kessy to step in, in defense of his teammate. After the scrum had ended, the Bears found themselves on the penalty kill again, with Kessy managing to rack up 17 total penalty minutes from it all.
The second period had a similar feel to the first, with both teams playing a lot of back-and-forth hockey. Both teams received power play opportunities, but neither were able to capitalize. As the pace of play began to pick up, more scoring opportunities began to present themselves for both the Bears and Baby Pens; Hershey had a few good chances to take the lead but were unable to capitalize. With 10 seconds left in the period, Penguins forward Kasper Björkqvist managed to get the puck on goal and sneak one past Parker Milner to give the Penguins the first lead of the game and the game’s first tally.
Heading into the third frame, the Bears had played five consecutive periods of preseason hockey without scoring a goal. Trailing the Penguins heading into the final period of the game for the second night in a row, the Bears finally got a break. Midway through the final frame, veteran offseason signing Moulson notched his first goal in a Hershey sweater; posting himself low in the slot, Moulson was able to get a deflection on net past D’Orio, with assists credited to Joe Snivley and Alexeyev. After some more back-and-forth play from each team, and strong play in net by the goaltenders, the game heading to overtime.
Early in the extra frame, the Penguins found themselves on a 2-0 breakaway. Despite bearing down on Milner, they misplayed a pass, ending in a missed opportunity to end the contest. Approaching the end of the 3-on-3 overtime, the Bears found themselves on a breakaway of their own, as a strong burst of speed sent Axel Jonsson-Fjallby 1-on-1 with D’Orio. Unlike the Penguins, Jonsson-Fjallby managed to seal the game and put the puck past D’Orio to complete the comeback for the Bears.
A strong showing from the entire team played a role in the Bears securing their first victory of the preseason, along with a very successful penalty killing unit that managed to keep the bears alive throughout the entire game. Parker Milner was also strong in net, stopping 28 of 29 shots on the night. The Bears will play their final preseason game of the year on September 30 against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, before opening the regular season at home on October 5.
By Zac Herr