It was a grand setting at Hersheypark Stadium on Sunday evening. Starting with a flurry of fireworks as the sun set on Central Pennsylvania, the Bears took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL Outdoor Classic. Despite the freezing cold, 17,311 packed the old stadium to see one of the league’s greatest rivalries get taken to another level. Frankly, I wish I had gotten my butt up there. Unfortunately for the Bears, though, it didn’t end in a victory.
The game got off to a slow start in the first period, with neither team managing much of an edge. The pace picked up in the second when the Baby Pens received a power play 51 seconds in after Cam Schilling got called for boarding Brian Gibbons after he went hard into the end wall. Steve Oleksy and Dominik Uher then got into a big scrap at center ice a quarter of the way through the frame, fighting to a draw.
Tomas Kundratek would put the first point on the board about 10 minutes later, tallying a goal from the slot that put the Bears up with 4:20 left in the period. Hershey got their first power play just 42 seconds later when Brian Famham was called for goalie inference, but they failed to capitalize. After two, the Bears led 22-16 in shots on goal.
Kundratek’s tally held up until 7:47 into the final period, when Riley Holzapfel fired a slapper past Hershey goalie Dany Sabourin — who had 18 saves on 20 shots in the loss — to tie the game at one. Other the goal, the third period was uneventful with each team registering just three shots.
The game went to overtime under the lights. Sadly, the contest ended 3:41 into the extra frame when Paul Thompson broke past the Bears defense and beat Sabourin on the breakaway. The Penguins won the game, 2-1.