The marathon rivalry between the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton Penguins kicked off a fifteenth season on October 12 in Wilkes-Barre. Two games into the season series, the Pens found themselves with an early two victory edge over the Chocolate and White.
Saturday night for the first time this season, both clubs squared off on Giant Center ice with the Bears determined for their first win against W-B/S in 2013-14. In T.J. Syner’s season debut, he involved himself in a spirited first period altercation before falling to the Penguins, 4-2.
In recent posts, it’s been mention Hershey’s consistency to score first, and the trend continued early in the first period. David Kolomatis earned his first goal as a Hershey Bear 6:38 into the contest. He threw a shot on frame from the right point which eluded a shaky Jeff Deslauriers. The goal appeared to be deflected off a Penguin in front of the net.
But for only the second time this season, the Chocolate and White tallied the game’s first and second goals to grab a 2-0 lead. After Kolomatis pinched deep near the bottom of the left face off circle, he landed a clean, open-ice check which opened a quick shooting lane for Jeff Taffe. With 11:23 remaining in the opening frame, Taffe scored low to the ice on a sharp angle.
Arguably the main story of the opening frame was the clinic put on by David Leggio in goal. With Philipp Grubauer looking on from the bench, Leggio single handily denied Wilkes-Barre from capitalizing on a glorious 5-on-3 chance for 1:48. His top save included one on a tic-tac-toe passing play where he was pulled out of position and stopped a goal from crossing with the blade of an out-stretched goalie stick.
Thanks to Leggio and an opportunistic two goals on seven shots, Hershey carried a 2-0 lead into the dressing room at first intermission.
Into the middle period the tide completely turned in Wilkes-Barre’s favor, with the Bears providing a helping hand. First, Chris Conner scored only 4:54 into the stanza on a fancy forehand back hand move on David Leggio. It foreshadowed future events to come, as the Penguins continued to suffocate the Bears in their defensive end by winning battles to loose pucks and playing with continuous fire.
At the exact midway point of regulations, the Pens cashed in off a questionable line change by Hershey. A slow change allowed Wilkes-Barre to transition on a rare 2-on-0 breakaway, leaving Leggio hung out to dry. Harry Zolnierczyk finished the passing play to foil the Bears’ lead. The Penguins continued to fire 22 shots on goal in the frame, but not before claiming their first lead of the night in the middle stanza’s final minute.
Philip Samuelsson blasted a slap shot from the left point that deflected past a screened Leggio. It was reviewed briefly for a high-stick, but the goal was confirmed shortly after.
Luckily Hershey was still in the game with 20 minutes remaining to correct mistakes and stop the Penguins’ on-going momentum.
But despite two power play chances in the third period and better flow and tempo offensively, Wilkes-Barre defeated Hershey for the second time in as many nights.
A David Leggio turnover after he looked to play the puck forward on a man-advantage led to a giveaway and a goal for the Penguins. Andrew Ebbett tallied a shorthanded goal to put icing on the cake for Wilkes-Barre.