The Hershey Bears entered Saturday against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins again looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses against Binghamton and Syracuse. Although inconsistency has been a concern this season, the Bears entered play possessing a 9-5-0-1 record in each game following a loss. On the flip side, however, Hershey’s record stands at a disappointing 3-7-1-2 when following a win.
Saturday the Bears’ ended a 3-in-3 game stretch with a thrilling 2-1 shootout victory over their I-81 Rivals. It was a game Hershey rightfully so deserved to win in regulation, but settled for a shootout win due to an outstanding performance by Pens’ goaltender Eric Hartzell.
The game was scoreless after 20 minutes, but the entertainment level did not dissatisfy the sellout crowd of 10,708 fans. Both teams combined for 54 total penalty minutes in the opening stanza including two fights.
Second period the fighting and misconducts calmed, but the scoring began for both sides. David Leggio appeared to struggle with his rebound control all night long, and at the 7:27 mark, former Bear Mike Carman capitalized. Carman finished a rebound chance after crashing the net following a Denver Manderson shot.
But 5:04 later, David Kolomatis brought the Giant Center crowd to their feet for the first time of the night. He rocketed a slap shot from the face off circle to the left of Pens’ Eric Hartzell. Nicolas Deschamps recorded the secondary helper, to increase his point total to 17 on the season in a productive month of December.
Entering play, the Bears have only won once in five total games when tied after 40 minutes of play. But after Saturday the Bears can double the amount of wins in the previous stat to two. The Chocolate and White out shot Wilkes-Barre in the final stanza of regulation 14-6 and continuously threw pucks on net from outside the slot area. A solid goaltending performance by Eric Hartzell where he stopped 32 of 33 shots in 65 minutes pushed the game to a skills competition.
Both Casey Wellman and Ryan Potulny scored in the shootout, and Leggio stopped four of the five Penguins he faced to push Hershey’s season shootout record to 4-3 and claim a 2-1 win.
The win wraps up the 2013 calendar year for the Bears, sending them to the new year a game over the .500 mark.