WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It was an entertaining return to hockey action between the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who both missed time and rescheduled several games due to COVID-19. The two teams met up for the first of 12 games this season and first of five in December on Saturday, and the first matchup lived up to the billing as Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored in overtime to send the Bears to a 3-2 win at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Bears played spoiler to the Penguins on Teddy Bear Toss Night, which got started early when Valtteri Puustinen got the party started by beating Hershey goaltender Pheonix Copley on the glove side from the left faceoff circle to send the stuffed animals flying. The goal was Puustinen’s sixth of the season, and was a positive sign for a team that has struggled to score very many goals this season. Hershey would answer just over four minutes later with the first goal of the season for offensive defenseman Bobby Nardella, who fired a shot through a screen past Penguins backstop Tommy Napier to even the count at one.
The teams would trade goals again in the second period separated by only seconds. Cody Franson got the goal for Hershey on the power play with a huge slap shot to give the Bears a lead they’d enjoy for only 28 seconds before the Penguins answered. Felix Robert went the other way and beat Copley to even the score with his fifth of the season, and despite the teams trading chances, the game went to overtime. In the extra session, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby got the rebound of a Mike Vecchione shot and buried it for his second overtime winner of the season and an important statement win in Hershey’s first game in two weeks.
We love winning, but it's a little extra special when we beat the Baby Pens ☺ pic.twitter.com/wVoAD2N3Hq
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) December 12, 2021
Vecchione returned to the lineup for the first time since the beginning of November and appeared to pick up right where he left off by registering a pair of assists. He played a large role in the winner by directing the rebound towards Jonsson-Fjallby, as well as assisting on Nardella’s goal. Both goaltenders faced 30 shots in the game, but Copley, sporting a fresh pair of Hershey-colored pads, came away one stop better in the decision. The two teams prepare to see each other a few more times this season, starting on Tuesday with a rematch at Mohegan Sun Arena.
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