WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Hershey Bears paid their second visit up I-81 to the Mohegan Sun Arena to take on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in midweek action on Tuesday. The game was a rescheduled contest from a week ago and became Hershey’s second win in four days, a 4-1 decision. The Bears scored the game’s first three goals and put a halt to a Penguins comeback attempt with a late strike. Pheonix Copley earned the win in goal with 18 saves on 19 shots, while Matt Jurusik suffered his first AHL loss in his second game with 22 saves.
The Bears opened up the scoring midway through the first period with a couple of their top players finding the twine. Mike Vecchione and Joe Snively both extended their point streaks to six games each, with the former winning a puck battle along the boards and setting up the latter for a great finish. The pair have been Hershey’s brightest stars this season, and continue to put points up on the board. Vecchione returned from injury on Saturday and has posted five helpers in three games, and has 13 points in 10 games played this season.
The goal was the first allowed by Jurusik in the AHL after posting a shutout in his debut on Sunday for the Penguins. Jurusik previously got into eight games of action with Hershey’s ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, a season ago and found himself on the opposite end of the organization on this night. The Bears would extend their lead in the second period with a pair of rapid strike goals, the first of which came off the stick of forward Kody Clark. Clark made a nifty move behind the net and banked the puck off of Jurusik and in from the trapezoid to double the Bears’ lead. The goal came off of a hardworking shift for the Hershey line of Clark, Mason Morelli, and Kale Kessy, who have made a formidable trio for the team. Hershey would add to it only a minute later when Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored his second goal in as many games at Mohegan Sun Arena by stealing the puck on the backcheck and sniping to make it 3-0 going into the locker room after two.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton looked to add a bit of drama in the final frame, tallying their lone goal on a long shot from Pierre-Olivier Joseph through a screen to cut into the Bears lead. Hershey would eliminate any thought of a comeback, though, with a dominant shift that resulted in Matt Moulson’s third goal of the season. Shane Gersich looked like he had eyes in the back of his head, making a brilliant pass behind his back to Moulson at the net front for the goal that put the game out of reach at 4-1. The biggest downside to Hershey aside from allowing the goal was the early loss of veteran defenseman Cody Franson, who left and did not return after crashing into the end boards with Felix Robert very early into the game.
It was a good result for the Bears after a sour decision on Sunday to the Laval Rocket, while the Penguins took a step back after a big win on Sunday. The win moved Hershey past Wilkes-Barre in the standings coming into the night deadlocked at 21. The Bears and Penguins have ten more matchups to play this season, with the next installment coming this Saturday at Giant Center for the first time this season. The two teams play five times in the month of December as divisional play ramps up in the Atlantic, with Hershey currently occupying fourth place after the win. The Bears will travel to Springfield to take on the Thunderbirds on Friday, while the Penguins will be idle until the teams rematch on Saturday.
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