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Bears Down Penguins on Protas Goal

Bears Down Penguins on Protas Goal

HERSHEY, Pa. – It was another hard-fought game between the Hershey Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday afternoon at Giant Center, and the latest installment brought plenty in entertainment and drama between the perpetual rivals. Hershey rookie forward Aliaksei Protas scored his first AHL goal in only his fourth game in the league, and Brian Pinho tallied an empty net goal to provide the offense while Pheonix Copley made 21 saves in the winning effort.

Protas scored the goal on a great play by his linemates Brett Leason and Joe Snively, who bumped the puck to the rookie Bear with a bit of open space in the slot. Protas demonstrated the great shot that made him and Leason such a formidable force in the WHL with the Prince Alberta Raiders in juniors to get the scoring started. A number of Raiders fans showed their support for Protas and Leason on social media in a great show of appreciation for the duo’s success in the AHL.

The drama would intensify in the second period as the bad blood between the teams grew to a boil after a big hit by Wilkes-Barre’s Kyle Olsen on Martin Fehervary. The Hershey defender bobbled a puck to the boards in front of the Wilkes-Barre bench and moved the puck as Olsen was coming down on him and took a heavy hit. Olsen immediately had to answer the bell from Bears forward Kale Kessy in a spirited scrap to the delight of the 1,445 recorded attendance at Giant Center. Kessy received the first of two ten-minute misconducts on the play in addition to the fighting major and an instigator penalty.

The teams continued to exchange chances in a very tightly played contest into the third period, where Hershey found themselves shorthanded. Wilkes-Barre’s Jordy Bellerive found the puck at the top of the crease on a rebound and looked to have evened the game at one. However, the officiating crew of Terry Koharski and Jordan Deckard did not signal goal, and with no video replay this season in the AHL, washed out the goal. The score remained 1-0 in favor of the Bears.

Even though the goal was disallowed, the Penguins were not without chances the rest of the way. Copley had to be on his toes in the majority of the game, particularly one sequence just over halfway through the period. On a bit of a broken play, the Penguins were able to move the puck quickly in front of Copley and the quick acrobatics of the Hershey goaltender preserved the lead at a key juncture.

The Bears were able to weather the storm and ultimately draw a power play in the last two minutes thanks to a too many men on the ice call. Although the Penguins were able to pull goaltender Max Legace (20 saves), it would be Brian Pinho who would show great determination in stealing the puck and sealing the game for the Bears on this afternoon in a big decision for the Bears.

The win moves the Bears to a 5-1-0-0 record over the Penguins through six of ten matchups between the teams so far. Hershey had a game against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms originally scheduled for April 10 postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, which impacted Lehigh Valley’s game on Sunday as well, and the Bears still find themselves trailing the Phantoms in points percentage despite a three point edge. The Bears are still scheduled to play the Phantoms on Wednesday at Giant Center, but it could change based on the pattern recently. A make-up date for the April 10 game has yet to be determined.

In the postgame press conference with head coach Spencer Carbery, the Bears bench boss mentioned that Alex Alexeyev skated for the first time since completing his quarantine over the past week, but the Bears are going to ease him back into the swing of things before dressing him in a game. The implied timeline would indicate that Saturday may be a day to expect the blueliner to make his debut for the Bears this season.

Another note of interest lies with the Washington Capitals, who on Sunday traded former Bears defender Jonas Siegenthaler to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a third-round draft choice in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Hershey is scheduled to be in action on Wednesday in Lehigh Valley and will host the Binghamton Devils on Saturday afternoon at Giant Center.

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