WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Hershey Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins met up for the opening game of a three-game playoff series on Friday night. Even with additions like Joe Snively in the lineup, it was more of the same as a 3-0 count shut out the Bears. Two goals in rapid succession for the Penguins in the first period was more than enough, as the Bears didn’t do enough to crack the scoreboard in a winnable game. Will Reilly and Alex Nylander had goals in the first, and Tommy Nappier made 23 saves to put the Penguins one win away from facing the Springfield Thunderbirds in the Atlantic Division Semifinals. Pheonix Copley made 28 saves on 30 shots in the loss for the Bears.
Hershey hoped that a 12-day layoff between their season finale and the playoffs would allow the team to reset and find their game for when the postseason got underway. The Bears did not have any rescheduled games to play in the extra week. Plus, they had one of the later starts to the playoffs among teams to play in the first round, but the break appeared to affect them adversely. The Penguins led on the scoreboard by two after one period and in shots by a 15-3 margin. Much like the Bears have done throughout the second half and, particularly, in the last few games of the season series, they were able to keep it close but not find the back of the net. Hershey mustered 23 shots, but few were strong tests for the goaltender and even fewer from high-danger areas on the ice. The Bears got more shots on goal as each period went along, but it was far from enough in this one.
Special teams did not factor in on the game for either side. However, Wilkes-Barre would be credited with a power-play goal on the empty net tally with Hershey’s Cody Franson boxed for tripping. Overall, the Bears came up empty on three power-play attempts in the game that could have at least helped swing momentum. Instead, it turned out to be a rather pedestrian effort. It was all of the issues Hershey has experienced offensively over the last few weeks, seemingly at worst. To the credit of Wilkes-Barre, they did a good job holding the Bears at bay and put together a solid defensive effort in the course of sixty minutes.
Not our night. Short series makes Game 2 a must win as we head back to Giant Center down 0-1.
Highlights from Game 1 in Wilkes: pic.twitter.com/ADoJLFVhnU
— x – Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) May 7, 2022
During game action, the Bears often looked out of sync and uncharacteristically disorganized throughout the game. Getting back to their game and playing the right way will be of utmost importance, or else they’ll be looking at seeing their season end on home ice. Hershey’s shutout loss combines with eight goose eggs in the regular season for nine total, which already set a franchise high in that category.
The two teams will face each other in a second and potentially decisive game on Sunday night at Giant Center. Puck drop for game two is set for 5:00 on Sunday evening in the first playoff game to take place at Giant Center in exactly three calendar years to the day since they lost to the Charlotte Checkers in the 2019 Calder Cup Playoff.
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