WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – It was the first of two weekend matchups between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hershey Bears at Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday night. The two bitter rivals crossed the halfway point of their season series in the game, and in this one, the Penguins snapped Hershey’s four-game point streak with a 3-1 decision in a feisty contest that saw a few fights. Dustin Tokarski continued his brilliance against the Bears in goal with 29 saves, while Zach Fucale suffered the loss with 23 stops.
For the Penguins, they capitalized on their opportunities early and often, as two goals in the opening eight minutes proved to be more than enough scoring. They jumped out in front with Jonathan Gruden’s sixth of the season as he’d get hit by an incoming shot from Xavier Ouellet to open the scoring, followed quickly by Tyler Sikura’s fourth of the season on a little deflection in front of Fucale.
Sikky's sneaky 👀 pic.twitter.com/VzSbccVU6L
— WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) December 17, 2022
The fisticuffs happened early on in the third as Kale Kessy got tied up with Jordan Frasca that spilled over into the Penguins’ bench.
It ultimately took until the third period to find any more scoring in this game, as Sam Houde scored his third goal of the season. Hershey would ultimately break the Tokarski shutout bid in the game’s final minute as Gabriel Carlsson fired a shot from the point that found the back of the net, but it was ultimately too little, too late.
The win is Wilkes-Barre’s second in a row over rival Hershey and seven points out of eight in the last four meetings between the two as the Penguins gained two valuable points in the Atlantic Division standings. It’s the third win in a row for the Penguins, who had a week off between games prior to this set against Hershey.
For the Bears, their fate may have been different in this game with some better luck and improvement on the special teams. Hershey couldn’t find the net in four power play attempts in this game, and despite some post hits and crossbars, the team’s lack of finish on the power play without noted quarterback Bobby Nardella continued on this night. The two teams rematch tonight with a 6:05 PM EST puck drop.
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