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Hershey Bears Defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Netminder Battle

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hosted the Hershey Bears for the second matchup of their season series and first at Mohegan Sun Arena in another close game

Hershey Bears Defeat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Netminder Battle

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. – The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hosted the Hershey Bears for the second matchup of their season series and first at Mohegan Sun Arena in another close game between two of the Atlantic Division’s stingiest teams. Hershey was able to chip away at Dustin Tokarski and hold off the Penguins late by a 2-1 final score. Zach Fucale earned the win with 30 saves in a very strong outing. It’s Wilkes-Barre’s first regulation loss of the season, while also being Hershey’s first road win of the season.

The Penguins came out as the stronger of the two teams in the first period, leading in shots by a 13-6 count, and had the better of the power play opportunities in the game by a 6-3 count, including a four-minute double minor penalty assessed to Bobby Nardella in the second period.

It took half the game to find any scoring, as the clubs featured two of the best goaltenders in the AHL. Tokarski faced a majority of the shots in the middle stanza, and the Bears broke through thanks to some of the oldest advice in hockey: “go to the net with your stick down, and good things will happen.” Mike Sgarbossa did just that and won a net-front battle to chip a pass from Mike Vecchione in from close range to give Hershey the early lead. Vincent Iorio chipped in his second AHL point with the assist as some of Hershey’s youth came through in this game.

The Bears went through a tumultuous week with personnel relating to their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals, who saw injuries to several players including Beck Malenstyn, who was recalled earlier in the season. As a result of that, the Capitals recalled Lucas Johansen, Garrett Pilon, and Sonny Milano this week, reassigning Pilon hours before puck drop after claiming Nicolas Aube-Kubel on waivers and not making the game in time. The Bears were without captain Dylan McIlrath, who received a one-game suspension for instigating in the final minute of last Sunday’s game.

Through all the player shuffling, youth continued to be served Saturday night, with a power play goal from Ethen Frank in his return to the lineup after missing some of last weekend’s action due to injury. He fired a perfect shot to beat Tokarski late in the second period, a lamplighter which proved to be the game-winning goal.

Frank continues to produce for the Bears a year after finishing as the NCAA’s top scorer a year ago. In six games, Frank has three goals and is tied for the top spot on the team in that regard, including two on the power play. Three of Frank’s four AHL goals have come a man to the good for the Bears, and the Chocolate and White look for him to become a big part of that unit to help lift their numbers.

The Bears held off a Penguins onslaught of shots in the third period by a 14-8 count and broke through late with a power play goal by Alex Nylander for another goal against Hershey. Nylander scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season to continue his hot start with just under a minute left in the game, but the Bears clamped down and handed the Penguins their first regulation loss of the season.

The two teams rematch later today at Giant Center in the only home-and-home set of the 12 matchups this season, and with some bad blood brewing, it should prove to be must-see action for AHL fans.

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