This game was a lot closer than the scoreline would indicate.
The shots at one point of the second period were 19-9 Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Then the Hershey Bears took the game over from a standpoint of it felt like they were on a perpetual power play.
A lot of turning points from this one but the one that stood out the most was a third period stand with about seven minutes played where the Hershey Bears set up shop in their offensive zone and continually cycled the puck and continually generated chance after chance at Tristan Jarry and an already tired Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins defensive corps trailing 2-1.
Another turning point you could say was the Bears inability to score on any of the five power play opportunities that the referees awarded them tonight.
It was a game that the Penguins were prepared for and one that they executed the game plan perfectly.
The final tonight was 4-1 Penguins, but the game was much closer than that as it was 2-1 late and the Bears in desperation mode pulled starting goaltender Dan Ellis in favor of an extra attacker for an empty net while the Penguins found the empty net twice.
Kael Mouillierat – Dustin Jeffrey – Dominik Simon
Mattias Plachta – Carter Rowney – Tom Kostopoulos
Tom Sestito – J-S Dea – Josh Archibald
Adam Krause – Jarrett Burton – Patrick McGrath
Tim Erixon – Steve Oleksy
Reid McNeill – Barry Goers
Ryan Parent – Will O’Neill
Tristan Jarry – Franky Palazzese
First Period: Bears power play woes would get started off the bat when Carter Rowney had a Grade A chance on a shorthanded try on a Penguins clear. He skated in unabated towards Ellis and was denied but in the scrum that ensued Chris Bourque was penalized for roughing.
The Penguins would get a full two minutes of five on three when the Bears were called for two separate penalties but would not cash on the two man advantage. Will O’Neill was slashed but referee Cameron Voss thought that he sold the play a bit too much and also put O’Neill in the box for embellishment so the teams were four-on-three. In that sequence, Tom Kostopoulos knocked home a loose puck on the crease of Ellis to put the Penguins ahead 1-0.
How crucial is it for the Penguins to score the first goal with half of the regulars up in Pittsburgh? I should dig up the stat line on scoring first under Donatelli.
Hershey would respond 1:09 later as Travis Boyd took a shot that Riley Barber pounced on and poked home to tie the game at one.
Then Tom Sestito fought Liam OBrien. Video…
Liam O’Brien, channeling his inner Dennis Bonvie, did the following after the fight…
I suppose that O’Brien didn’t take kindly to getting punched in the head by Sestito after being prone on the ice. Sestito was assessed a ten minute misconduct for continuing the fight, so O’Brien’s antics were justified in my eyes. Total heel move doing that three or four times to the Wilkes-Barre faithful, but hey, as the band ‘The Jam’ used to sing, “That’s Entertainment.”
Second Period: Penguins would edge ahead on a shot from Barry Goers at the point that would get tipped in by Dustin Jeffrey to give the Pens a 2-1 lead.
Then, the turning point I referenced in the lede.
Bears would go on a power play and only manage one shot on goal at Jarry. An adjustment had to have been made by Bears head coach Troy Mann because Hershey set up shop in the Penguins end and stayed there the remainder of the game. They forced the Pens into a too many men on the ice call when the Pens were hemmed in deep and were trying to exchange tired bodies for fresh ones.
The Penguins killed that penalty but the pressure was mounting into the…
Third Period: Tristan Jarry robbed Christian Djoos coming down the slot with the glove that I hope runs in the Coal Street highlight reel package I can embed later because it was a highlight reel save.
Then, the stand.
Bears set up and just came with chance after chance at the Penguins keeping the puck in the zone and not allowing for the Penguins to clear or Jarry to cover up. Barry Goers made a big block that he told Tom about postgame…
It really felt like a continual power play for Hershey, but the Penguins withstood it all and came out unscathed.
Teams traded power plays but neither could score. Then Mann pulled Ellis giving the Bears the extra attacker. Dustin Jeffrey flipped one in the air from about 160′ away that found the Bears empty net to give the Penguins a 3-1 lead.
Ellis was pulled again and this time Tom Sestito of all people scored which made it 4-1 and made Chris Bourque mighty angry…
Bourque was assessed a 10 minute misconduct for his antics. He was mad that the linesman missed Josh Archibald potentially being offsides during the sequence that led to the Sestito goal.
Three Stars: 3) Tom Kostopoulos (goal, even) 2) Dustin Jeffrey (two goals including the game winner, +2) and 1) Tristan Jarry (25 saves n 26 shots)
Barry Goers to Tom postgame:
Won’t have long to wait. These two teams rematch Sunday afternoon.
Around the Division: Providence goes into Toronto and wins 5-4. Despite the loss though the Marlies are the first team to clinch a playoff berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs….Bridgeport beats Portland 2-1 in overtime…Hartford beats Springfield 4-3 in a shootout. Lehigh Valley was off.
Standings: Hershey (.635) — Penguins (.627) — Providence (.603) — Bridgeport (.594) — Portland (.556) — Hartford (.556) — Lehigh Valley (.477) — Springfield (.435)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers win in Kalamazoo by the score of 5-2. John McCarron had a goal for the Nailers in the win.
Coal Street infographic…
And video highlights…
The Gameday setup for what is essentially first place in the Atlantic Division will hit the blog Sunday at 1.
Let’s Go Pens!