I thought about this headline on the drive home tonight. A lifeless effort by the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins tonight and a 5-2 pasting from the rival Bears.
Part of me thought it was too harsh. After all, Hershey came into tonight’s game on a nine game point streak. The Bears are no pushover.
The other half of me, and I think that’s where this one is going, stuck with the headline because of the star power that the Penguins brought with them tonight. 13 forwards and 7 defensemen skated today in Florida for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have no injuries to report and thus, no need for a recall to from the farm leaving the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins as strong as they can be with the likes of Jake Guentzel, Derrick Pouliot, Kevin Porter and Oskar Sundqvist in the lineup only missing Carter Rowney to injury and Steve Oleksy to recall to Pittsburgh as that seventh defenseman.
At home, on a Friday, against your biggest rival after a week of practice and you go and get your ass kicked. That’s pretty bad, no matter how you try to paint it.
Tristan Jarry opposed Vitek Vanecek.
Dominik Simon – Kevin Porter – Tom Kostopoulos
Garrett Wilson – Oskar Sundqvist – Josh Archibald
Jake Guentzel – J-S Dea – Danny Kristo
Tom Sestito – Teddy Blueger – Reid Gardiner
Derrick Pouliot – Chad Ruhwedel
David Warsofsky – Lukas Bengtsson
Cameron Gaunce – Ethan Prow
Tristan Jarry – Casey DeSmith
Lineup Notes: Healthy scratches were a mile long. Tim Erixon, Stuart Percy, Patrick McGrath, Sahir Gill, Jarrett Burton, Ryan Haggerty and Barry Goers with Carter Rowney and Thomas DiPauli the injured. Home debut for Danny Kristo, season debuts for Blueger and Sestito. Obie said pregame that Percy and Erixon will cycle in defensively this weekend. You may also see Patrick McGrath tomorrow as well.
First Period: Felt like it was all Bears to open despite either team having one shot on goal in the games first 6:30. Tristan Jarry stopped Christian Thomas on a breakaway, but later the Bears scored on a three on one when Nathan Walker put one past Jarry on an easy tap in. Said this at the time…
Chandler Stephenson doubled the Bears lead about a minute later. That goal came after a questionable icing call on the Penguins. It appeared that a Wilkes-Barre player had beat Hershey back to the line but the linesman called it anyway.
Jake Guentzel, fresh off of NHL assignment, would score on the power play to cut the Bears lead in half and made it 2-1.
Second Period: First 12 minutes absolutely flew by with end to end action. Hershey came out of the game without receiving a single penalty from the whistle of referee Andrew Thackaberry, who I thought called an outstanding game. As an aside, because there wasn’t any rough housing our stupid stick fouls, that made this game all the more frustrating to watch because the Bears straight up beat the Penguins clean.
Hershey transitioned up ice using all of I think it was three passes and Zach Sanford cashed on a nice cross ice feed by Nathan Walker and it was 3-1 Bears.
Third Period: Pens couldn’t cash on a carryover penalty from the second on fresh ice. Danny Kristo blew a tire in front of Vanecek and fell trying to get a shot off then Vanecek robbed Oskar Sundqvist in close later on. But it was a nice pass at even strength by Guentzel setting up Jean-Sebastien Dea that brought the Penguins back within one and it was 3-2. Three gals in four games for Dea.
Undeterred, old buddy Zach Sill scored a big goal in front of Jarry on another blown assignment that pretty much iced the game away and made it 4-2.
If that didn’t, a Penguins power play where they failed to gain entry into the offensive zone to register even a shot at Vanecek surely did, as the Wilkes-Barre faithful booed their power play unit off the ice as Hershey easily killed the penalty.
Hershey iced the game away on yet another quick developing odd man rush and made it 5-2 Sill fed Garrett Mitchell who scored and it was all over.
Three Stars: 3) Nathan Walker (goal, assist, +1) 2) Jake Guentzel (goal, assist, -1) 1) Zach Sanford (goal, assist +2)
Around the Division: St. John’s beats Springfield in a run and gun affair 6-5 on The Rock…Lehigh Valley beats Rochester 4-3. Those two teams rematch tomorrow…Providence is a team you need to start paying attention to, they beat Toronto at home tonight in Rhode Island by a 5-3 score. Hartford and Bridgeport were off.
Standings: Hershey (.717 percentage points) — Penguins (.705) — Lehigh Valley (.688) — Bridgeport (.682) — Providence (.587) — Springfield (.500) — Hartford (.386)
Wheeling Update: The Nailers fell in Canada to the Brampton Beast by a 4-2 score. Milos Bubela scored and so did Garrett Meurs for the Nailers. Doug Carr started and stopped 21 of 24. Have to think that Sean Maguire gets the start Sunday in the rematch in Brampton.
Pens and Bears will rematch tomorrow in Wilkes-Barre at 7:05. Expect a bevy of lineup changes and honestly a different result. Gameday setup is yours Saturday at 3.
Let’s Go Pens!