HERSHEY, Pa. – Giant Center is known around the American Hockey League as one of the toughest places for road teams to win. On Saturday night, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins ignored reputation and posted a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime victory over the Hershey Bears.
Down by two goals in the third period, the Penguins (12-3-1-0) rallied behind a three-point performance by Jake Guentzel and overtime game-winner from Carter Rowney.
Hershey struck first when Travis Boyd took the puck behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton net and then threw a pass around his own body back in the direction he came from. The dish ended up right on the tape of Jakub Vrána, who converted the close-range chance for his ninth goal of the season at 12:49 of the first period.
After Penguins head coach Clark Donatelli shuffled his offensive lines going into the second period, a reunited unit of Guentzel, Rowney and Tom Kostopoulos cashed in on their first shift together of the game. Kostopoulos fed Guentzel on a three-on-one rush and the rookie forward put it home 5:01 into the middle frame, tying the contest at one goal apiece.
The Bears answered back with a goal from Liam O’Brien at 12:02 of the second period, re-establishing a one-goal lead for Hershey.
Oskar Sundqvist was awarded a penalty shot with under 30 seconds to go in the second period, but for the first time in three attempts this season, the Penguins did not convert, and the score remained 2-1 in the Bears’ favor.
Early in the third, Christian Thomas tipped a puck past Tristan Jarry just as a power play expired, increasing the home team’s lead to 3-1.
The Penguins’ third line gave them life when a hard forecheck resulted in Garrett Wilson chopping a puck out of mid-air and through the five-hole of Bears goalie Joe Cannata at 6:24 of the third period. Wilson’s tally brought the score to 3-2.
Following a series of oh-so close chances for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Donatelli pulled Jarry in favor of an extra attacker late in third period in hopes of finding a tying goal. The plan worked to perfection as Kostopoulos, set up by Sundqvist and Guentzel, popped in a rebound with 1:04 remaining in regulation, knotting things up, 3-3.
Two minutes and one second into overtime, Rowney bullied his way around the Bears defense after accepting a pass from Guentzel and muscled the puck underneath Cannata. Rowney’s gritty goal completed the comeback victory and gave Wilkes-Barre/Scranton its second overtime victory of the season against Hershey.
Jarry ended up making 25 saves on 28 shots faced in the win. Cannata also recorded 25 stops.
The Penguins’ next game is Wednesday, Nov. 23, when they once again travel to Giant Center to take on the Hershey Bears. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s next home game is Saturday, Nov. 26, against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Individual game tickets for next Saturday night’s game and all Penguins home games, are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com, or by calling 800-745-3000.
Season ticket packages for the 2016-17 season of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey, including full season, 22-game, 12-game and Flexbook plans, are available by contacting the Penguins directly at (570) 208-7367.