BEARS PLAY COMEBACK, DEFEAT PENGUINS 5-4
HERSHEY, Pa. – A dominating performance over the first half of the game was wiped out by a hat trick from Mathieu Perreault, as the Hershey Bears came back to defeat the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-4 on Sunday afternoon at Giant Center in a weather-related makeup game.
The Penguins took a 1-0 lead 13:01 into the game, as rookie forward Eric Tangradi left the puck behind the net for Joe Vitale. Vitale then cut in front of the net and backhanded a shot through the pads of Bears netminder Semyon Varlamov. Nick Johnson would add to the lead with a similar move, as his backhander went waist-high past Varlamov’s blocker hand. The visitors would take the 2-0 lead to the dressing room and post 17 shots to the Bears’ 4, who entered this contest trailing at the end of the first period just eight times in 49 games. Greg Amadio tried to spark the crowd by dropping the mitts with Wade Brookbank but the Penguins’ winger earned the takedown.
On the shift after Brookbank was freed from the penalty box, he stationed himself at the left goal post as Zach Sill sent a low backhander on goal from the slot. The puck bounced in off of Brookbank’s stick and earned him his third goal of the season, and gave the Penguins a seemingly comfortable 3-0 advantage.
Just past the halfway point of the second, Perreault fired a shot through a screen from the left circle and past Penguins goaltender Brad Thiessen to get the Bears on the board. Perreault scored again on the Bears’ first power play to cut the lead to 3-2 with 7:00 remaining in the second, and the hero of the Bears’ last game, Andrew Joudrey, would finish a passing play from Oskar Osala to complete the tying comeback. Perreault then completed his hat trick at 10:46 of the third to give Hershey its first lead of the night.
But after a delay, the Penguins responded by winning the faceoff, getting the puck deep into the right corner, and onto the stick of Nick Johnson. He and Chris Conner would power toward the top of Varlamov’s crease, and a shot deflected upstairs off the stick of Conner to tie the score.
The Bears would earn a late-period power play which the Penguins killed off, but with just 1:04 left in regulation, Perreault fed the puck to captain Bryan Helmer at the center point. His slapper rose over the glove of Thiessen and into the net, giving the Bears their seventh win in eight games against the Penguins.
Thiessen was tagged with the loss and fell to 2-8-0, making 28 stops on 33 shots. Varlamov improved to 2-0-0 on his conditioning assignment, turning aside 26 of 30.
The Penguins finished the afternoon 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Bears tallied twice on five opportunities.
Next up for the Penguins is a trip to the Tidewater to face the Norfolk Admirals. Faceoff is set for Wednesday, February 10th at 7:15 pm at the Norfolk Scope. The team returns home to take on the Binghamton Senators on Friday, February 12th at 7:05 pm. It is the second $1 hot dog and $1 beer night. From 6:00-7:30, hot dogs are just $1 as are select draft beers for those over the age of 21. The special is good only while the supply lasts.
NOTES: The Penguins have lost six consecutive games to the Bears, and are 1-7-0-0 in the 12-game season series… RW Nick Johnson has six points (2G, 4A) in four consecutive games… LW Luca Caputi’s seven-game point streak was snapped… The Penguins are 9-15-1-1 when allowing a power play goal.