Post-Game: BEARS 4, Penguins 1

The BEARS have six wins in their first 14 games of the season, and three of them have come against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Better yet, the BEARS are 3-0-0-0 against their biggest rivals, and have also won five of the last six regular-season meetings.

Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Especially when the BEARS have outplayed the Penguins in all three contests.  Last night, coming back to GIANT Center after dropping a bad game in Syracuse was just what HERSHEY needed.  Seeing 10,082 fans in the stands ready for a Saturday night rivalry was all the uplift that the BEARS needed.

The game started with a defensive battle, as neither team created but one five-on-five scoring chance during the first half of the opening period.  The BEARS were sent to two consecutive penalty kills early.  But it wasn’t the Penguins who threatened.

Mike Carman made a great play to spring Garrett Mitchell on a shorthanded breakaway from near center ice.  Brian Dumoulin hauled him down, giving Mitchell a penalty shot on which he converted a snap shot over Brad Thiessen’s glove.

The goal was the first successful penalty shot for the BEARS in nearly three calendar years (Mathieu Perreault vs. Bridgeport’s Scott Munroe on February 27, 2010).  Mitchell also has two of the BEARS’ three shorthanded goals.

The rugged winger went on to add a highlight-reel backhander that snuck just under the crossbar, after he blew past defenseman Dylan Reese on a left wing rush.  For the fifth time in the young season, video replay was necessary to confirm the goal – a replay which overrode referee Geoff Miller’s adamant wave-off.

The goal came shortly after the Penguins tied the game on a Trevor Smith power-play strike.

Perhaps the biggest goal of the game was the insurance marker scored by Tomas Kundratek.  With Joe Morrow serving a tripping call late in the second, the BEARS worked the puck around as time wound down.  Garrett Stafford received a pass back from Mathieu Beaudoin and promptly hurried a shot toward the net.  The puck deflected to the left circle, and Kundratek ripped it over a diving Thiessen (who nearly got his glove over in time) with just 0.4 secoinds left on the clock.

Boyd Kane iced the victory with an empty-netter in the third period’s final half-minute.

A great effort, and a great rebound from Friday night.  Braden Holtby, whose 23-save performance got lost with all the excitement and the increase of physical play as the game went on, earned the number three star of the game.  Kundratek’s power-play goal brought him one away from the AHL lead among defensemen in the category and earned him second-star honors.  Finishing with two goals and a plus-3 rating, Mitchell by far was top star.  Here is the box score from last night, a game which didn’t end without fireworks as you’ll see.  I was told that there will be no repercussions from the end game antics.

Now comes the test.  The Syracuse Crunch come to town for a 5:00 PM Sunday tilt, having scored 11 times in their last two games.

Get here early, and get here in full force.  The boys fed off of you!

GO BEARS!!!!!!

-Stucc

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