Game 76 of the regular season schedule for the Hershey Bears. It comes a night after claiming the throne as Atlantic Division Champions for the regular season. But with every game, there is a new task at hand. Tonight’s task featured the 12th and final regular season chapter between the Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Vitek Vanecek was called up last night from the South Carolina Stingrays to rest Dan Ellis and Justin Peters. The assignment also gives Vanecek a well deserved debut in Hershey after a remarkable season in South Carolina.
In the first period, Vanecek answered the bell to all 10 shots he faced leading to a scoreless intermission. He looked very calm and composed in net.
Vanecek and Casey DeSmith both continued their shutout bids into the third. Hershey went 0-for-4 on the man advantage through 40 minutes, similar to the Pens’ 0-for-3 mark. Through 40 minutes, Vanecek has continued to show great positioning in goal and great control of rebounds, deflecting most out of harm’s way.
4:53 into the third period, the Chocolate and White got on the board via power play. Jakub Vrana opened the scoring with a dart to the top shelf past DeSmith. Vanecek’s shutout bid unfortunately fell 3:17 short, as the Penguins answered back late. Dustin Jeffrey tallied his 20th of the season with a shot low to the ice on Vanecek.
Extra time was required, as well as the skills competition. Christian Djoos scored in the second round, and Riley Barber sent the fan base home happy with a strike in the third round to close out the game.
The Hershey Bears finish 43-21-5-7. It will be the Bears and the Portland Pirates squaring off in the first round of the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Submitted by intern Matt Trust