The Hershey Bears snapped their three game losing streak Saturday night, defeating their division rival, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins 4-1. It was the third win in three games against the Penguins on the year, with the fourth of twelve contests set for next Wednesday back at Giant Center.
Braden Holtby played strong in net for Hershey, stopping 23 of the 24 Penguins shots on goal. Garrett Mitchell posted two goals on the night including a penalty shot goal while the Bears were shorthanded in the first period along with a second period marker. Tomas Kundratek added a last second power play goal in the second period and Captain Boyd Kane netted an empty net goal with 30 seconds left to play.
“I thought we played with good poise tonight”, Bears coach, Mark French said postgame. “A good level of intensity to our game, but we showed poise at the right time with the puck.”
“Certainly something to build upon and something to point to that if the execution and the buy in is there, then this should be a good formula for winning hockey games.”
Bears forward, Garrett Mitchell got the scoring started for Hershey, recording his third goal of the season on a penalty shot. While on the penalty kill, Hershey forward Mike Carman made a great pass to Mitchell who drew a penalty on the scoring chance.
“He [Mike Carman] made a good play to keep it”, Bears forward, Garrett Mitchell said of his second period goal. “I just broke for it. He held onto it and I think if he would of held onto it much longer, I don’t think it would have been there.”
Wilkes-Barre battled back in the second period, cashing in on the power play. Penguins’ center, Trevor Smith registered his second goal of the year following a slam dunk feed in front of the net from forward Beau Bennett. Wilkes-Barre forward and Penguins lockout casualty, Eric Tangradi started the play and received credit for the secondary assist.
Garrett Mitchell padded the Bears lead to 2-1 with just under five minutes to go in the second period, roofing a backhander past Thiessen. The original call on the ice was no goal, but was overturned following video replay. Hershey forwards Zach Hamill and T.J. Syner recorded the helpers on Mitchell’s fourth goal of the season.
“Coming into this morning I didn’t know if Garrett [Mitchell] would play”, said French. “He got into a fight last night and stuck his nose in a game that we weren’t playing well, but Garrett seizes those opportunities. There’s no question he played and played well. He’s a leader on this team and those types of guys are a catalyst. He was a real nice spark for us tonight in more ways than one.”
Hershey added a power play goal in the final second of the third period, with Tomas Kundratek pouncing on a rebound to give the Bears a 3-1 advantage with .4 seconds left on the clock. Bears defenseman, Garrett Stafford ripped a shot from the point that Thiessen padded aside right into the lap of Kundratek who buried it. The goal was Kundratek’s fourth of the year, as he leads all Hershey defenseman in goals scored.
The second period featured two fights, with Hershey forward Matt Clackson dropping the gloves with Wilkes-Barre Scranton defenseman, Joe Morrow and Jeff Taffe fighting Bobby Farnham. Both teams recorded 11 shots in the second stanza, but the Penguins held a 17-16 shot advantage through two periods.
“We had a great crowd tonight which was a big help and we always want to play well against Wilkes”, said Braden Holtby following Hershey’s third win against the Penguins this season.
Hershey hosts the Syracuse Crunch Sunday night back at Giant Center.
1. Attendance: 10,082
2. Hershey forwards’ Ryan Stoa and Jonathon Kalinksi were both injury scratches
3. Barry Almeida, Patrick McNeill, Stanislav Gailev, Matt Pope and Julien Brouillette were Hershey’s healthy scratches
4. Kevin Marshall and Steve Oleksy both dropped the gloves in the closing moments of the game
1. Garrett Mitchell (two goals, two shots, plus three)
2. Tomas Kundratek (one goal, three shots, plus one)
3. Braden Holtby (23 saves on 24 shots)