(HERSHEY, PA) It was the latest installment of the rivalry series between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hershey Bears on Saturday afternoon at Giant Center, and the host Bears skated away with a 3-1 win thanks to Alexander Alexeyev’s first goal of the season and an empty-net goal from Brian Pinho. The win is Hershey’s sixth straight while Wilkes-Barre suffered its fourth straight setback.
Hershey head coach Spencer Carbery lauded the style of play as an excellent test each time the two teams face each other.
“I love playing their team because our makeup’s a little different from a personnel standpoint, so I think these games are so beneficial for our younger guys that are a little more speed, skill, lighter, and these games against Wilkes are heavy, hard, playoff-style games in the regular season that have such a development component.”
Saturday’s game was no different, as the Bears and Penguins battled through two scoreless periods which featured a lot of heavy checking and a goaltending duel between Hershey’s Zach Fucale and Wilkes-Barre’s Alex D’Orio. Fucale hadn’t started since April 7 while D’Orio is taking over the starter role in Wilkes-Barre in the absence of Max Legace and Emil Larmi on the Pittsburgh taxi squad. In the end, Fucale made 31 saves while D’Orio had 24.
Hershey opened the scoring early in the third when Axel Jonsson-Fjallby was the beneficiary of a net mouth scramble, chipping home a loose puck that broke the scoreless contest. Fresh off of playing his 100th AHL game on Wednesday, Fjallby and his line mates Damien Riat and Connor McMichael were among Hershey’s best forwards in the game as the trio combined for the goal. Wilkes-Barre would tie the game a few minutes later on their only power play of the game when Drew O’Connor slipped a puck through Fucale to even the count at one and breaking a goal scoring drought at Giant Center for the Penguins.
With time winding down, Alexeyev tallied his first of the season on a laser wrist shot from the top of the right circle to give Hershey a 2-1 lead. The shot had a little bit of traffic around it but was ultimately untouched on its way past D’Orio, and proved to be the game-winner as Brian Pinho would seal the deal with another empty-net goal. Five of Pinho’s eight goals this season have been on the empty net, as Pinho is a fixture on the ice in late-game scenarios for the Bears and showed great determination in making this one happen.
Alex Alexeyev's late-period heroics helped propel the Bears to a 3-1 victory over the Penguins on Saturday afternoon. HIGHLIGHTS!
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) April 24, 2021
The win continues Hershey’s impressive streak of 9-1-0-0 in its last ten games as it continues to lead the North Division. Saturday’s game will be followed by a rematch on Sunday evening as the two teams travel to Mohegan Sun Arena for matchup number eight of the season series. Hershey leads the season set by a 6-1-0-0 count through seven games played.