WILKES-BARRE, PA – It was a tale of two streaks Sunday afternoon at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. Facing the Hershey Bears, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins saw one streak end, while another continued. Their Seven game winning streak ended, but Zach Aston-Reese scored midway through the third to assure a point in eight straight games as Hershey prevailed 3-2 in a shootout.
It was the Penguins who got on the board first, as rookie Daniel Sprong scored his eighth of the season just 1:18 into the contest. A Kevin Czuczman point shot found it’s way through traffic and hit the stick of Sprong before popping past Hershey netminder Pheonix Copley.
The Penguins got into penalty trouble, a habit which has been a regular habit early in the season. They gave Hershey three power plays in the first and were lucky to come through unscathed. While they may have killed the penalties, they couldn’t get through the period with the lead.
Wayne Simpson notched his third of the season, beating Casey DeSmith over the glove to tie the game at 17:51. DeSmith committed to going down early, and Simpson tickled the twine into a mostly wide open right side of the net.
The ice tilted deeply in the Bears’ favor in the second, thanks to more Penguins Penalties. Midway through the period, Travis Boyd pulled a move straight out of the Harlem Globetrotters. He skated through three Penguin defenders, and from the bottom of the near circle, beat DeSmith top shelf over the glove.
In the final two minutes of the period, a switch flipped, and the Penguins’ peppered Copley, although they were unable to tie the game.
The third period was a lot more back and forth and evenly played. At 11:39, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tied the game, thanks to some determination. After a dump in by Chris Summers, Aston-Reese and Colin Smith were involved in a board battle. The puck popped out to Aston Reese, who jammed it through Copley in a wrap around.
Hershey dominated the extra session, including a glorious chance from Penguin Killer Chris Bourque, but DeSmith made a ten-Bell glove save to force the skills competition to decide the game.
In the shootout, Simpson converted the first attempt for the Bears, while Copley rejected Jean-Sebastien Dea, Dominik Simon, and Smith, to secure the extra point.
Notes: Forward Christian Thomas departed for Switzerland Sunday, where he’ll participate in the Karjala Cup, a tournament being used as an evaluation period for Canada ahead of the February Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. D Jeff Taylor is out of a no-contact jersey in practice, indicating he could be close to returning from injury. Captain Tom Kostopoulos remained out Sunday, with an unspecified upper-body injury.
3) WBS-Daniel Sprong (Goal)
2) WBS-Zach Aston-Reese (Goal)
1) HER-Wayne Simpson (Goal, Game-Winning Shootout Goal)
Up Next: The Penguins remain on home ice, as they face the Toronto Marlies Wednesday at 7:05 EST.