WILKES-BARRE, PA- Hershey has been starving for points any way they can get them. The Penguins sitting atop the American Hockey League in the standings had little sympathy. After a close first period, things got out of hand early in the second and Wilkes-Barre never looked back to trounce Hershey 5-1 at home.
Initially it was brief stints of fire wagon hockey that were caked around shifts of complete puck control. Wilkes-Barre broke tie in its second powerplay of the night. Noted killer Tom Sestito was at it again. Carter Rowney drew all four Bears penalty killers towards him as he entered the Hershey zone. Rowney passed out to Tom Kostopoulos to spread the penalty killers out. This left Sestito open and his shot was on the money for Carter Rowney to deflect past Vitek Vanecek. The Penguins carried the 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period began with a play that has been a microcosm of the Bears play during this nine game rough patch. Tyler Lewington tried to go to his D partner Aaron Ness but the puck bounced right to Dominik Simon. Simon found Jean-Sebastien Dea in front and he beat a stunned Vanecek for the 2-0 lead 1:13 into the frame.
The Penguins weren’t done yet. Hershey had a good response and created a couple of odd man rushes. They failed to connect and led to a rush for the Penguins. Teddy Blueger fed Ryan Haggerty in front to extend the lead to 3-0.
Already short on defenders with Madison Bowey injured, Hershey suffered a huge loss mid second. While on the penalty kill, Lewington laid out to block a shot which he did successfully. Unfortunately for Lewington, it took a big bite out of him. He couldn’t put any weight on his leg and had to be helped off the ice and to the room.
Down their top line defender, the night would get even worse for Hershey. Ryan Haggerty picked up a loose puck at the point, walked in and beat Vanecek glove side to make it 4-0. Tough to fault Vanecek for the deficit but regardless, his night was done and Joe Cannata entered the game.
Hershey finally got on the board early in the third. After an offensive zone faceoff win by Brad Malone, Christian Thomas tried to get the puck on net. The shot was partially blocked but the puck bounced to Christian Djoos. Djoos’ shot hit Casey Desmith but Zach Sanford there to pot the rebound to end the shutout.
Any momentum from the goal was quickly quelled by the Penguins as Tom Kostopoulos capitalized on a Hershey turnover to make it 5-1. The Bears are now 2-6-3 since losing Madison Bowey.
The Bears mounted a little bit of a push but could never find another answer. Once again the puck luck wasn’t there and the Penguins were clearly the better team. If Lewington can’t go, it is likely that new comer from ECHL South Carolina Steve Weinstein will enter the lineup for the Bears this afternoon. Weinstein is the Stingrays leading scoring defender with 19 points in 32 games.
Hershey will have to have instant amnesia as they host Lehigh Valley at home. The opening faceoff is set for 5 this evening.