Trailing 3-0 in the third period on Wednesday night, the Hershey Bears (23-8-3-1) forced overtime with a three-goal rally that included two goals from Mike Sgarbossa. But ultimately Hershey fell 4-3 to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (17-10-2-3) at Giant Center.
With the loss, the Bears now sport a record of 5-3-2-0 against the Penguins through 10 games, with two regular-season contests remaining between the I-81 rivals.
Jonathan Gruden opened the scoring for the Pens exactly four minutes into the second period when he deflected Mitch Reinke’s point shot past the glove of Hershey goalie Hunter Shepard.
Lukas Svejkovsky beat Shepard on a backhand breakaway shot at 12:53 to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead and Raivis Ansons tallied a shorthanded goal at 14:20 to make it 3-0.
Sgarbossa, playing in his 500th career American Hockey League game, collected his 12th of the season with Hershey on the power play at 4:40 of the third stanza to get the hosts on the board. Ethen Frank and Mike Vecchione picked up the helpers.
Vincent Iorio moved Hershey to within one at 14:39, when he made his way to the net through a maze of bodies before deking to his backhand and beating Gauthier for his second of the season. Mason Morelli and Garrett Pilon assisted on the goal.
Sgarbossa made it 3-3 at 19:35, with Shepard pulled for an extra skater when he one-timed a Bobby Nardella feed past Gauthier from the right circle. Joe Snively earned the secondary assist.
That point extended a home point-scoring streak for Snively dating back to Nov. 14, 2021, to 15 games (9g, 22a), moving him past Alexandre Giroux for sole possession of a new franchise mark.
“It wasn’t pretty until we got that power play goal in the third period because the guys were turning pucks over then there was a great effort for the second goal because they followed the six-on-five plan, but overall, this was one of our worst games,” said Hershey coach Todd Nelson.
In the overtime, the Penguins scored on their first shot of the extra frame when Gruden redirected a centering pass from Reinke behind Shepard 29 seconds in for the game-winner.
Shots finished 26-23 in favor of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The Bears were 1-for-3 on the power play, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton went 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
Hershey hosts the Springfield Thunderbirds at Giant Center on Friday, Jan. 13 and Saturday the 14th.
Sam Anas underwent a successful abdominal surgery on Jan. 6 and will be out indefinitely.
Ethen Frank and Mike Vecchione have been selected for the 2023 AHL All-Star Classic on Feb. 5-6, at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec.