By Don Scott
The Hershey Bears needed just 62 seconds to take a 1-0 lead over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the home opener at Giant Center on Saturday night, but when the final buzzer sounded it was the Penguins who claimed a 4-3 victory.
Rookie defenseman Alex Alexeyev, in his first pro game and on his initial shot, took a pass from Garrett Pilon, and beat goaltender Casey DeSmith for the quick 1-0 lead.
The Penguins bounced back with a pair of first period markers to grab a 2-1 edge, on goals by Jake Lucchini at 6:45 and Stefan Noesen six minutes later. The Bears tied the game at 2-2 on another goal on another shot by defenseman Christian Djoos that beat DeSmith at 15:35 from the left face-off circle.
Noesen added his second goal of the night for the second period’s only tally to give the visitors a 3-2 edge going into the final period.
In the third period, seconds after a successful Pens penalty kill, Anthony Angello jumped out of the sin bin and beat Vitek Vanecek for the eventual game-winner, at 4:20.
Trailing 4-2 late in the contest, the Bears went on their fifth power play at 17:15, and with Vanecek on the bench for a 6-on-4 advantage, Matt Moulson tapped in his first goal as a Bear, at 18:41 to make it a 4-3 deficit that extended Hershey’s Opening Night home losses to four games, dating back to Oct. 14, 2016.
Hershey is now 4-5-2-0 in their last 11 Opening Nights.
The Bears had a 39-30 shot advantage and were 1-for-5 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Sunday the Providence Bruins visit Giant Center for a 5 p.m. start that is Hersheypark Pass night, when all fans will receive a free park pass.