The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins went more than six minutes before getting a shot on goal, but never put any later ones past golatender Pheonix Copley in Hershey’s Sunday 2-0 victory. With the win, the Bears improved to 5-1-0-0 against the Penguins.
Aliaksei Protas’ first American Hockey League goal, at 12:14 of the opening period, also ended up as the game-winner.
Joe Snively poked the puck free from two Wilkes-Barre/Scranton defenders to Protas, who sent a shot past Penguins’ goalie Max Lagace to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Brett Leason’s assist gave him helpers in three straight games.
Copley earned his fourth straight win and his first shutout of the season with 21 saves that included several strong ones, as he improved to 6-2-1 on the season. The perfect performance was his 12th shutout of his AHL career, and his first since Feb. 7, 2020 versus Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“He didn’t see much action early, but in the second half of the game I thought they carried the majority of the play and we needed him to bail us out a few times,” Hershey coach Spencer Carbery said about the play of Copley. “He has been excellent maybe the last six starts, and gets a lot of credit for this win tonight.”
In the third period the Penguins thought they tied the contest on a power play, with 12:30 remaining on a Jordy Bellerive shot, but veteran referee Terry Koharski was in his position behind the net and waved off the score keeping the score 1-0.
The game was also delayed for several minutes when a puck went into the off-ice area and struck the game time clock operator who was replaced by another crew member and did return to finish the game.
Brian Pinho closed out the win for Hershey with an empty-net power play goal at 19:48.
Shots finished 22-21 in favor of the Bears, who went one-for-five on the power play, while the Penguins were zero-for-four.
Hershey totaled a season-high 33 penalty minutes, including 27 by Kale Kessy, after he fought Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s Kyle Olson in the second period.
Coach Spencer’s reaction to Kessy’s fight was, “He gets our team going and when he is on the ice he makes things happen because he is physical and gets everyone up on the bench. For lack of a better term, and I don’t mean this literally, he drags people into the fight and just gets everyone involved, and is just the ultimate teammate.”
Copley’s eighth Hershey shutout is one less than Peter Budaj’s ten, which is ninth all-time for the Bears. His 66th win is two less than Claude Dufor, who is number ten on the list.
Hershey has scored the first goal of the game 15 times and is 11-2-2 when it does.