The Hershey Bears skated to a fourth consecutive win on Sunday in a physical battle with the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, that saw the Bears score 18 seconds into the game and at 19:53 in the final period to close out the 3-1 victory.
In Friday’s 3-1 road victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Hershey was a perfect seven-for-seven on the penalty kill and goalie Zach Fucale made 30 saves to extend the Penguins’ losing streak to six (0-4-2-0) and keep them winless in five straight home games.
The Bears held a 1-0 lead through two periods on Philippe Maillet’s breakaway score at 13:21 of the first period. Kale Kessy came out of the penalty box and fed Maillet at the blue line and his shot beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Alex D’Orio.
Jordy Bellerive pulled the Penguins even at 1:34 of the third period, sliding a shot through the pads of Fucale to make it 1-1, with his sixth goal of the season.
Matt Moulson’s power-play goal gave the Bears a 2-1 lead on Hershey’s fourth man-advantage of the game, at 10:03. Maillet sent a cross-crease pass to Moulson, who netted his fifth goal of the season, which became the eventual game-winner.
Kody Clark closed out the scoring at 18:55 with an empty net goal for the win that improved Fucale’s record to 5-1-0.
In Sunday’s tilt, a season-high Giant Center crowd of 1,301 fans saw Brian Pinho deflect Martin Fehervary’s point shot past Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Max Lagace, just 18-seconds into the contest for the quick 1-0 Hershey lead.
Midway through the middle period, the Penguins tied the game on Tim Schaller’s shot that eluded Pheonix Copley, on a perfect pass to the right wing circle by Nick Schilkey.
There were a couple no-call penalties that Hershey coach Spencer Carbery talked about in his post-game comments that could have changed things prior to Hershey eventually regaining the lead.
“I’m not saying at least one of them was a blatant or dirty play, but that’s the way I saw it where there could’ve been a call in my opinion,” said Carbery.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the final stanza, but it took a power-play opportunity at 15:34, when the Penguins were whistled for too many men on the ice, for the Bears to regain the lead.
During a scramble in the crease, Lagace thought he had covered the puck at the side of the cage but Moulson was able to find it and shove it over the goal line, at 16:53 for his second game-winner in the last two games.
“I told the guys Wilkes will never hand them a thing the rest of their career, whether it is with Hershey or any other team in the league,” Carberry said. “You always have to dig in on every shift and I felt they did that tonight in a playoff-type game with the outcome hanging in the balance.”
Exactly three minutes after Moulson’s goal, Shane Gersich made it a 3-1 final with an empty net goal at 19:53.
Pheonix Copley earned the win in goal for the Bears, stopping 26 shots. Hershey outshot the Penguins 30-27, and the Bears went 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Penguins were 0-for-3.
Pheonix Copley recorded his 64th win in a Hershey uniform. One more will tie him with Ed Chadwick for 10th on the Hershey All-time list.
The Washington Capitals have re-signed goaltender Zach Fucale to a two-year, two-way contract. He has posted a 5-1-0 record with a 1.49 goals against average, the best in the AHL, while his save percentage ranks third in the league.
The Bears do not play Utica this season, but then other teams in the North Division aren’t either. To date the Comets have played nine games, the least amount in the AHL, and had its Saturday and Sunday games this weekend postponed.
Hershey returns to action on Wednesday when they visit the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.