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In Return to Ice, Hershey Splits with Baby Pens, Rockets

BY DON SCOTT

The Hershey Bears returned to action for the first time in more two weeks, and on Saturday scored a 3-2 overtime road win at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Then on Sunday, Hershey dropped a 4-2 decision to the Laval Rockets at Giant Center, in front of 6,035 fans.

Hershey’s last game was November 26, a loss in Rochester, one that was followed by five postponed games due to COVID-19 protocol issues.

The Penguins scored 4:07 into Saturday’s game when Valtteri Puustinen one-timed a Felix Robert pass through the legs of Hershey goaltender Pheonix Copley.

Hershey pulled even at 8:18 of the opening stanza on defenseman Bobby Nardella’s first goal of the season. Mike Vecchione, in the lineup for the first time since Nov. 5, won a faceoff back to Nardella, whose shot beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Tommy Nappier.

In the second period the teams traded goals in a span of less than 30 seconds.

Cody Franson gave Hershey a brief lead at 3:23 with his third goal of the season. On the power play, Hershey won a faceoff and Franson’s slap shot from the left-point gave Hershey a 2-1 edge, with Joe Snively and Moulson assisting on the goal. 

The Penguins needed just 28 seconds to make it a 2-2 contest, asFelix Robert scored his fifth goal of the season on a broken play from the left circle.

The third period was scoreless and the overtime session was coming to a close when Jonsson-Fjallby found the back of the net with just 51 seconds remaining, slamming home a rebound of a Vecchione shot.

It was Hershey’s fourth overtime win of the season and it was also Jonsson-Fjallby’s fourth goal of the season, and his second in overtime this year.

Hershey finished the night a perfect five-for-five on the penalty kill, highlighted by a successful five-on-three kill in the first period. Shots finished 30-30 and Hershey went 1-for-4 on the power play.

Bears Notes:

It was Hershey’s first game since Nov. 26, and the Baby Pens’ first game since Nov. 27, as both teams have had numerous games postponed due to COVID-19 protocol issues. This was also the first of 12 meetings between the two clubs this season, with four more coming this month.

Sunday’s tilt with Laval saw the Bears take 1-0 lead at 10:15 of the first period, as Franson scored for a second consecutive game on a power play, with a shot from just inside the blue line that beat Rocket goaltender Cayden Primeau.

Laval answered at 17:00 on Terrance Amorosa’s first goal of the season, one that also came from just inside the blue line.

Laval scored shorthanded to take a 2-1 lead 1:27 into the middle period, as Gabriel Bourque tallied his third goal of the campaign. Then Alex Alexeyev netted his first goal of the season for the Chocolate and White on a nifty move at the crease at 5:24 to even the score at 2-2.

Mike Vecchione tallied an apparent goal 4:52 into the third period that would have given the Bears a 3-2 lead, but the call was overturned after the video review. 

Following Vecchione’s overturned goal in the third period, Laval was awarded a penalty shot at 7:11 and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard beat Zach Fucale to give Laval a 3-2 lead. Then he scored again at 18:26 for the 4-2 final.

“I’ll get in trouble if I tell my thoughts on the disallowed goal and the penalty shot call,” said Hershey coach Scott Allen. “I’m proud of the way we played after playing an overtime game in Wilkes, with Laval sitting here waiting for us.”

“Starting yesterday, we’re facing eight games in 12 days that includes five games in six days,” continued Allen. “That is certainly not ideal, but that’s the hand we are dealt and we’re going to just chip away at this one day at a time.”

Shots totaled 40-21 Hershey. The Bears finished one-for-five on the power play and two-for-two on the penalty kill.

Bears Notes:

Hershey is 4-2 all-time versus Laval since the Rocket joined the league in 2017-18 and 2-1 at Giant Center. 

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