The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, despite the efforts of Hershey goaltender Dany Sabourin who was outstanding in net for a second consecutive game, swept their two-game weekend exhibition series over the Hershey Bears and downed the home team at Giant Center on Saturday night, 2-1.
Hershey was making their pre-season home debut and roared out of the gate; they mustered the first six shots of the game against Pens’ netminder Scott Munroe and garnered a 1-0 lead on a pretty backhanded shot by Matt Pope only 1:31 into the contest. Pope’s goal was assisted by his linemates, Keith Aucoin and Graham Mink.
Immediately after Pope’s potting, the Penguins made huge strides in closing the shot differential by notching eight consecutive shots on Sabourin. Included among those eight salvos was a penalty shot attempt by WBS’ Chris Barton at 13:56 that was snuffed out by Sabourin, who repelled the bid by kicking it out in a razor like fashion with his right pad. Sabourin stopped all eight shots he faced in the first period as the Bears took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period was more of the same for the Bears in the early going, minus the goal, as the home club registered the first five shots on net before Barton stemmed that tide by putting a point blank shot on Sabourin, who squashed Barton’s bid. Barton was the catalyst of another Penguins quality chance later in the stanza when he spearheaded a two-on-one break with Brian Gibbons. Gibbons took the shot on net only to have Sabourin make a sparkling save to preserve Hershey’s one-goal lead heading into the third period.
Altering their strategy in the early going of the final frame, the Pens tied the game at one when Ben Street came down the center avenue and then proceeded to skillfully slide a puck between Sabourin’s right pad and the right post.
With less than three minutes left in regulation, Gibbons went solo into the Bears’ zone and backhanded a shot by the glove of Sabourin at 16:39 to give the Penguins the win.
Notes: The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed AHL sniper Alexandre Giroux on waivers, but it’s highly unlikely that the Bears/Caps will have any interest in the former Bear, primarily due to their already abundant supply of veterans.
Hershey defenseman Zach Miskovic was injured midway through the second period on a hit by Zach Sill that drew blood from the facial area. Miskovic never returned to the game and Sill was given a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure by referee Ryan Fraser for the hit.
Munroe, who played his college hockey at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and has been the losing goaltender in playoff series against the Bears while patrolling the pipes for the Philadelphia Phantoms and Bridgeport Sound Tigers, finished the game with 34 saves while Sabourin finished with 23 stops.
Pope was among a group of Bears who was assigned to their ECHL affiliate, The South Carolina Stingrays after the game.