By: John Sparenberg
Thanksgiving is a traditional time of the year when a host usually serves up a bountiful meal for their visitors, and that is precisely what the Hershey Bears did on Wednesday night at Giant Center. The Bears dished up five tasty second period power plays to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins which led to a pair of power play goals that catapulted the visitors to a 4-0 victory.
Zatkoff and his Hershey counterpart Braden Holtby, who was appearing in his 150th professional game, combined to stop all 13 shots they faced in the fast-paced, evenly- played first period, with Holtby making stellar stops on Bobby Farnham on a two-on-one early and then denying Philippe Dupuis’ rebound attempt in the closing minutes. Meanwhile, Zatkoff made his best stop of the frame in the closing minutes by denying Mathieu Beaudoin’s bid from close range.
Early in the middle stanza, the Bears had the ice tilted in their favor as they applied solid pressure on Zatkoff in the opening moments, but that advantage and momentum quickly dissipated when a string of penalties led to a pair of quick power play strikes just over a minute apart by Beau Bennett and Simon Despres.
Bennett’s goal was a billiard shot type that was actually a centering pass apparently intended for Trevor Smith heading down the slot, but instead of finding Smith, the puck caromed off of the skate of Hershey defensemen Steve Oleksy and then behind Holtby at 4:28.
A short time later, with Garrett Stafford sitting in the sin bin for a questionable roughing call that was successfully sold to referee Mark Lemelin by Farnham, the visitors padded their cushion to 2-0 when Despres’ wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle eluded Holtby.
The Bears had a glimmer of hope entering the final frame on a power play. However, just over a minute in, Tomas Kundratek’s attempted pass to his defensive partner Garrett Stafford along the blueline was intercepted by Benn Ferriero. Ferriero then proceeded in alone on Holtby on a shorthanded breakaway. Although Holtby was able to get his glove on the shot, it still managed to eventually cross the goal line which gave the Pens a 3-0 lead that crushed the Bears’ hopes of a comeback in the process.
Washington Capitals’ General Manager George McPhee and Caps’ assistant coach Tim Hunter attended the game.
Tonight’s game was the 140th meeting between the clubs. With the loss, the Bears fell to 69-60-11 in the all-time series.
The next meeting in the twelve-game season series between the Keystone State rivals will be on Friday, December 7th, at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Bears scratches were Patrick McNeill, Matt Pope and Julien Brouillette, all healthy, as well as Ryan Stoa, and Jonathon Kalinski, both injured.