04/04/2009 - BEARS SLIDE BY PENGUINS 3-2 SATURDAY IN A SHOOTOUT
By: John Walton
HERSHEY and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton staged an epic late season battle Saturday night, with the BEARS edging the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout at Wachovia Arena.
In the biggest game of the year to date in 2008-09, the BEARS looked to their MVP candidate Alexandre Giroux to lead. Giroux picked up two first period goals Saturday, his 56th and 57th goals of the season to lift the Chocolate and White to a 2-0 advantage after one.
Neither team would score in the second, and the BEARS took a two goal advantage to the final 20 minutes. The Penguins would rally late to tie the game, starting with Paul Bissonette's seventh goal of the season at 14:21. With goaltender John Curry pulled for an extra attacker, Mark Letestu tied the game with a goal with 3.2 seconds left in regulation. Through regulation, HERSHEY goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 39 saves on 41 shots, but the two clubs went to sudden death overtime. After a scoreless overtime, the BEARS prevailed in the shootout to bolster its position atop the East Division standings. HERSHEY has 104 points with three games remaining, Bridgeport has 100 with three left and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has 99 with four games to go.
Notes: HERSHEY is off until Friday when the team travels to Philadelphia to close the Spectrum. Face-off in the final regular season game ever at the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue is 7:05 p.m. The BEARS will play three games in three nights next weekend to close out the 2008-09 regular season, hosting Philly and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton next weekend. Call (717) 534-3911 for ticket information. Chris Bourque, who missed Friday's game in Bridgeport attending his grandfather's funeral, rejoined the HERSHEY lineup just prior to the opening face-off.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Michal Neuvirth (40 save effort to earn the win)
2. Alexandre Giroux (56th and 57th goals of the season
3. Chris Bourque (Two assists in his return to the lineup)