04/12/2009 - BEARS PECKED BY PENGUINS
Giroux Reaches 60 Goals in Loss
By Jess Mikula
The Chocolate and White exchanged a barrage of goals with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in its final game of the 2008-09 regular season but failed to forge a late rally, falling by a score of 5-4 Sunday night. Alexandre Giroux scored twice in the regulation loss to finish the regular season with 60 goals and 97 points.
The BEARS and Penguins exchanged a series of icing calls in the opening minutes of play. Neither team found the back of the net in the first period, though Giroux came close. With HERSHEY on the man advantage, Giroux fired a shot from the top of the right circle, the puck tipping the crossbar on its way over the net. Making his professional debut, Joe Finley, a 6-foot-7, 21-year-old out of the University of North Dakota, dropped the gloves with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Paul Bissonnette midway through the period. The score was deadlocked at 0-0 after one.
The Penguins got on the board first with a power play tally from Luca Caputi at the 2:00 mark of the second period, assisted by Jean-Michel Daoust and Bill Thomas. HERSHEY answered as Andrew Joudrey potted his seventh goal of the season at 3:26, with Travis Morin adding the lone assist in his first appearance with the Chocolate and White this season. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton struck again at 4:54, as Thomas went five-hole on HERSHEY netminder Daren Machesney, fed by Caputi and Lane Caffaro. Giroux provided the equalizer just 34 seconds later, netting his 59th of the year from Keith Aucoin at 5:28. It seemed that Francois Bouchard had scored near the midway point of the period, but referee Terry Koharski signaled no goal. In the closing seconds of a power play late in the period, Bouchard did find the score sheet. He went top shelf on Baby Pens goaltender Adam Berkhoel, burying the puck for his 15th goal of the season at 19:02. Andrew Gordon and Kyle Wilson added the helpers. The BEARS carried a 3-2 lead to the dressing room after 40 minutes of play.
The visitors scored three unanswered goals to open the third period. Janne Pesonen notched a goal from Mark Letestu at 1:45 and added a power play tally at 5:07, assisted by Andy Wozniewski. Nick Johnson rounded out scoring for the Penguins, recording an even-strength goal from Letestu and Pesonen at 17:16. Giroux fired back to overcome the two-goal deficit with his league-leading 60th goal of the season at 18:49, as Aucoin and Chris Bourque recorded the helpers. However, the late heroics from the home team would prove to be too little too late, as the BEARS fell 5-4.
Daren Machesney suffered his 12th loss in net this season, making 25 saves on 30 shots. HERSHEY out-shot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 34-30 and went 1-for-6 on the power play.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Alexandre Giroux (two goals)
2. Janne Pesonen (two goals and one assist)
3. Keith Aucoin (two assists)
Notes: Keith Aucoin was sent down Sunday morning after a seven-game stint with the Washington Capitals, in which he registered two goals and three assists. Joe Finley made his professional hockey debut in HERSHEY Sunday night. Travis Morin was recalled from the South Carolina Stingrays Sunday, playing in his first AHL game of the 2008-09 season. The BEARS will face the Philadelphia Phantoms in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, with the complete schedule of games yet to be released.