WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Paul Thompson scored with 4:29 left in regulation, capping a four-goal comeback and sending the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 4-3 victory over the HERSHEY BEARS on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
After both teams played back and forth with few stoppages, the BEARS ended up getting the jump late in the opening frame. With the fourth line working in the offensive zone, Patrick Wellar dumped the puck toward the slot where Andrew Carroll collected it. After taking the body, Carroll let the puck slide behind him to Garrett Mitchell, who beat Brad Thiessen with a wrist shot over the glove at 14:59. The BEARS would earn a power play after scoring but were unsuccessful and held the 1-0 lead at the intermission.
The visitors took a 2-0 lead in the second period after newly-acquired forward Mike Carman pushed a pass down the right wing. Jacob Micflikier caught it and dragged the bouncing puck all the way to the goal crease, where Christian Hanson stood to finish the job by sliding it under Thiessen’s pads at 6:43.
Not long after, Chris Bourque led a rush down the right wing, held the puck and fired a shot off of Thiessen’s pads. The rebound kicked out to Micflikier who was also denied with a good pad stop, but the third chance was buried by Tomas Kundratek at 10:50 and gave the BEARS a 3-0 lead that they held at the second intermission.
The Penguins then began their comeback in the third. With a delay of game penalty whistled on Holtby and a crosschecking call on Kevin Marshall, the Penguins earned a two-man advantage. Jason Williams started the offense by slapping a blast through traffic and over Holtby’s blocker at 1:58.
Brandon DeFazio cut the BEARS’ lead to 3-2 when his wrist shot sailed through a screen and over Holtby’s glove at 3:51. Robert Bortuzzo then tied the score at 3-3 when he rushed toward a puck that Holtby directed toward the right half wall. He turned and sent a shot on goal that found its way into the net at 4:46.
Dany Sabourin came on in relief of Holtby after the goal, and had to make two quick stops early in his action. But with time winding down, Thompson one-timed a pass from Ben Street from the top of the crease into the net, giving the hosts a 4-3 lead.
With less than one minute remaining, Bortuzzo was called for closing his hand on the puck, allowing the BEARS to get Sabourin to the bench and skate six-on-four. The BEARS nearly tied the game when Thiessen kicked a rebound of Micflikier’s shot right to a charging Patrick McNeill, but his chance sailed over a nearly empty net with less than ten seconds left.
Sabourin, who allowed the game-winning goal, was tagged with the tough loss and stopped three of four shots in 14:42 of action. Holtby turned aside 18 of 21 in 44:44 of work and earned no decision. Thiessen improved to 18-12-2, making 23 saves.
The BEARS now sit three points out of first place in the East Division, with a record of 25-13-4-3.
The BEARS return to GIANT Center tomorrow, February 4 for a 7:00 PM matchup against the Connecticut Whale. The game is sold out, with only limited standing room areas remaining.
Some seats remain for the BEARS second matchup of the weekend against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday, February 5 at 2:00 PM. Individual tickets for this and all regular-season home games are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or by visiting ticketmaster.com.