HERSHEY, Pa. – Six different players scored goals, 15 of 18 Hershey Bears skaters found the scoresheet and Mike Haviland and Ryan Mougenel were victorious in their pre-season coaching debuts in a 6-0 victory over the Utica Comets in Friday night’s pre-season opener at GIANT Center.
Hershey got on the board first with Australian forward Nathan Walker doing the honors. Off of a drop pass from Jeff Taffe, Walker unleashed a slapper that rose into the throat guard of Comets goaltender Joe Cannata. The puck deflected down and trickled over the goal line at 3:51 for a 1-0 Bears lead. Defenseman Patrick Wey earned the secondary assist.
The hosts increased their lead to 2-0 after killing off Utica’s first power play. With forward Josh Brittain stationed at the net front and a Utica defenseman covering, Matt Watkins had room to walk in from the right corner and send a hard pass toward the crease. The puck deflected off of Brittain and through Cannata’s legs at 15:04.
The Bears later embarked on a lengthy two-man power play advantage and generated chances immediately. The best opportunity came when Brandon Segal worked himself into position at the bottom of the left circle, collected a cross-ice pass from Taffe and let a wrist shot go. Cannata lunged over and trapped the shot high between his shoulder and arm.
But Cannata wasn’t able to get his skate back toward the right post when Peter LeBlanc’s sharp-angle slap shot caromed in off of the goaltender’s skate at 16:38. The Bears opened up a 3-0 lead on the goal, with Chay Genoway and Stan Galiev earning the assists.
The Comets earned several power play chances in the second period and outshot the Bears 7-3 in a scoreless frame, but the Bears penalty kill stood tall and allowed the three-goal lead to stand. The Bears had a great opportunity to open up the game even more when Segal had a breakaway from the blue line, but his shot deflected wide of Cannata’s net with 4:40 left in the period.
Hershey would earn a power play to start the final frame after Utica forward John Armstrong checked Cameron Schilling into the end boards at the buzzer that ended the second. The Comets would kill off the advantage, allowing just one shot on the power play.
But on a Louis Liotta hooking minor, Hershey would get their fourth goal on a nice backhand shot from in close by forward Derek Whitmore at 5:08. LeBlanc and Genoway were credited with the helpers.
The Bears opened up a 5-0 lead when a shot from Segal was padded into the low slot by Cannata. From there, the puck banked off of a stationary Tyler Ruegsegger and into the net, with help from Ryan Stoa.
Hershey rounded out the scoring when a dump-in took a bounce off of a glass support and ended up in front of the net. Jamie Johnson took the first opportunity, and Garrett Mitchell finished the job by sliding a shot off of the right post and into the net with 2:37 left to play. Julien Brouillette earned the secondary assist.
Goaltender David Leggio went the distance and stopped all 25 shots he faced for the shutout. Cannata turned aside 24 of 30 Hershey shots in suffering his first setback.
The Bears improve to 1-0-0-0 in pre-season, while Utica falls to 0-2-0-0.
The Bears will continue their pre-season schedule tomorrow at 7:00 PM when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins visit GIANT Center. Tickets are $12.00 and are general admission.
Season tickets for the 2013-14 Hershey Bears regular season are on sale now by calling (717) 508-BEAR. Many different flexible plans are available and start as low as $165.
NOTES: The Bears’ lone healthy scratch was forward T.J. Syner…Hershey finished the night 2-for-7 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill…Former Bears assistant coach and player Paul Jerrard is now behind the bench as Comets assistant coach.