The Peerless had the opportunity to take in Game 3 of the East Division final of the Calder Cup playoff tournament Saturday night. The Hershey Bears visited the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins looking to take a “commanding” – as they say – three-games-to-none lead in the series. Having won the first two games by scores of 4-3 (the second in overtime after spotting the Penguins a 3-0 lead), the matter hardly seemed assured. So, The Peerless was anticipating a close, hard-fought (even with Dennis Bonvie not dressed for the Penguins) battle.
Giant Arena at
Shortly after the second Penguin power play was killed, the Penguins made a mistake. Defenseman Micki DuPont, instead of moving the puck to his partner, tried to escape the forecheck of Alexandre Giroux. DuPont turned the puck over, and Giroux fed Matt Hendricks for a one-timer past Penguin goalie Nolan Schaefer.
The Bears celebrated by taking four more minor penalties in the period, killing them all. The Penguins – despite the five power plays – finished the period with six shots on goal.
The second period was more of the same – Hershey penalties followed by missed opportunities (or more accurately, opportunities not taken) by the Penguins, and then an opportunistic goal by the Bears. Quintin Laing found Schaefer’s five-hole at 13:16 of the period, and after that the Bears relied on stifling defense and really bad ice to frustrate the Penguins.
The third period was played largely between the blue lines, although the Penguins managed to register a few inconsequential shots on goal late to finish with 19 in the 2-0 loss.
Neither team looked especially sharp, perhaps understandable after having logged a double-overtime game the night before. However, 19 shots for a club received ten power plays is nothing but hideous.
For the Bears, Frederic Cassivi did what a goalie has to do – make all the saves he should make and a few he perhaps shouldn’t (there were few of the latter). Dave Steckel was a man among boys in the defensive end. Mike Green played a solid game. Chris Bourque was a bundle of energy all night, but often seemed unable to channel it into anything productive. He looked like a player who needs another year at this level, but one who also has a future in the NHL.
The Peerless really likes these occasional journeys to the land of the AHL.
Whether that will hold true for the “Baby Penguins” next year is an open question. As the Oiler prospects that dot that club move on to
In the meantime, though, these are games to be enjoyed and the Bears a team to be followed closely. They have the look of a club that knows how to play and, more importantly at this time of year, how to play when the stakes are higher. If you have a chance to see them in person, by all means take advantage of that opportunity.