WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. – A two-goal effort from Aaron Ness was overshadowed by a hat trick from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Carter Rowney, as the hosts hung on for a 5-4 decision over the Hershey Bears on Sunday evening at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
The two teams played one of the wildest offensive periods of the season, as seven goals were racked up in the opening 20 minutes of play. The Penguins started things off just 2:19 into the game when Rowney spun around in the left circle and fired a shot inside the left post past Justin Peters.
Hershey then answered with two to take a 2-1 lead. Tyler Lewington’s shot from the right boards pinballed past goaltender Brian Foster at 4:10, tying the contest. Aaron Ness later fired a bomb from the center point low and inside the right pipe for a power play marker at 7:50.
The Penguins then rattled off three unanswered goals in a span of 6:11 to take a 4-2 advantage. Jean-Sebastien Dea sped down the slot untouched, cut to his right and sent a shot into the far side of the net at 9:42 to knot the score.
Rowney’s second of the game came at the closing portion of a two-man advantage. After the Bears made three nice blocks, the puck slid to Rowney at the top of the left circle. He took a low shot that changed direction off of a Hershey stick and slid past Peters at 12:22 for a 3-2 lead. Dominik Simon then one-timed a perfect cross-ice feed from Matthias Plachta to put the Penguins in front 4-2 at 15:53.
But the Bears would not go quietly. The visitors were also given a lengthy five-on-three power play not long after Simon’s goal. Riley Barber got loose at the net front to chip the rebound of a Chris Bourque blast behind Foster at 17:50, bringing the Bears back within one.
Hershey evened the score at 4:38 of the second period on a nice play by Ness, who perfectly read an outlet pass attempt and intercepted it. From the slot, he fired a low shot that deflected past Foster for his second of the game.
The pace settled down significantly after the goal, and it took only one legitimate play to decide the game. With the Bears working a power play, the puck was poked loose along the right boards. Rowney jumped after it and beat Peters on a breakaway at 19:16.
The goal ended up as the deciding tally, as Peters would deny all 15 third-period shots and Foster scrambled to stop a shot with time expiring with the Bears working a six-on-four power play.
Peters made 28 saves on 33 shots but fell to 12-8-6 on the season. Foster made 18 saves on 22 shots and improved to 2-3-1.
The Bears are now off until next weekend when the team travels to Newfoundland to battle the St. John’s IceCaps on Saturday, March 12 at 6:00 PM and Sunday, March 13 at 2:30 PM. Fans may catch the broadcasts beginning 40 minutes prior to puck drop on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WTKT-AM 1460, WOYK-AM 1350, via the iHeartRadio App (Fox Sports 1460 Harrisburg), and online at FoxSports1460.com. Fans may watch the games for a small fee at AHLLive.com.
The Bears’ next home game is against the Penguins on Sunday, March 20 at 5:00 PM. It’s a Dietz and Watson Dollar Dog Night, and fans may purchase hot dogs for $1 at select concession stands. The Bears will wear special St. Patrick’s Day theme jerseys that will be auctioned off live following the game. Tickets are available at the GIANT Center box office, by phone at 717-508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.