During the first 5 games of the season so far, the Bears played their best in either the first or third periods. The majority of their goals have come in the first period. In Saturday night's home opener against the Pens, it was all about the second period.
The first and third periods displayed a pretty evenly matched yet scrappy game with both teams getting a few chances at both ends. However, it would be the Bears who would take period one with Tim Kennedy and Dane Byers scoring quick back to back goals. Philip Grubauer was tested a bit and his best save came on a breakaway by Jason Megna early on.
Ending the first period, the Bears were definitely in control. And Bobby Farnum and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond tried to get Hershey off its game by chirping at Olesky and Mitchell. These tactics would set the pace for the rest for the second and third.
The Pens came out more poised in the second and got a quick goal less than minute into the period. Wilkes-Barre controlled much of the period in what became choppy play with a bunch of penalties and starts/stops. In addition, the Pens had some really good chances in close around Grubauer and he had to be tough to fight them off. There was certainly some tension with the Bears' play considering what happened in last night's game versus the Phantoms.
But the Bears grabbed the game back with about 5 minutes left in the period when Casey Wellman scored on the power play with a nice tip-in from the slot. It has been mentioned before but Hershey's power play looks really good so far this season. The tape to tape passing is excellent and they're not afraid to move the puck to different areas of the ice to open up different opportunities.
Then with a couple minutes left in the second, Gazley scored on a penalty shot where he turned Pens' goalie Matt Murray inside out with some great stick work. At that point, Giant Center erupted and the Bears went into the third period up 4-1.
The third period was another lesson in discipline for the Bears. Not much happened in the offensive category as Hershey didn't record their first shot of the period until there was only about 3-4 minutes remaining. But the Bears limited Wilkes-Barre's chances and the Pens never really had a chance to get back into the game.
Granted, the chippy-ness all game long finally boiled over when Steve Olesky fought Dominik Uher after Olesky put a big hit on Bobby Farnum behind the Bears' net.
A great home opener to be sure. Now the Bear's will face the Phantoms again and try to get some payback for Friday night's game.