Penns @ Bears Preview

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (8-2-1-1) vs. Hershey Bears (7-3-2-0)
Giant Center
Friday November 11, 2011

The I-81 rivalry is renewed tonight as the WB/S Penguins invade Giant Center for the fourth meeting between the teams this season and the second of six here at the GC. The last time these two met was one week ago tonight as Joey Mormina potted his first two goals of the season and goaltender Brad Thiessen turned away all 19 shots he faced as the Pens downed the Chocolate & White 4-0 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Season Series:
 Penguins lead 2-1-0-0 

Entering Tonight’s Tilt: 
After the Bears got shutout by the Baby Pens in their only game last weekend, the Bears came out this past Wednesday in front of a sold out crowd at Giant Center and dominated the Binghamton Senators, playing a complete game and shutting the B-Sens out 3-0. Graham Mink potted his third of the year on the power play early in the game, which stood as the game winner. Rookie Garrett Mitchell scored his second of the season later in the first and Boyd Kane got his fourth midway through the second to finish the scoring. Braden Holtby turned away all 15 shots he saw for his first shutout of the season, and first since last January.

After losing four of their first five games, the Baby Pens are red hot. They have registered seven consecutive victories (six of which have come on the road) and are looking to continue their recent dominance of the Bears. They defeated one of their other rivals, the Norfolk Admirals 4-2 at the Scope on Wednesday night. Eric Tangradi potted a pair and Brad Thiessen again picked up the win in between the pipes.

The Ups & Downs & Ins & Outs:
The big news of the week was the trade of forward Francois Bouchard to the New York Rangers for defenseman Tomas Kundratek. Bouchard had struggled this season, going pointless in nine games this season, while Kundratek registered two assists in seven games for the Whale this season. Kundratek, who will wear #34 has reported to Hershey but didn’t suit up against Binghamton on Wednesday night. The Bears also received enforcer D.J. King from the parent Caps this week and he did suit up on Wednesday, playing on the third line with Mattias Sjogren and Garrett Mitchell.

The Baby Pens have been busy lately, releasing forwards Cody Chupp and Matt Rust (both of whom reported to Wheeling of the ECHL), while reassigning tough guy Ryan Schnell to Wheeling. They also received forwards Steve MacIntyre and Dustin Jeffrey on conditioning loan from their parent club, while losing Eric Tangradi to recall.

Players To Watch: 

Photo courtesy Kyle Mace / SHoE

After a breakout year last season, forward Jacob Micflikier (right) is proving he belongs on the top two lines here in Chocolatetown. “Flick” chipped in a pair of assists in the win over Binghamton on Wednesday and is tied for second on the team in scoring.

Another play who had a breakout year last year was forward Bryan Lerg and he has continued that momentum into this season. Known as more of a defense-first forward, Lerg leads the Baby Pens in scoring and on a team not very deep with goal scoring this is ultra important.

Between The Pipes:
According to Mark French, Dany Sabourin will go tonight vs. the Baby Pens, because it is his turn in the rotation.

Although Scott Munroe is due for a start here soon to spell Thiessen, I doubt that will be tonight, given the Pens streak and Thiessen’s shutout last weekend against the Bears.

Injuries & Scratches:

The Bears injury list is still lengthy as forward Matt Ford (upper body) is out for the weekend. Forward Ryan Potulny (sports hernia) is back practicing with the team, although he is wearing a yellow non-contact jersey. Forward Kyle Greentree (arm) is still out long term, while there is good news as defenseman Danny Richmond (upper body) has been cleared for game action and with his return and Kundratek’s acquisition that pushes the number of healthy defenseman to nine so an assignment of one of them to South Carolina could be on the horizon.

The Baby Pens come into tonight’s game relatively healthy. Forward Geoff Walker is injured but isn’t far off from returning, but will not go tonight. Defensemen Boris Valabik (knee) and Brian Straight (elbow) are also hurt but should be returning soon as well.

Road Ahead:
The Bears will finish up their three game home stand this Sunday (11/13) as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers make their first visit to Giant Center this season @ 5 PM.

Leading Scorers: 

Bears

Keith Aucoin – 3g, 17a – 20 pts
Chris Bourque – 6g, 8a – 14 pts
Jacob Micflikier – 5g, 9a – 14 pts

Penguins
Bryan Lerg – 6g, 7a – 13 pts
Brian Gibbons – 3g, 7a – 10 pts
Colin McDonald – 3g, 7a – 10 pts

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