HERSHEY — The Hershey Bears closed out the 2017-18 regular season in a 3-2 loss against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Sunday at Giant Center in front of a crowd of 10,429. Dustin Gazley and Jeremy Langlois were the goal scorers for the Chocolate and White in the losing effort.
Daniel Sprong finished the season as the leading goal scorer among American Hockey League rookies, and he grabbed his 32nd tally of the season at 10:32 of the opening period to make it 1-0 Penguins. Sprong beat Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek blocker side on a quick snipe from the left face-off circle. The goal came on the Pens' first power play attempt of the night after Jonas Siegenthaler was called for an interference minor.
Wilkes-Barre would strike once more at 19:41 to grab a 2-0 lead at first intermission. Jarrett Burton capitalized following an offensive zone turnover by the Bears and countered on a quick offensive rush.
In danger of entering the third period in a multi-goal deficit, Gazley put Hershey on the board in the period's final minute. Gazley buried a centering feed in the slot after Wayne Simpson pounced on a loose puck behind the net at 19:28.
In the third period, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's Gage Quinney added an insurance tally at 6:15 on the rebound following a shot from Sprong.
The Bears again pulled within one in the later stages on a power play goal of their own. Langlois finished a passing play and deposited the puck past Pens' goaltender Anthony Peters at 16:32. With Vanecek pulled in favor of the extra attacker, the Bears were unable to find the equalizer and fell to the Penguins.
Hershey finishes their season with a 30-37-4-5 record. The Bears failed to make the post-season for only the 13th time in the franchise's history. Hershey's 8th place finish in the Atlantic Division marked the first time the Bears have finished in last place in their division since the 1983-84 season.