This weekend’s home and home series against the Hershey Bears reminds Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins winger Bobby Farnham of his college days at Brown University.
Back then, Farnham said, once each season Brown squared off against rival Yale in back-to-back contests.
“It was the most heated part of the season when you play a team twice in a row like that,” Farnham said.
It will be just as heated when the Penguins host the Bears tonight at the Mohegan Sun Arena before traveling to Hershey on Saturday for a rematch. The Penguins will take on a Bears team that has struggled this season, winning only two of their first six contests.
But it’s also a Hershey team that came to life in its last game - a 4-2 win over Norfolk in which the Bears outshot their opponents 38-19.
It’s a team that the Penguins know well, and they aren’t taking lightly.
“We have a big rivalry against Hershey no matter if it’s one game or two,” said goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who will start in net tonight for the Penguins. “Players will step up on both teams.”
Tonight’s meeting marks the second of 12 meetings against the Bears this season. The Penguins won the home opener over Hershey 3-1 on Oct. 12. In that contest, Chris Conner scored the game-winning goal late in the third period to break a 1-1 tie.
Tonight, the Penguins hope to gain the lead earlier and set the tone for the two-game set.
“You want their team to know that they’re in for a tough two games right from that first shift,” Farnham said. “It’s important to get off to that good start and build off it.”
The last two games for the Penguins - both losses - have been against East Division opponents, and head coach John Hynes described them as intense and hard-fought. He expects the same against Hershey, with a few other elements adding to the mix.
“With back-to-back games you know what you’re going into. You have your mind set on one opponent and it’s always a great rivalry,” he said. “Fans from both teams travel to each arena and the fact it’s two games makes it more interesting.”
- Several of the players from the New England area were in good spirits on Thursday after watching their hometown Boston Red Sox win the World Series over St. Louis the night before. Farnham sported a Red Sox hat after practice in the locker room and said he stayed up late to watch the entire game. “It was great for the city, especially with what happened at the Boston Marathon,” said Farnham, who grew up 20 minutes from Boston. “The entire city rallied around them and it was pretty cool to see them win it at home.”