Minard’s trick, Kennedy’s flip lead Penguins

Chris Minard registered a natural hat trick in his Penguins debut and Tyler Kennedy snapped a 4-4 tie with 4:17 left in regulation as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton opened the 2007-08 AHL season with a 5-4 victory over Hershey on Wednesday night.

Kennedy’s dump-in from neutral ice deflected off the glove of Bears defenseman Sami Lepisto and settled behind goaltender Frederic Cassivi as the game-winning goal. Kennedy also had two assists for a three-point night.

Minard, who scored 32 goals with Lowell last season, scored three times in a span of 8:35 spanning the first two periods, including a pair of power-play goals.

Chris Bourque recorded two goals and an assist and Louis Robitaille had a goal and an assist for the two-time defending Eastern Conference champions from Hershey. Joe Motzko, who hoisted the Stanley Cup with Anaheim four months ago, also scored for the Bears.

Ty Conklin stopped 19 of 23 shots for Wilkes-Barre.

Minard’s hat trick was the second by a Penguins skater on opening night in the last three seasons. Erik Christensen had four goals in the Pens’ 8-1 win over Bridgeport on Oct. 5, 2005.