When the Philadelphia Phantoms’ parent team, the Philadelphia Flyers, were on the verge of winning their first Stanley Cup in 1974, when they called the Spectrum ‘home’, the streaking trend was running rampant. Tonight, however, in possibly the last game played at the same historic venue, it was the Hershey Bears doing the streaking, reeling off six consecutive goals on their way to a 6-2 win over the Phantoms.
With their win, the Bears took a 2-0 lead in the Calder Cup Eastern Division Semifinals, with the series headed back to the Giant Center for games three and four.
The Phantoms struck first and fast, only 53 seconds after the opening faceoff, giving the Phantoms a 1-0 lead when former Bear, Boyd Kane, backhanded a shot behind Hershey netminder, Michal Neuvirth.
Patrick Maroon doubled Philly’s lead at 6:42, gathering in a rebound off the backboards and depositing the puck into Hershey’s cage.
Even though his team was down, Neuvirth didn’t become despondent in the trying situation and proved that he was back on track by making a slick sliding save on Laliberte at 17:10 to keep it a one-goal game entering the second period.
“I just told myself it was a couple bad bounces, and I was trying to stay focused the whole time,” said Neuvirth. “I know I can bounce back from that situation.”
Bears’ captain, Bryan Helmer, demonstrated his leadership by nudging his team back into the game with his first playoff goal since May 16, 2006 with Grand Rapids at the expense of former Bears netminder, Maxime Ouellet.
“When you look at our team, we’ve got a lot of good character guys and a lot of guys who can score goals, so we’re never out of the game,” said Helmer.
Staffan Kronwall’s power play blast at 14:58 of the second period, the only goal of the stanza, tied the score at 2-2.
Hershey penalty kill unit was up to the task early in the third period, preventing the Phantoms from regaining the lead, when Greg Amadio was serving a slashing penalty incurred at 20:00 of the second period.
On their first power play of the third period, Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux, after a couple misfires, eventually guided a missile of a shot by Phantoms’ keeper, Scott Munroe, at 2:27 to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
“If I would have gotten all of the first one, I would have beaten him,” Giroux said. “On the second one, the guy lost his stick and I tried to walk in, and he stopped it. Aucoin and Mink made a great play down low to get me the puck and we finally got it in.”
Shortly after Giroux’s tally, James van Riemsdyk’s shot found it’s way behind Neuvirth, but the rookie goalie somehow swept the puck off the goal line and out of danger to preserve the precarious one-goal lead.
Matthieu Perreault put the game out of reach for the Phantoms with his unassisted strike at 13:52, after going end-to-end.
“I just got the puck behind my net and skated up the ice like I like to do,” Perreault said. “I saw the open space and in the playoffs, you try to shoot as much as you can, and I shot at the net and scored.”
Steve Pinizzotto’s empty net goal and Francois Bouchard’s power play goal provided the icing on the cake for the Bears, and ensured them a comfortable margin of victory.
Helmer, a veteran that has seen many playoff situations, while happy with the result of the game and his contribution to the triumph, kept his emotions in check.
“When I can chip in offensively, it’s a good night and it’s nice; but it’s a long way from being over.”
More By John Sparenberg
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