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  • East Division Finals vs. Pens Game 6

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    The Hershey Bears, facing a must-win situation on Sunday evening at Giant Center, responded magnificently to the challenge when they shut out the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, 3-0.

    The whitewash was the Penguins first game without scoring a goal since their contest with the Albany River Rats on March 21, 2008.

    Bears’ goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, who politely declined to comment after the game, citing illness as the reason, let his actions do the talking during the game, stopping all 30 shots fired in his direction, including a pair of dandies in the middle portion of the second period from Nick Johnson and Bill Thomas.

    After an initial early feeling-out sequence that featured plenty of action, but no finishing, Andrew Gordon gave the Bears a 1-0 lead at 11:35 of the opening period. Gordon, with his linemate, Chris Bourque, created congestion in the crease area, and patiently waited for Pens’ netminder, Adam Berkhoel, to commit before depositing a wrist shot behind him.

    “The defenseman that was originally on me went down and forced Wilson, and Bourque was sort of tied up in front,” said Gordon, whose goal was his third of the playoffs. “I knew if I could get to that far post, Bourque had net side on him, so he was blocking him out a little bit. When I got the puck from Wilson, I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to get this up top’.”

    Early in the second period, Darren Reid, used primarily in a defensive role by Woods in the regular season, eluded the grasp of former Bears’ defenseman, Deryk Engelland, then used a sweet backahand-to-forehand move to best Berkhoel at 22 seconds.

    The line of Darren Reid, Andrew Joudrey, and Steve Pinizzotto played a pivotal role in getting the Bears off to a good start in each of the three periods. Hershey head coach, Bob Woods, who, thanks to getting the last line change due to being on home ice, expertly exercised his power to put specific personnel on the ice, explained that the matchup was exactly what he had intended.

    “They were playing against the guys we had them scheduled to play against,” said Woods. “Whoever they started, we knew who we were starting, and that’s who it worked out with. Those three are probably good guys to start your period. They’re going to be energy, they’re going to get pucks deep, they’re going to cycle, they’re going to bang, and usually good things happen from that; it’s contagious.”

    Referee, Frederic L’Ecuyer, who did not call any penalties in the first period, whistled the Pens’ Nick Johnson off the ice at 2:09, giving the Bears the first power play of the game. With Johnson in the “joint” doing his time, Alexandre Giroux beat Berkhoel with a wraparound power play goal at 3:11 to give the Bears a 3-0 lead.

    “I didn’t think about the goalie or anything,” Giroux said. “I was going to stop at the blue line and wait for the guys because we were on the power play, and try to set up. I saw the defenseman (Engelland) step out on me, so I had a lot of speed and decided to keep going. I saw a little opening and I put it in.”

    Giroux’s goal stood as the last goal of the game, with Gordon garnering his first career game-winning goal. The 23-year-old Gordon, who has quietly assumed an unofficial leadership role, was humbled when asked if he envisioned himself in that position.

    “I’m sort of caught somewhere between a young guy and an older guy. I’m only a 2nd year pro, so guys like Perreault and Bouchard and Carlson, who are a little younger than me, can feel a little more comfortable talking to me rather than an older veteran like Mink, who plays a different style. I’ll assess that role if that’s what I’m being given. It’s great if I can play a leadership role on a team as special as this.”

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    East Division Finals vs. Pens Game 5

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    The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, riding the hot goaltending of Adam Berkhoel, and decisively winning the special teams’ showdown, defeated the Hershey Bears on Saturday night at the Wachovia Arena, 4-1, taking a 3-2 lead in the best of seven East
    Division Finals.

    Blitzed by the Penguins for three goals in the first period on Friday night, the Bears withstood an early surge off the opening faceoff, before regaining their composure and even generating much of the offense through the opening seven minutes of the contest, before Greg Amadio’s retaliatory roughing penalty at 8:25 started the unraveling.

    With Amadio serving his sentence, Chris Minard, the baby Pens’ leading goal scorer in the regular season and post-season, struck on the power play at 8:55 to give the home team a 1-0 lead.

    A botched line change by the Chocolate and White at 12:32 led to a bench minor penalty, and ultimately the second goal of the game and period, a power play strike by Luca Caputi at 13:43.

    The suddenly vulnerable Hershey penalty-killing unit, which did not allow a single strike against in their first round sweep of the Philadelphia Phantoms, has been victimized on 8 of the Penguins’ 17 goals scored in the series.

    “They are just not doing anything fancy, they are just throwing pucks on the net and winning battles,” said Bears’ head coach, Bob Woods. “I think on our power play, we’re not winning the battles. We are losing a lot of battles, whether it’s to keep possession or to track down loose pucks.”

    Hershey forward, Darren Reid, appearing in his first playoff contest of the season, wristed a shot by Pens’ netminder, Adam Berkhoel, at 5:19 of the second period to cut the Bears’ deficit to 2-1 and to put a halt to Berkhoel’s shutout hopes.

    “He (Berkhoel) is a great goalie, and there’s not too many of those shots that get by him,” said Reid. It was a nice play by Joudrey to bring it out wide. I just put everything I had behind it and went in.”

    Reid, the five year AHL veteran, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Friday, offered his sentiment on whether the Wachovia Arena is the toughest visiting building to play in.

    “It is; their fans can be very loud,” Reid said. Everybody knows that when you come to Wilkes-Barre, it’s going to be a tough battle.”

    Nick Johnson’s power play goal at 15:08 of the second period was the Penguins’ response to the Reid goal, re-establishing their two-goal lead at 3-1.

    Jeff Taffe’s empty net, shorthanded goal, with less than a minute to play in regulation, finished out the goal scoring for the event.
    The series shifts back down I-81 to Hershey’s Giant Center for game six on Sunday afternoon, with the Bears needing a win to force a game seven at the same venue on Tuesday evening.

    Reid, after the game, said that the Hershey’s fans have the potential to be just as big a factor in helping the Bears rebound from their dire predicament, as the Penguins’ fans were to the success of their team during the previous three games.

    “I think our fans are very important to our club. If we get on them early (on Sunday) and get the first goal, hopefully, we can keep on rolling with our fans behind us,” said Reid.

    If Reid and his teammates fail to get the tide rolling back into their favor with a win on Sunday, they will be rolling back to Giant Center on Monday to say their season-ending goodbyes.

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    East Division Finals vs. Pens Game 4

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    While looking to regain control of the series over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after their disappointing overtime loss on Wednesday night, the Hershey Bears hit a rough patch of road, yielding three unanswered goals in the first period, eventually falling to their neighbors to the north, 6-3.

    “You just can’t make mistakes,” commented Hershey’s head coach, Bob Woods. “A missed assignment, a missed communication on the second one, and a power play goal. It’s one of those things where you can’t make those mistakes early in the game because they feed off them.”

    The Penguins’ Luca Caputi stretched his team’s lead to 4-0 at before Grant McNeill finally got the Bears on the board with his first playoff goal at 18:56 of the second period.

    “I’m a pretty simple-minded guy when it comes to offense,” chuckled McNeill. “You’re not going to see too many dangles here. I pretty much get the puck to the net and drive. That’s what our line does and that’s what has been successful for us.”

    Not only was the goal McNeill’s first playoff goal, it was also the first taste of AHL playoff action for the 6th year pro.

    “It’s what I expected,” said McNeill of the intensity level of the game. “It’s the second best league in North America and everybody brings their best game to the playoffs. I’ve been waiting to get in all playoff season, and I was glad to have the opportunity and I’ll hopefully get in a lot of games to help the boys out.”

    Steve Pinizzotto’s goal at 4:47, and a power play opportunity just past the midway point through the third period gave a glimmer of hope to Bears’ fans. However, Hershey failed to generate any further momentum on the chance, with Mark Letestu scoring for the baby Pens soon after the expiration of the penalty to essentially seal the game.

    Keith Aucoin’s power play goal and Janne Pesonen’s empty net goal finished out the scoring for the evening, giving the Penguins the victory, and knotting the series at two.

    Even though the loss was a hard one for the Bears to take, McNeill stated that the size of the loss is inconsequential heading into tomorrow’s pivotal matchup.

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s a one, two, or three goal loss; we have to focus, starting now, analyze our game from tonight, and learn from our mistakes. It’s a new game tomorrow.”

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    Bears vs. Pens East Division Finals Game 2

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    The Hershey Bears subscribed to Yogi Berra’s philosophy of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” when facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in game two of the East Division Finals at Giant Center on Sunday evening, by continuing to display balanced scoring and solid goaltending.

    The Bears made their mark on the scoreboard first when Oskar Osala, stationed high in the slot between the hash marks, uncorked a shot that eluded Pens’ goaltender, John Curry, low to the glove side, to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Osala‘s goal was the product of only the second shot of the game for Hershey.

    Hershey rookie defenseman, John Carlson, who made his professional debut in Saturday’s game, netted his 1st career goal at 13:54, stretching Hershey’s lead to 2-0.

    Carlson, arriving late on the scene in an odd-man foray into Penguins’ territory, lofted a rebound over a sprawling Curry, after he had made a spectacular save on Francois Bouchard on the original shot.

    “I just saw it was a 3-on-2, so I just decided to jump in and be the third guy and just got lucky with the puck sitting there in the crease and I banged it in,” said Carlson.

    Carlson was just as adept in his zone during his impressive inaugural weekend in the AHL, partnered with Greg Amadio tonight after skating alongside Arsene on Saturday.

    “I think they are pretty similar in style because they both like to talk a lot, and that helps me a lot,” Carlson said. “It was another great game by my partner, and it always helps when your partner is playing good.”

    The Bears made it 3-0 in the latter stages of the period when Graham Mink, after receiving a pretty pass from Matthieu Perreault from behind the net, quickly unleashed a shot that buzzed by the beleaguered Curry at 17:51.

    After Hershey showed it’s offensive prowess in the first period, the club put on a stellar defensive performance in the second stanza, particularly on the penalty kill which faced down a major challenge early in the period, when Mink and Steve Pinizzotto were sent to the penalty box within a span of 28 seconds, giving the visitors a two-man advantage for ninety-two seconds.

    The Penguins’ power play, which struck for a pair of goals in the series opener and was ranked first in the league in the post-season entering the contest, was held in check during the sequence, and did not register a single shot on goal.

    “We know how potent their offense is, especially when they have a manpower advantage,” said veteran defenseman, Dean Arsene. “It’s just a lot of hard work, and we got some good bounces in our favor. Neuvy came up with some good saves.”

    The Bears’ penalty kill has undergone a transformation from worst in the league in the regular season to first in the loop in the playoffs.

    “I think it’s a little more attention to detail,” said Arsene, explaining the turnaround. “Overall, I think we were just thinking a little too much instead of just going and pressuring. Anytime you can pressure people, you may not cause a turnover on the first guy, but if they keep moving it, eventually they may turn it over or give us a chance to clear it.”

    The Penguins, unable to penetrate the armor of Bears’ goalie, Michal Neuvirth, until 18:04 of the third period, showed obvious frustration when taking some questionable shots at Hershey players, including Jeff Taffe’s assault on Graham Mink late in the third period.

    The Bears, however, held the lead and their composure, coming up with the win, 3-1, and a 2-0 lead in the series.

    “I think that’s just part of the playoffs, getting physical,” said Mink. “I knew we had a penalty there, so there wasn’t any point in me doing anything about it. You’re going to give them your best shot, and they’re going to give you theirs. That just comes with the territory. You just need to keep your head and not retaliate, because it‘s not going to help your team.”

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    Carlson Confidently Answers First Call

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    John Carlson, the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, made his professional debut on Saturday night at Giant Center, taking a regular shift in the Bears’ opening win against the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in the Eastern Conference Division Finals, the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

    The 6’3” 210 pound native of Natick, Massachusetts, who recently joined the Bears after ending his junior career under the tutelage of Capitals’ legend, Dale Hunter, with the London Knights of the OHL, took a regular shift in his debut, skating alongside his defensive partner, veteran, Dean Arsene.

    Assessing his own performance, Carlson, while giving himself high marks, admitted that it was a collective effort among all of the Hershey rearguards that made his first appearance a successful one.

    “It was good; I really enjoyed it,” said the 19-year-old. “It was a tough game, back and forth a little bit, but I thought everyone else played really well. All of the defensemen were being really talkative, and that always helps when you are a young guy coming in.”

    Carlson, who looked like a seasoned veteran in the outing, slightly changed his routine in anticipation of the event, but kept the same simple mindset that paved the way to the beginning of his professional career.

    “Obviously, it’s more important, so you have to prepare yourself a little differently, but you have to look at it as more or less like any other game. You have to try to stick to your game, because if you start trying to be someone else, usually you get caught out of position.”

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    Bears vs. WB/S Pens Eastern Finals 1

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    Balance was the buzz word at Giant Center following the Hershey Bears’ 5-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the first game of the Eastern Division Finals on Saturday night.

    While taking their 1-0 lead in the series, the Bears received goals from five different players. That, combined with the outstanding performances from special teams units, factored heavily into the triumph.

    “I think that’s (balanced scoring) been one of our strengths all year long, and this time of year, usually that’s how it works,” said Bears’ head coach, Bob Woods. “You look at the NHL series, and it’s not always the big dogs scoring all the time. Our (big) guys scored a couple nice goals, but for the most part, you have to have chip ins from everybody. I think that’s what makes us dangerous.”

    After Hershey’s penalty killing unit continued it’s perfect post-season pace, killing off an early Penguins’ power play, the Bears struck with a power play goal of their own, with defenseman, Staffan Kronwall, supplying the charge at 9:38 of the first period.

    Kronwall, who sat out Hershey’s series clinching win over the Phantoms last Friday after suffering a scratched cornea in the previous game, fired a seeing-eye shot that deflected off Pens’ defenseman, Joey Mormina.

    Chris Bourque, a former college teammate of Penguins’ net minder, John Curry, cued a shot off him at 11:13, giving the Bears a 2-0 advantage.

    “I knew someone was going to shoot it, and I wasn’t even watching it,” Bourque said. “I just kind of put my stick out there, and it hit my stick and went to the backboards. I knew Curry wasn’t getting to the post as quick as he could have, and I banked it off his skate and barely made it over the line.”

    Late in the first period, Hershey’s Oskar Osala, hooked down by Mormina after receiving a pass from Alzner, was awarded a penalty shot by referee, Ghislain Hebert. Osala’s awkward attempt beat Curry, but failed to find the back of the net, ricocheting harmlessly off the post.

    The visitors tied the game in the latter stages of the second period when Jean-Michel Daoust and Nick Johnson scored less than three minutes apart.

    At 19:43 of the stanza, Andrew Gordon’s power play goal gave the Bears a lead that they refused to surrender for the remainder of the evening.

    “Helmer good at finding those lanes, so that’s my job on the power play, to get in front of the net and stir up some traffic and make it tough for the goalie to see,” said Gordon. “It was one of those plays where I swung my stick at it. I probably do that a hundred times a game and don’t connect on any of them, but I was fortunate to get my stick on that one.”

    Gordon showed another side to his game, setting up Kyle Wilson for a slam dunk at 1:38 of the third period.

    Baby Pen Johnson, who scored the game winner in the regular season finale between the two teams, added a second goal to his playoff resume, keeping the Bears on their toes.

    Hershey’s big gun, Alexandre Gioux, put a halt to the Penguins’ comeback march, scoring his third goal of the playoffs to ice the game, 5-3.

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    Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly, Game 4

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    The Hershey Bears completed their sweep of the Philadelphia Phantoms in the Eastern Division Semifinals on Friday night at Giant Center, beating their rivals, 1-0.

    Though there were no goals scored in the first 20 minutes of action, the Bears thoroughly dominated the Phantoms in the shot category, as well as territorially, with a shot differential of 11-4, and only the outstanding goaltending of Philly’s Jean-Sebastien Aubin kept the home team off the board.

    “You have to give Hershey credit,” said Aubin. “They played a lot different than the last few games we played them in the regular season.”

    Early in the second period, Graham Mink, who was denied by Aubin on more than one occasion in the first period, tallied on the Bears’ 6th power play of the contest, giving the Bears what would eventually prove to be the only strike of the evening.

    “You just try to get chances, and you never know which one is going to go in,” Mink said of his continued efforts. “Giroux made a great play coming around behind the net and I hit it hard, and it went in the net.”

    Only 38 seconds after Mink’s goal, while Hershey was on yet another power play, Phantoms’ Jonathan Matsumoto was awarded a penalty shot after his shorthanded breakaway attempt was illegally interrupted by Chris Bourque. Matsumoto, who, in the regular season, had previously scored a penalty shot goal against Bears’ netminder, Simeon Varlamov, had this bid negated by goaltender, Michal Neuvirth.

    Hershey’s penalty kill, outstanding and literally perfect throughout this series, proved to be an essential ingredient in their recipe for success in this series, stopping all 22 attempts, including a pair of 2-man disadvantages in the series-clinching victory.

    “Everyone on the PK has realized that special teams is going to win your series,” said Beagle. “It’s a lot more important in the playoffs, and we found a way to get the job done. It was like scoring a big goal. The crowd was roaring and they got the team fired up; all the boys on the bench were yelling, and there was an incredible electricity.”

    Hershey coach, Bob Woods, who has sipped champagne from the Calder Cup, both as a player and as an assistant coach, smiled while reflecting on his team’s hard fought victory.

    “I told the guys after the game that that’s just a taste; as we keep going here, there’s going to be more fans in here and it’s only going to get better.”

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    Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly Game 3

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    The Hershey Bears fashioned out a hard fought 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Phantoms on Wednesday night at Giant Center, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead in the process.

    Hershey’s power play, which was in deep hibernation against their opponents from the City of Brotherly Love throughout most of the regular season series, struck for the fifth time in the series at 8:27 of the first period, with defenseman Staffan Kronwall lighting the lamp.

    The other side of Hershey’s special teams coin, the penalty killing unit, ranked last in the AHL during the regular season, and continued it’s flawless performance in the playoffs, snuffing out a 29 second 5-on-3 disadvantage midway through the period. During the 5-on-3 situation, Hershey netminder, Michal Neuvirth, contributed mightily to his team’s successful venture on the penalty kill, making a sparkling save on David Laliberte to maintain the 1-0 lead.

    Crime paid for the home team late in the period at 19:33, when rookie, Matthieu Perreault, sprung by a Keith Aucoin pass, and managed to get a shot over the outstretched glove of Philly backstopper, Scott Munroe, only seven seconds after his penalty for interfering with Munroe had expired.

    The Phantoms were finally able to dent the scoreboard into the latter stages of the stanza, when Jonathan Kalinski dented the twine at 15:54, with former Bear, Boyd Kane, collecting an assist on the strike. Kalinski, after scoring the goal, cut Kronwall with his stick while raising his arms in celebratory fashion, but was not penalized by referee, Francois Charron, which perhaps influenced another controversial Charron call later in the affair.

    Early in the third period, with Kane in the penalty box for roughing and the Bears in the midst of their third power play of the encounter, the unit surged for their second strike of the game, with Alexandre Giroux generating the goal at 1:20.

    Less than four minutes after the Giroux goal, the Bears had a chance to put the Phantoms in a deeper hole when defenseman, Michael Ratchuk was penalized for hooking, putting the home team on another power play. However, rookie forward, Francois Bouchard, manning the point during the power play, made a tactical error when he dove and failed to keep the puck in the Phantoms’ zone. Bouchard’s futile efforts resulted in an odd-man shorthanded Philly rush that culminated with a goal by defenseman Lasse Kukkonen at 6:19, cutting the Bears’ lead to 3-2.

    Unlike his non-call in the Kalinski incident, which did nothing to advance the Bears’ cause, Charron’s second controversial call of the affair benefited the Chocolate And White immensely.

    Just as Philly forward, James van Riemsdyk had seemingly tied the game at 17:14, rifling a wrist shot past Neuvirth, Charron waved the goal off, and sent Nate Raduns, who was entangled with Hershey defenseman Greg Amadio to the left of Neuvirth, to the penalty box for a holding call.

    The Phantoms, who never recovered from Charron’s non-goal call, failed to mount a serious threat to Hershey’s lead, even after pulling Munroe off of the ice in favor of an extra attacker in the last 10 seconds of regulation.

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    Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly Game 2

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    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.”

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    Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly, Game 1

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    For the first time since 2000, the Hershey Bears and the Philadelphia Phantoms met in the Calder Cup Playoffs, with the Bears taking a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Division Semifinals by a score of 4-2 at the Wachovia Spectrum.

    Hershey’s Andrew Gordon was the only lamplighter in the first period, with Kyle Wilson and Francois Bouchard picking up the assists.

    Philly’s potent power play, which registered 18 goals during the regular season at the Bear’s expense, failed in all five second period opportunities; however, Jonathan Matsumoto managed to record the only marker of the second period, an even strength goal.

    In six outings in the City of Brotherly Love during the regular season, the Bears notched just two power play goals against their interstate rivals. On this night, the wily Kyle Wilson struck on the power play, putting the Chocolate and White up 2-1, at 1:31 of the third period.

    Oskar Osala, appearing in his first professional playoff outing, lengthened the Hershey lead to two goals, beating the Phantoms’ net minder exactly four minutes after Wilson’s goal.

    Precisely six minutes after Osala’s goal, Lasse Kukkonen came calling and potted his team’s second goal of the evening, with Matsumoto and Patrick Maroon assisting, making it a one-goal affair.

    Displaying the balance that was part so instrumental in the Bears’ solidifying the top spot in the Eastern Conference came into play when Jay Beagle sealed the deal at 18:02, giving the Bears the final margin of victory, 4-2. Backing up the “balanced” evidence, ten different Bears recorded a point in tonight’s game.

    Hershey’s winning goaltender, rookie Michal Neuvirth, was solid in the net, garnering 30 saves, to record his first playoff win.

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