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BEARS FOIL PHANTOMS


Trailing for the first time at home during their record-tying 22 home winning streak, it looked like the Hershey Bears might have to reset the clock and start another home run because of the relentless Adirondack Phantoms; however, buoyed by a pair of goals by former Phantom, Boyd Kane, the Bears extended their streak to a record-breaking 23 home wins.

“We really came out hard in the third. Going into the third, we weren’t happy because we hadn’t played a good game. We wanted to break the record, and we knew what was on the line,” said Bears’ center, Keith Aucoin.

Kane initiated the scoring at 16:10 of the first period denting the twine for the 20th time this season.

“I gave it to Bourque up high and he went down low and made a great pass to me,” said Kane, who has reached the 20-goal mark twice in his career, both times with the Bears. “I was all alone in the slot and I was able to put it far side.”

Adirondack’s Andreas Nodl knotted the score at one by fending off defenseman, Karl Alzner, and then beating Bears’ goaltender, Michal Neuvirth through the five-hole at 18:24.

Rob Bellamy gave the Phantoms a 2-1 lead 6:11 into the second period by taking advantage of Neuvirth turning the puck over in the trapezoid behind the net and banking the puck off the glove and body of the second year netminder.

The Bears opened the third period on a power play and seemingly tied the game when Chris Bourque’s bullet appeared to bounce quickly in and out of the net. Though the goal light went on, the goal was waived off and play continued. Shortly after the controversial shot, Zach Miskovic’s missile from the point eluded Phantoms’ netminder, Johan Backlund, and officially tied the game at two.

At 6:25 of the final frame, Aucoin, thanks to a solid screen provided by Kane, put the home team in front for the second time.

“My job on the power play is to go stand in front of the net and screen the goalie,” Kane said. “That’s what I was doing, and Aucoin was actually trying to pass it to me and it just went through me and Mormina and got through the goalie, too.”

Hershey head coach, Mark French, who was not with the organization when Kane captained the club to the Calder Cup in 2006, realizes what Kane’s presence means to the team.

“He’s every bit a professional,” said French. “He’s a great asset in our dressing room, and a workman’s type player. You appreciate his work ethic. He shows up every day with his lunch box and his work shoes and he goes to work. I think everybody can appreciate the type of player he is. He’s very versatile, as you mentioned. He can step up and play, as he did at times this year, on our top line, or he could play on your third-line checking line and do each equally as well.”

Kane capped off the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:40, establishing a new career-high goal total of 21.

“It’s nice. When you come so close and don’t get there, you want to get there,” said Kane of breaking the 20-goal barrier. “It’s a good feeling to get it out of the way, and now I’ll just keep going.”

While playing against players that one called teammates just last season may present problems for younger, less experienced players, for Kane, it’s all in a day’s work.

“It’s a lot of fun to go out there and play against your friends. I’ve been around a bit and done it a lot, so I think it brings the best out of me sometimes.”

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Calder Cup Semis vs. Philly Game 3


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


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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