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  • 2009 Calder Cup Champions

    Even a hungry bear sometimes gets tired of the home cooking, and embarks on a road trip for a meal. On Friday night, the Hershey Bears, who failed to capture the Calder Cup on Tuesday night in their own den, the Giant Center, captured their league record 10th championship, feasting on the Manitoba Moose at MTS Centre, 4-1.

    Hershey wasted little time taking the sellout crowd out of the game, getting an early goal from Andrew Gordon at 3:56 to take a 1-0 lead. Kyle Wilson and Chris Bourque provided the helper on the Gordon goal, his 6th of the playoffs.

    Less than three minutes after the Gordon goal, Wilson also played playmaker on a goal by Bourque at 6:10, forcing a turnover that Bourque converted into his 5th goal of the post-season to give Hershey a 2-0 lead.

    Alexandre Giroux, the AHL’s leading goal scorer and point producer in both the regular season and post-season, made it 3-0 at 11:16 of the 1st period, banking a shot off of the skate of Manitoba netminder, Cory Schneider, after a nifty deke.

    Manitoba meandered back into the game midway through the 2nd period when Mario Bliznak beat Michal Neuvirth with a wrist shot from between the faceoff circles during a delayed penalty to Hershey captain, Bryan Helmer, to make it 3-1, Hershey.

    Keith Aucoin, the league leader in assists during the playoffs, sealed the deal for the Chocolate and White, netting an empty net goal with only 21 seconds left in the game.

    Neuvirth, who finished with 24 saves on the night to secure his 16th triumph of the playoffs, was awarded the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs after the game.

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    A Tale of Two Goalies

    The Calder Cup Finals match up between the Hershey Bears and Manitoba Moose, which figured to be a dandy of series, considering the fact that the two clubs finished within a point of each other in the regular season, has not disappointed through the first five games.

    Arguably, the biggest reason that the series has lived up to expectations is the glittering goaltending exhibition that has been on display, featuring Moose netminder, Cory Schneider, and Hershey backstopper, Michal Neuvirth.

    Entering this series, the duo who were not born in the same year but only days apart, possessed identical playoff numbers in games played (16), wins and losses (12-4) and goals against (33), with Schneider showing a slightly lower goals against average (2.00 to 2.03), and Neuvirth nosing out his counterpart in the save percentage category (.929 to .925).

    Despite the statistical similarities between Schneider and Neuvirth, the routes that the sure-fire future NHL goaltenders traveled to get this spot on the map have been anything but identical, with Schneider cruising along at a steady speed, but Neuvirth taking the circuitous route.

    Schneider, the 23 year-old native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was drafted in the first round by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2004 NHL Entry draft after he led Team USA Under 18 Selects to the gold medal in the Under 18 World Junior Cup, but before he had played his first game at Boston College.

    Obviously, the Vancouver scouts who were instrumental in selecting Schneider had a keen eye in noticing his star potential, as he put up stellar numbers in all three of his seasons guarding the “Eagles’ Nest”.

    During his three seasons at B.C., he registered 65 wins and 15 shutouts, including a school record 8 whitewashes in the 05-06 season, when he led the Eagles to the finals of the NCAA tournament, where they ultimately fell in the championship game to the University of Wisconsin Badgers, who featured Hershey forward, Andrew Joudrey, in their lineup.

    Turning pro in the 2007-08 season, Schneider’s transition to the pro game went very smoothly, as he eclipsed the 20-win plateau and led the Moose to the Calder Cup playoffs, where he suffered four heartbreaking overtime losses to the Syracuse Crunch in the Moose’s first round ouster.

    Refusing to succumb to the sophomore jinx, Schneider was named the recipient of the Aldege “Buzz’ Bastein award this season, and also earned eight games in the NHL with Canucks, thanks to his noble numbers in the AHL.

    Neuvirth’s roller coaster ride began when he was selected by the Washington Capitals in the second round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, 11 selections after the Caps chose Simeon Varlamov, who is seemingly the 21 year-old native of the Czech Republic’s biggest obstacle to overcome for a position with Washington in next years’ training camp.

    Neuvirth’s travels to the shores of North American started innocently enough in the 2006-07 season when he tallied 26 wins in 41 appearances with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, leading the Whalers to the OHL championship and earning the F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy as the first-year goaltender with the lowest goals against average in the process.

    Neuvirth’s second season in the OHL proved to be rather trying, as the young Czech netminder was twice traded and “tended the twine” for three different clubs before a season-ending knee injury in the playoffs ended his season.

    In hindsight, it was probably a blessing that Neuvirth endured such an arduous adventure in his sophomore season, as that experience no doubt helped prepare him to ride out the twister of the 2008-09 season.

    After failing to make the Capitals out of training camp, Neuvirth plied his trade for one game with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL before being dispatched to Hershey, while the Capitals’ goaltending glut sorted itself out.

    With Varlamov already in Hershey and incumbent, Daren Machesney, also returning to Chocolatetown, Neuvirth was relegated to being a practice goalie while the organization searched for a locale in the AHL in which he would be afforded some much needed playing time.

    With no suitable facilitator for Neuvirth’s services, the rookie pro was sent back to his native Czech Republic, while his situation was settled. When Neuvirth returned to the United States, he was once again sent to South Carolina of the ECHL where he posted sparkling numbers, despite an unimpressive win-loss record.

    Finally, on December 27th Neuvirth earned a belated Christmas present, his 1st AHL start, a 4-1 loss to the Binghamton Senators at Giant Center. After making his AHL debut, Neuvirth went on to make 16 additional starts for the Bears, winning five out of his last six after being handed the ball down the stretch.

    Despite the current battle between his team and the Hershey Bears, and more specifically the natural rivalry between netminders, Schneider sees and appreciates the talent at the other end of the ice.

    “Some nights, one guy is better than the other, but he (Neuvirth) has been fantastic,” said Schneider, after Game 5 of the Calder Cup finals at Giant Center. “He looks great for a young guy and he shows a lot of poise, and doesn’t seem to get rattled too easily.”

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    Calder Cup Finals vs. Manitoba Game 5

    Over 10,000 fans filled the Giant Center Tuesday night with the intent of cheering the Hershey Bears to their 10th Calder Cup title, which would have been the first on home ice since 1980. However, the Manitoba Moose put a kink in those plans when they bested the Bears, 3-2 in Game 5 of the series, sending the series back to Manitoba.

    Manitoba Moose goaltender, Corey Schneider, with his team registering only four shots in the period, the first not coming until twelve minutes into the stanza, showed why he was the recipient of this year’s Baz Bastein Award, which is symbolic of the best goaltender in the AHL during the regular season by stopping all 12 shots he faced.

    While his team seemingly had to be frustrated with the mystery of Schneider, Bears’ forward, Graham Mink, said that was not the case when the question was posed to him.

    “No, not at all. We’ve had better periods than that and not scored,” said Mink. “We certainly had a lot of pressure, and you have to take your hat off to Schneider. He played an unbelievable game tonight and kept them in the game until they got their two goals there real quick in the second.”

    Schneider, who finished the game with 31 saves, was named the star of the game for keeping his team in the game, especially during the early stages, said that surviving the first 20 minutes unscathed was a vital component to his team’s success.

    “I think that was the key to the game. We knew they were going to come out real hard and try to bury us in the first period,” Schneider said. “For me, I knew I had to be sharp in the first period and give my team a chance to get our legs under us and get over the crowd and their energy.”

    After the Moose weathered the first period storm, the second period was all theirs, at least in the goal scoring department, as they netted the only goals of period, markers 1:07 apart, off the blades of Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson, to take a 2-0 lead into the second intermission.

    Mink was a man on a mission in the third period, depositing Alexandre Bolduc into the Hershey bench with a thunderous check, and then depositing the puck behind Schneider to cut Manitoba’s lead in half.

    “Our team has been a pretty good third period team, and we wanted to come out hard and stay physical,” said Mink. “Aucoin made a great play to get me the puck there and I had the empty net when Schneider went down.”

    Mink’s goal stood as the only one of the period until Jason Krog’s empty netter at 18:39, which proved to be the game-winning goal after John Carlson scored with just 31 seconds left in regulation.

    After the game, Mink, while disappointed that the Bears were not able to claim the Cup on home ice, chose not to dwell on the negative aspects of the setback.

    “I just wanted to win so bad, and I want to win so bad every night. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen tonight. We’re just going to have to use that in a positive way on Friday.”

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    Calder Cup Finals vs. Manitoba Game 4

    The Hershey Bears, facing an unfamiliar situation in the playoffs at Giant Center, trailing after one period of play, responded in familiar fashion, scoring the last two goals of the game and emerging with a 2-1 win over the Manitoba Moose on Sunday evening to take a 3-1 series lead in the best of seven Calder Cup Finals.

    Raymond Sawada gave the Moose a 1-0 lead 11:37 into the first period, rifling a wrist shot past Hershey goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, from between the face-off circles.

    Neuvirth’s counterpart, Cory Schneider, who has been outstanding between the pipes for the Moose against the high octane Hershey attack, kept the Bears off the board late in the period, repelling Mathieu Perreault’s backhand attempt from close range to keep it a 1-0 game after twenty minutes of play.

    Just as Schneider did late in the first period, Neuvirth nullified high-scoring Moose forward, Michael Grabner’s, backhand attempt in the opening minute of the second period with the visitors in the midst of a power play.

    Kyle Wilson willed home the equalizer for the Bears 5:11 into the second period, wristing a shot by the glove hand of Schneider, after the Moose netminder lost his angle and gave Wilson a huge target at which to shoot. Wilson’s goal was his third of the playoffs and his first since the opening game of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton series.

    “Gordon made a great play with a little saucer pass to me,” said Wilson, who has never missed a playoff game in his three-year Hershey career. “I had to fight off a couple guys and get myself free to make a good shot. By the time I did that, the goalie had committed down pretty low, so I had to get up and over him.”

    Bear’s defenseman John Carlson, who made his debut in Hershey during game one against the Baby Pens and picked up the secondary assist on Wilson’s goal, is enjoying the rollercoaster ride in his rookie season.

    “It’s an unbelievable experience and opportunity to be placed in a situation like this. Some guys never get it, and here I am, 19 years old, and having a shot to do it. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Carlson, the Washington Capitals’ 1st round selection in the 2008 draft.

    Schneider regained his sharpness after the Wilson goal, denying a pair of quality chances by Hershey’s leading point scorer, Keith Aucoin to send the game into the third period, knotted at 1-1.

    Early in the third period, Quintin Laing, Hershey’s inspirational leader, delivered a crunching hit on Manitoba’s Dusty Collins, giving his team an emotional lift and seemed to provide a spark in the step of the home team.

    “I was a little cautious about throwing my body around in my first game back, but after I took a couple of good hits and handled those and nothing happened to me, I figured if I could take them, I could give them,” said Laing, who will celebrate his 30th birthday on Monday.

    With former Capital, Nolan Baumgartner, already in the box serving a penalty for hooking, a sloppy line change cost the Moose another skater, and gave the Bears a 5-on-3 opportunity for 65 seconds.

    Thanks to some early communication problems between Keith Aucoin and Staffan Kronwall, Hershey used 63 of those precious seconds before Aucoin atoned for his error in judgment by depositing an errant shot by Alexandre Giroux into the cage.

    “I screwed up at the beginning, throwing it down the other end,” said Aucoin. “I got a lucky bounce off the wall there and was able to capitalize. I had a lot of shots high, and I was due for one.”

    Despite a Moose power play chance at the end of the game, the Bears held on for the win, with Neuvirth preserving his win by kicking aside Jason Krog’s bid in the closing seconds.

    Hershey’s victory moved them within just one win of capturing their 10th Calder Cup Championship, which would be their first on home ice since 1980 when the Bears defeated the New Brunswick Hawks, a team which featured former Bears’ coach, Bruce Boudreau as its leading scorer.

    Laing, a nine year veteran in search of his first professional championship, favors Hershey’s position, but views Tuesday’s game with caution.

    “It’s a good feeling to be this close, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. The clinching game has always been the toughest the last three rounds. We’re expecting a good, hard fight, and the crowd is going to be behind us; hopefully we can feed off of them.”

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    Calder Cup Finals vs. Manitoba Game 3

    Although Hershey goaltender, Michal Neuvirth’s, stellar performance with 28 saves that earned him a shutout and bragging rights as the number one star of the game, the gritty stylings of Steve Pinizzotto figured just as prominently in the Bears’ 3-0 win over the Manitoba Moose on Saturday at Giant Center.

    Pinizzotto, Hershey’s fourth line punisher who has befuddled each of the Bears’ opponents in the playoffs with his bone bruising style, was on top of his game early in the first period, with his workmanlike methods proving instrumental in drawing the first penalty of the game, a slashing infraction on Manitoba’s Shaun Heshka at 6:14.

    “For him to be effective, he’s got to be that type of player,” said the Bears’ head coach, Bob Woods, of Pinizzotto, who has answered the challenge since their mid-March conference. “We don’t need him yapping and stuff like that. We need him out there being physical, and when you play that way, you get a lot off people’s attention. You get guys a little bit concerned every time you touch the puck, and when he’s on the ice, you’ve got to keep your head up.”

    Hershey wasted little time on the power play that resulted from Pinizzotto’s labor, when Graham Mink struck 8 seconds into the advantage. Mink’s goal was his 6th of the playoffs, and 4th game-winner.

    “I just wanted to get to the front of the net, and Kronwall made a great play coming down the wall and throwing it up front,” said Mink. “I got my stick on it, and it bounced in over the goalie’s leg pad. We wanted to get the first goal, and I was fortunate enough to be there.”

    Staffan Kronwall and Chris Bourque picked up the helpers on the Mink marker. Bourque’s assist, his 15th of the post-season, temporarily put him in a first place tie for the league lead in that category with his teammate, Keith Aucoin.

    Hershey’s power play perfection continued, and Aucoin regained his assist lead midway through the second period when he assisted on Alexandre Giroux’s league-leading 14th goal of the playoffs at 9:38, giving the Bears a 2-0 lead. Giroux’s goal was also his 9th power play goal of the postseason.

    “It was a kind of a 3-on-1 and I doubted whether to take the shot. I was thinking of passing back to Mink, but while I was in my motion, I just decided to let it go,” said Giroux, explaining his change-of-pace shot. “It was not my hardest shot, but sometimes you just have to place it and it goes in.”

    Neuvirth, who did not see his first shot of the game until more than six minutes had elapsed, displayed some of his best handiwork when he made a pair of glittering glove saves later in the game on Jason Jaffray, who scored a hat trick at the rookie’s expense in game two in Manitoba.

    “The first saves are always huge, and I want to make the saves as early as I can,” said Neuvirth. “It’s always tough for a goalie to have to stand there for like six minutes.”

    An empty net goal by the recently returning Quintin Laing sealed the Moose’s fate for the evening, giving the Bears the 2-1 lead in the Calder Cup Finals.

    Neuvirth, who earned his sixth number one star of the game, and fourth shutout victory, drew high praise from veteran forward Mink, who also had a firsthand look when Frederic Cassivi backstopped the Bears to the 2006 Calder Cup Championship.

    “Nothing rattles him, nothing phases him. He’s given us a chance to win every game. That’s all you can ask out of a goalie, especially one as young as he is. He’s got a promising future.”

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    Calder Cup Finals vs. Manitoba Game 1

    Though the Hershey Bears trailed the Manitoba Moose after 40 minutes of play, they had to be thinking, “We’ve got them right where we want them”. The Bears, as they did three times in the Providence series, fought back from third period deficits to take a 1-0 lead in the Calder Cup finals with an overtime goal by Alexandre Giroux.

    Giroux, the reigning AHL MVP, had three goals in the game, to give him 12 goals in the playoffs. Rookie Oskar Osala scored a pair of goals for the Chocolate and White.

    Bears’ goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, made 26 saves, including a second period penalty shot from Matt Pope, to register his 13th win of the playoffs. Game 2 is scheduled for Tuesday night in Manitoba.

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    Kyle Wilson: Consistency Is His Game

    If one were searching for one word to describe Hershey Bears forward Kyle Wilson on the ice, flashy would not be that word; however, one word that definitely fits Wilson to a tee is ‘consistent’, something he has been since his impressive debut as a Bear against the Manitoba Moose at Giant Center, when he scored a pair of goals, including the game-winning goal.

    Not unexpectedly, the steady Wilson, now standing 6’0” and weighing in at 200 lbs., not huge by current NHL standards, patterned his game during his youth hockey days after a player with similar physical characteristics.

    “Growing up, I was surprisingly a pretty small guy and I really didn’t grow until high school,” said Wilson by phone on Thursday. “I always loved watching Joe Sakic play; he was always so creative with the puck. Every time he would score a great goal, I would go and try to do it in practice the next day.”

    Wilson was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the 2004 NHL draft, one slot ahead of the Buffalo Sabres’ 273rd pick, Dylan Hunter, son of Washington Capitals’ legend, Dale Hunter. As with any decision Wilson makes on the ice, a lot of thought was put into his decision to choose college over the Canadian junior ranks.

    “Playing through juniors and whatnot, you always see the coaches and guys who were
    great players, but they had their injuries and couldn’t make it and had nothing to fall back on,” said Wilson, a native of Oakville, Ontario. “I had really good grades in high school and my parents were obviously pushing me to get an education. I was given a great opportunity to go to Colgate and it was hard to pass up.”

    Not only did Wilson earn his degree in Physics at Colgate University, but he also put up impressive numbers on the ice during his senior year, leading the team in scoring with 41 points, and earning second team ECACHL All-Conference honors.

    After failing to stick with the San Antonio Rampage at the beginning of his rookie season, Wilson was dispatched to the South Carolina Stingrays for a brief stint before being called up to Hershey in December 2006.

    “San Antonio gave me an opportunity but they really didn’t have room for me and they put me on the wing. Any player getting called up for the first time to a new team, you just have to try and keep it simple and work as hard as you can and hopefully, your instincts take over,” said Wilson.

    He continued, “When Hershey called me up, they put me at center and they gave me a couple of good wingers right off the bat and basically said, here is your shot, show what you can do, and it’s worked out for me. I ran into a great situation here in Hershey and they really helped me and taught me a lot, and that really benefited me and made me the player that I am.”
    Wilson, who scored nearly a point per game in Hershey’s 2006-07 Calder Cup Finals, has seen his numbers drop significantly in this year’s playoffs, primarily due to his increased responsibilities in his own zone.

    “I’m definitely a lot better defensive player now. Woody has shown confidence in me by putting me in a lot more defensive situations than before. Whatever it takes to win, that’s what you have to do and hopefully I can contribute more in this series.”

    The location of Wilson’s future contributions is unknown, as he heads into Restricted Free Agency this summer. For now, though, Wilson, like his teammates, is focused on attaining the four more wins needed for a Calder Cup Championship.

    “I’ll figure all that out at the end of the year after the season is over. The ball is in their (Washington’s) court. I’d love to get an opportunity to get some NHL time, but I love it here in Hershey, and it’s obviously a great place to play. It’s gotten me to the Calder Cup Finals twice.”

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    East Conference Finals vs. Providence Game 5

    When Chris Bourque’s father, the legendary Ray Bourque finally got his name of the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in his 21st professional season, the rallying call was “Mission 16W”. Their battle cry signified the exit on the New Jersey Turnpike where the Avs played three of the seven games against the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup.

    On Monday evening in Providence, it was Chris Bourque’s shorthanded goal that propelled the Hershey Bears to their own “Mission 16″, as in 16 wins to claim their 10th Calder Cup Championship, in their 21st appearance in the Calder Cup Finals.

    The Bears came out of the gates in the contest determined to get an early lead and not fall behind in the contest; however, despite two power play advantages and a huge shot advantage of 13-3, the Chocolate and White failed to register a first period goal for the fifth straight time on the road, and entered the first intermission in a scoreless deadlock.

    Early in the second period, Andrew Gordon’s power play goal, his 5th strike of the post-season at 2:17, gave the Bears their first 1st or 2nd period lead on the road since their first road outing in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguin series. The point that Bourque picked up for assisting on the goal made him the league leader in the assist category.

    Brad Marchand’s power play goal, his 7th goal of the playoffs and 5th on the power play at 4:45, tied the game at a goal apiece. With the goal, Marchand also tied Hershey’s Alexandre Giroux for the league lead in power play goals.

    Giroux, not wanting to share the stage with Marchand, picked up his 9th goal, his 6th with the man advantage, taking back sole ownership of the spotlight later in the period, giving the Bears a 2-1 lead to take to the 3rd period.

    Mikko Lehtonen tied the game less than two minutes into the third period.

    Providence, who had already struck on eight power plays throughout the series, looked poised to take a lead and extend the series when Dean Arsene was whistled off for two minutes at 5:30.

    However, Bourque pounced upon the opportunity, and scored the Bears’ first short-handed goal of the season, giving the Bears a lead they would never relinquish.

    Darren Reid and Quintin Laing (empty net) both tacked on goals to account for the final score of 5-2.

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    East Conference Finals vs. Providence Game 4

    The Hershey Bears moved one step closer to their third appearance in the Calder Cup finals in the last four years, when they dug themselves out of a two-goal hole at Dunkin Donuts Center, and glazed the Providence Bruins in overtime, 3-2.

    The Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, with goals from Peter Schaefer and Jeff Penner.

    Hershey’s captain, Bryan Helmer, who started his team’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit on the road in game two of the Philadelphia series, once again duplicated that feat by scoring his 3rd goal of the playoffs at 7:31 of the second period.

    Keith Aucoin, the former Bruin, tied the game at two at 13:12 with his 3rd goal of the postseason.

    Aucoin’s goal was the last one of regulation, and the game continued into an overtime period, Hershey’s second of the playoffs.

    The hero of the day turned out to be Graham Mink, who tallied at 15:10 of overtime, his 5th marker in 15 playoff contests, and his 3rd game-winner.

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    Eastern Conference Finals vs. Providence Game 2

    On November 5, 1938, in the Hersheypark Arena, the Hershey Bears recorded their first franchise win, defeating the Providence Reds. On Sunday night at Giant Center, the Bears registered their first playoff victory over the Providence Bruins by the same score, 2-1, tying the series at one.

    In the first period, the teams combined for only 11 shots on goal, which was one less than Providence’s first period total from game one, with Hershey’s first shot coming from Keith Aucoin on the power play at 16:08.

    The stanza also featured one significant shot of a different nature: Graham Mink’s body shot, which was originally intended to level Providence’s Zach Hamill, instead felled Hershey captain, Bryan Helmer, who absorbed the brunt of the blow. The grizzled Helmer, a veteran of 10 AHL playoff seasons, although momentarily downed by the hit, did not miss his next shift.

    “We were fighting along the boards, and I really don’t know what happened. I had my head down. I thought he (Hamill) hit me. That’s just the way Graham is; he plays hard, and stuff like that happens,” chuckled Helmer, with Mink chiming in a joking apology in the background.

    Unlike game one, game two’s first period played out more like a typical opening period of a playoff series.

    “Nobody was tearing it up in the first period there. Everybody was kind of sitting back and not a lot of energy out of either team, and just kind of playing it safe,” said Bears’ head coach, Bob Woods. “I think everybody’s scared to make a make a mistake because we knew that first goal was going to be big, especially with the way both goaltenders were playing.”

    Hershey turned up the heat in the second period, firing 21 shots at Bruins’ goaltender, Tuukka Rask, but failed to rattle Rask’s cage.

    Michal Neuvirth, Hershey’s number one netminder, as not to be outdone by his counterpart, made late saves in each of the first two periods to keep Providence off the scoreboard, denying Brad Marchand on a 2-on-1 in the first period and putting the brakes on Jeff Penner’s shorthanded bid in the second period.

    An unlikely candidate finally broke the deadlock at 3:21 of the third period. Bears’ forward Andrew Joudrey skillfully redirected Tyler Sloan’s point blast behind Rask to give him team a 1-0 lead.

    “It was Oskar getting down on the forecheck quick, and getting the puck through their defenseman,” said Joudrey, of his first career playoff goal. “I saw that and kind of backed off and became the high slot guy. They collapsed and Oskar found Sloan and it worked out.”
    Just 2:40 seconds after Joudrey’s goal, Alexandre Giroux banked a power play shot off of former Bear, defenseman, Johnny Boychuk, to give the Bears a 2-0 lead.

    “It was definitely a pass and not a shot. I think it hit his (Boychuk’s) skates, or the goalie’s pads, and it went five-hole,” said Giroux, who is now tied for the league lead in playoff power play goals with five.

    Brad Marchand’s power play goal, with Rask on the bench for an extra attacker with just over 30 seconds left to play, broke Neuvirth’s bid for his 4th playoff shutout.

    Neuvirth, who has played every minute of Hershey’s 13 playoff games, said he’s still raring to go, despite his heavy workload.

    “Everybody’s tired. It’s a long season, but I’m feeling good, and we’re going to get a day off tomorrow,” said Neuvirth.

    After evening the series with Sunday’s victory, things are looking up for the Bears as they take to the road for the next three games.

    “If you go down 2-0 and go back to their barn for three, it would be really tough,” said Helmer. “We got the win tonight, and we’re looking forward to going there.”

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