FINAL: Pirates 0 at Bears 2 (Series tied 2-2)

Facing elimination, we anticipated a quick start out of the Chocolate and White. Sure enough, the Hershey Bears answered the bell in the opening period of Game 4.

With 7:09 left in the first, Jakub Vrana dropped a perfect backhand pass to Travis Boyd. Boyd roofed a shot over Mike McKenna to give the Bears a key early advantage. At 15:10, Hershey received their first power play chance of the night, and luckily hit pay-dirt.

Chris Bourque moved lateral along the blue line after wheeling from the half boards, and unloaded a blast on McKenna. Bourque’s movement and quick trigger caught McKenna off squared to the puck.

A period dominated on 5-on-5 play and the special teams has Hershey up 2-0 after 20 minutes.

Both teams exchanged eight shots in the middle period, all stopped by Justin Peters and McKenna. The Bears killed off a key 5-on-3 for six seconds in the final minute of the second period, leading to two chances shorthanded.

The tight defensive effort and superb penalty kill carried into the third stanza. Peters made seven more saves to complete a 19 save clean sheet, highlighted by the kill of a key minor penalty with 10:04 to play.

Overall, 1-for-2 on the advantage, 3-for-3 on the kill and 19 shots against to Hershey’s 28. It is the perfect recipe for a 2-0 win in Game 4 to force a decisive Game 5 tomorrow.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Staring Elimination in the Eye Patch – 4/30

Facing elimination. It is not the position the Hershey Bears wanted to see themselves in come Game 4 against the Portland Pirates. Nevertheless, following a classic of a Game 3 on Thursday, which saw the longest game in GIANT Center history, the Bears are in a must win scenario tonight.

The Chocolate and White will look to push the best of five series to its maximum. Game 5 would be tomorrow at 5 PM at the GC. Tonight, Justin Peters will return to the crease after a sensational performance in the triple overtime setback. He will oppose Mike McKenna, who has tended Portland’s net all series.

Garrett Mitchell is back in the lineup after sitting Thursday with a minor injury. He will join Chris Bourque and Chandler Stephenson on the top line. Sean Collins will slide to the energy line with Liam O’Brien and Zach Sill.

Let’s “Defend the Den” tonight and force a Game 5!


Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL (3)OT: Pirates 2 at Bears 1

The Hershey Bears and Portland Pirates continued their best of five series on Thursday with Game 3. Mike McKenna and Justin Peters squared off in goal for the second consecutive game in the series, and both were perfect in the opening period.

McKenna stopped all 12 shots he faced in the opening 20, as well as Peters’ on five shots. The first shot Justin Peters stopped in the game came on a breakaway developed from nearly 100 feet away.

The Chocolate and White continued to pound the net in the second period and were rewarded at 5:27. Nathan Walker finished a pretty passing play started by Madison Bowey and continued by Dustin Gazley on an odd-man rush.

But the story of the second period was a sensational 6-for-6 penalty kill led by Justin Peters. Special teams. We saw it first hand in 2009 and 2010 — It will win you championships.

Special teams provided the Bears with a 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.

With 13:32 remaining in regulation, Portland found the equalizer on a wrap around. Greg McKegg danced around the net and beat Peters low to the ice to knot the contest. The goal forced overtime, and three, sudden-death overtime periods were needed. At 3:10 of the third overtime, Rob Flick scored on a rush to end the hockey game after four hours and six minutes.

The Bears’ backs are against the wall, but overcoming adversity has been a theme all season.

See you Saturday!

Submitted by Matt Trust

A Chance to Jump in the Driver’s Seat: 4/28

Although we much would have preferred the Hershey Bears taking both games in Portland to start the series, winning one put the Chocolate and White in control. Following a tough 6-4 setback to kickoff the series, Hershey responded 24 hours later.

Tonight it’s Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Semi-Finals between the Hershey Bears and Portland Pirates. With a split on the road, Games 3, 4 and if necessary 5 will be on GIANT Center ice. A win tonight for the Chocolate and White would put them in the driver’s seat with a chance to close out the series on Saturday.

For tonight’s game, the opening 20 minutes will be key for the Bears’ success. A slow start haunted Hershey in Game 1 with glaring turnovers in the defensive zone. In this game, I would look towards veteran leaders to also step up and make an impact. Chris Bourque has thrived in the postseason role, especially when playing in GIANT Center, in recent years.

Justin Peters will get the nod after a sensational Game 2 effort.

Be sure to be in your seat for the Opening Face Off Pregame Show at 5:50, as well as for a 7 PM puck drop.

Get ready, playoff hockey is back in the “Sweetest Place on Earth.”


Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL – Bears 3 at Pirates 1 – 4/23

GREAT rebound by this team, who got the goaltending it needed, the mistakes shaken off, and a step-up performance by every single player in a 3-1 victory.

Below is the official press release.  Long travel ahead, then several days of practice to prepare for the pivotal game 3 in Chocolatetown on Thursday.

We heard you here, fans… thank you for listening!  GO BEARS!!

Riley Barber’s third-period power play goal ended up as the game-winner, backing up Justin Peters’ 31-save effort and helping the Hershey Bears to a 3-1 victory over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night at Cross Insurance Arena. The best-of-five series is tied at one game each.

The first period was up to the goaltenders, and it was a much better period for Hershey. Mike McKenna had the answer on all nine Hershey shots however, including glove saves on Barber and on a Carter Camper power play rebound chance. Peters turned away all 12 shots, and was busy early and late.

McKenna was finally beaten early in the second period. Garrett Mitchell’s first goal of the playoffs came on a hard snap shot from the left faceoff dot that eluded McKenna short-side. Hershey led 1-0 at 1:41.

But the Pirates turned up the heat and owned the possession for just about the remainder of the period. Peters came up huge on two penalty kills, but after Connor Brickley beat out an icing call, he hurried a feed toward the right circle. Sena Acloatse cruised in and stepped into a one-timer that beat Peters at 18:02.

Hershey’s first power play goal of the series would end up deciding the game. Christian Djoos spotted Riley Barber with a diagonal pass to the left circle, and Barber would lift a wrister off the right-corner post and in at 1:31.

Jakub Vrana scored for the second consecutive night for the insurance tally, whirling around in the slot and firing a rebound of a Camper shot inside the left post at 8:07.

That was all the Bears needed, as Peters shut the door on all six third-period shots by the Pirates, including a waving-glove save on a Rob Schremp shot with time winding down. McKenna took the loss and dropped to 1-1, stopping 18 of 21 shots. The Bears finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.


IN-GAME UPDATE: Bears 0 at Pirates 0 – End 1st

If you were looking for a response period by Hershey, you got it.  Tremendous defensive effort by the entire team, including the forwards.  Also, watch the Vrana-Camper-Barber trio.  They are going to score before this night is over.

A great goaltending display is what came out of that 20 minutes, at both ends of the ice.

Second period is on deck. GO BEARS!

Official release:

The first period was up to the goaltenders, and it was a much better period for Hershey. Mike McKenna had the answer on all nine Hershey shots however, including glove saves on Riley Barber and on a Carter Camper power play rebound chance. Justin Peters turned away all 12 shots, and was busy early and late.

Shaking Off Friday, Game Two Time – 4/23

Greetings from Cross Insurance Arena!

First and foremost, here is the audio of all the goals in last night’s 6-4 Pirates victory in Game One:

Stating the obvious here, but head coach Troy Mann agreed with everything that he and I tossed around in the coaches’ room after last night’s game.  Nerves, turnovers, and the penalty teeter-totter all piled up to give the Pirates the 6-4 victory.  The really obvious statement is this: had it not been for the first 14 minutes, and had one power play goal gone in on one of the four chances that the Bears earned, Hershey wins that game.

The impressive thing about the game was the way the team battled back.  You obviously don’t want to spot an opponent so big a lead.  But to grind things out on the forecheck to force turnovers and take meaningful, accurate shots like the team did in the third period, you have to tip your hat on the effort.  Tyler Lewington got better and better as the game went on and earned himself a star of the game for scoring two goals.

Last night was also proof positive that Hershey has the edge in goaltending.  Mike McKenna was not good – nowhere near as good as he was during the season.  I can’t imagine that Portland makes any changes in winning a game like they did unless an injury cropped up that we don’t know about.  So I’m going to gamble that he gets the net again.

For Hershey, Mann will turn to Justin Peters.  His record down the stretch of the regular season: 5-0-1 in his last six starts – and 3-0-0 in April.  In the morning meeting preceding an optional skate (taken by Christian Djoos, Jakub Vrana, Lewington, Domenic Monardo, Mike Moore, Liam O’Brien and Peters), I heard loud applause coming from the locker room.  I spoke to a few of the guys and they know what mistakes were made, and what can’t happen again.  The nerves are evacuated.  Expect a tighter game played by the Bears – and I am going to bank on this series being even when all is said and done.

Game notes for tonight are available here.  The same referees will officiate.  The same loud and dedicated fans will be ready to cheer on their Pirates.

Game Two is coming up at 7, with pre-game at 6:20.




Too Steep of a Hill to Climb – Bears 4 at Pirates 6

Game One of the Atlantic Division semifinal series between the Hershey Bears and the host Portland Pirates can be summed up in three words:

  1. Nerves.  It was blatantly obvious that nerves were showing on the part of some of Hershey’s rookies.  And you simply have to feel for them.  It is not an easy task to claim a division title and be pressured to get a good start in game one on the road.  It is difficult.  Trust me.
  2. Turnovers.  A direct result of nerves is turnovers.  Dan Ellis did all he could in this game, stopping breakaways as early as 25 seconds into the game.  Corban Knight, Wade Megan, Wayne Simpson – all were victimized by the Bears backstop, but the Bears could not do much to help Ellis out.  They were under fire all game.
  3. Penalties.  The Bears got Hershey’s first four power plays of the night, and the Pirates got the next four.  Neither team’s penalty kill budged.  But a crucial slashing penalty inside the final minute of play, with the Bears already having battled back to trail 5-4, ended up giving the Pirates the amount of puck possession time they needed.  10 seconds less than they needed, actually.

So that’s it.  Put it in the rear-view mirror, wipe the slate clean, shake off the loss and get back at it tomorrow.  No time to dwell.  The fact that the Bears as a team got together and nearly made this comeback complete has got to be a help.

We will go on the air at 6:20 again tomorrow, and the puck drops at 7:00.  Here is the link to the recap.

Thanks for listening everyone!



IN-GAME UPDATE: Bears 2 at Pirates 3 – End 2nd

Here is the official recap that eventually will be the final release on this one.  Hershey really settled down that period, and the Brett Olson goal would probably be the one Ellis wants back.  It may very well be the only one he shouldn’t have let get past him.  He has been absolutely outstanding, adding another breakaway save (his third of the game) on Wayne Simpson in that period.

The third period will start at full strength.



Official Release:

Portland came out firing in the first period, and took a 1-0 lead when Kyle Rau muscled a faceoff win to the net and tucked a shot under Dan Ellis’ left pad at 6:11. The score could have been more lopsided, but moments earlier, Ellis stopped Corban Knight on a breakaway and Rocco Grimaldi with a glove save from the slot. Defenseman Dylan Olsen also rang the crossbar with a slap shot from the left point.

On a line rush, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead when Matt MacKenzie centered a pass that Ryan Stanton deflected away. But the puck took a Pirates bounce right to Rob Schremp, who backhanded a shot past Ellis at 15:49.

After missing on four power play chances, the Bears would find themselves in a four-on-four situation late in the period. Chris Bourque shoveled a pass between the Portland defense where Stanton was lurking. The blueliner hurried a snap shot over Mike McKenna’s glove with just under 14 seconds left in the period, putting Hershey on the board.

The Bears would kill off a two-man advantage for Portland early in the middle frame, but again found themselves down by two when Brett Olson took an off-wing wrist shot that eluded Ellis over the glove. Portland led 3-1 at 14:08.

Once again however, Hershey had the answer. A tired Christian Djoos would make a lunging poke-check to keep the puck on side. Travis Boyd grabbed it, whipped it into the mid-slot and Jakub Vrana one-timed it home from there at 15:49.

IN-GAME UPDATE: Bears 1 at Pirates 2 – End 1st

This could have easily been a 5-0 lead for Portland before Ryan Stanton injected some life into the Bears with a goal inside the final :10 of the opening period.

First, Corban Knight had a breakaway from just inside the blue line, and Dan Ellis got his jersey logo in front of the hurried shot.

Minutes later, Rocco Grimaldi came flying down the slot to catch up to a puck poked loose from the right corner. He stepped into one but Ellis flashed the leather to trap it.

After the Pirates went ahead 1-0, Dylan Olsen’s long-range slapper from the left point caught the crossbar.  That was checked on video at the next stoppage, but the puck wasn’t in.

Ellis really can not do any more for his team, who really owe him a good turnaround game here.  I have to believe that some of the rookies have some nerves on display, but the team definitely did settle in.  Additionally, the Bears cannot get any more help from the officials, who handed out four Hershey power plays that frame – the first four of the game. But at the start of the second, Portland gets a four-on-three that will turn into a five-on-three.

Nerves are out, now it’s time to get back to Bears hockey.

Game sheet is here.