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.