The Hershey Bears entered Sunday with hopes of closing out the Eastern Conference Finals and advancing to the Calder Cup Finals.
Generating and capitalizing on second and third chance opportunities would be essential for the Bears, and Liam O’Brien opened the scoring in similar fashion. At 9:18, Dustin Gazley cut into the inside and found O’Brien storming towards the net. O’Brien scored on his own rebound to make it 1-0 Hershey.
The Bears entered the second period with a dominant sense of urgency and converted on two, quick offensive rushes. Only 1:09 into the middle stanza, Christian Djoos buried a shot from the slot on a 3-on-2 into the top left corner of the net. 1:04 later, Nathan Walker converted a one-timer off a cross-ice feed to make it 3-0.
At 8:05 of the second period, the Marlies answered to get on the board. William Nylander deflected a Connor Carrick shot from the point. The 3-1 score carried into the dressing room after 40 minutes.
In the third period, the Marlies pulled within one at 5:11. After Peters made an initial stop, the rebound pulled him out of position exposing an open net. Nikita Soshnikov banked the puck into the cage to make it a 3-2 game.
But when it came crunch time, the Chocolate and White successfully handled the adversity. Peters made key stops down the stretch to preserve a 3-2 lead and clinch the Eastern Conference Championship.
For the first time since 2010, the Hershey Bears are going to the Calder Cup Finals. They will take on the Lake Erie Monsters.
Submitted by Matt Trust