Game Five on Tap – 5/11

Greetings from the GC!

With limited time today, we take you to this link of tonight’s game notes.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has a pretty decent road record in game fives, but the Bears also have a good one coming off of a loss.

Let’s do this, and push their backs to the edge!



Offense Found – 5/9

Greetings from Mohegan Sun Arena!

Your Hershey Bears found a way to grab a win in this building in the postseason.  It took a long time – nine years and two calendar days, to be precise – but the Bears won.  And they also won for the second consecutive night to take a two-games-to-one series lead in the Atlantic Division Finals.

Contribution from all forward lines was a big help during the regular season.  Here in the postseason, it really helps.  Rarely does a team lose a game when all four lines tally a point, and that is what happened on Saturday.  Chris Bourque (line 1) scored twice.  Jakub Vrana (line 2) tallied what ended up to be the game-winning goal.  Chandler Stephenson (line 3) assisted on three goals for Hershey’s first three-point effort of the season.  And Ryan Bourque (line 4) set up Dustin Gazley’s key first-period goal that cooled off a hot start for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Another neat stat was that a part of all three defensive pairs also contributed at least one assist (Bowey, Ness, Djoos).

That’s what I would call a total team effort, adding in the continued strong play of goaltender Justin Peters.

Tonight is a huge game, however.  The Penguins will bring their first-period effort times 1,000, not wanting to drop both home games in the middle of this series.  They want a game six.  For Hershey, a big weight would be lifted with a victory that would send this series back to Chocolatetown for Wednesday’s game five…more on that later.

Air time is at 6:25 tonight, and the puck drops at 7:05.  Matt Trust joins me for the call once again… I hope you can tune in.  Follow this link for the broadcast information and all of tonight’s game notes.

Talk to you soon Bears Nation!



FINAL: Penguins 0 at Bears 2 (Series Tied 1-1)

A large bounce back was needed for the Chocolate and White to even the series at a game a piece against the Penguins. The Bears were attacking with their speed early and finally broke through Casey DeSmith.

Dustin Gazley was poised to return to the lineup, and he was a solid contribution on the ice from the get-go. Gazley turned on his jets entering the offensive zone shorthanded and set up Sean Collins. Going forehand-backhand, Collins scored into an empty net to open the scoring at 12:43. It was the third shorthanded goal yielded by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the young postseason.

The Bears doubled their lead in similar fashion by using its speed on the entries. Jakub Vrana entered the zone, circled the net and traded with Madison Bowey. Vrana then found Carter Camper on a bad angle, but he beat DeSmith to the short side.

All Hershey in the opening 20 minutes with a 10-5 shot advantage and 2-0 lead into the dressing room.

The Bears whiff on a 5-on-3 chance for 1:55, but the defensive game remained strong. Wilkes-Barre continued to get pressed out of grade “A” opportunities from in close. The 2-0 lead would carry into the locker room after 40 minutes.

Justin Peters would shut the door in the third period to complete the 27 save clean sheet, and his second shutout of the season.

Casey DeSmith opened the series with a shutout, and Peters returned the favor to knot the series.

We switch to Mohegan Sun Arena for Games 3 and 4 beginning tomorrow at 7:05 PM. Time to invade the casino and fill it with Chocolate and White.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Short Term Memory – 5/6

It is a position the Hershey Bears have already found themselves in this postseason: Losing the first game of a series. In the short best-of-five against the Portland Pirates, the Bears responded in Game 2 to even the series before winning in five.

The Chocolate and White enter Friday’s Game 2 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins looking for similar fate. A win tonight for the Bears guarantees another home game on Wednesday at GIANT Center. A loss would put Hershey down 2-0 in a best-of-seven with two games on the road following.

Justin Peters will rematch Casey DeSmith in goal. Better starts will have to be a key for the Bears tonight. Wednesday, the Penguins scored on the first shot of the first and second periods to mount their 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Air time is 6:20, puck drop is 7 PM.

Time to take care of business and even the series.

Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL: Penguins 4 at Bears 0

It’s round two at GIANT Center to claim a champion of the Atlantic Division. The Hershey Bears hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the opening game of the best-of-seven series at GIANT Center.

A long layoff for the Penguins worked to their benefit, as they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead only 45 seconds in. Daniel Sprong used his speed to split two Hershey defenders and fire off a chance all alone with Justin Peters. Sprong beat Peters high-glove side for the only tally of the period.

The Bears settled in defensively shortly after and continued their flawless shot blocking from the opening round. Peters stopped a key penalty shot in the final minute on Jake Guentzel to hold the deficit to one goal.

Wilkes-Barre doubled their lead in the middle stanza similar in fashion to the first period. In the first, the Penguins scored on their first shot. Fast forward to the second period, Carter Rowney scored 14 seconds into the period on the Pens’ first shot.

Hershey, again, settled in defensively following the goal and began firing away on Casey DeSmith. Jakub Vrana nearly capitalized on a timing play following a cross ice feed on a rush, and Christian Djoos was stone-walled on the door step in the later stages. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton leads in shots 27-18 after 40 minutes and have also been winning the majority of face-offs.

Into the third, Wilkes-Barre shut the door on the power play. Sprong scored his second of the game and fifth of the postseason at 7:04 to break the game open. With 2:53 left, captain Tom Kostopoulos added a shorthanded empty net goal to round out a 4-0 final.

Game 2 of the series is on Friday at GIANT Center. No reason to panic, as the Bears lost the first game of a shorter, best-of-five series in Portland. It’s a longer series against the Penguins, but there is no time at all to dwell after this Game 1 setback.

Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL: Pirates 1 at Bears 2 (HER Wins Series 3-2)

Tensity, physicality and pace. The qualities needed for an epic, winner-take all game were all seen from the get go of Game 5. The Hershey Bears and Portland Pirates squared off to decide the best of five series, and establish who will move on to the second round and battle the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

The Chocolate and White struck first for the fourth time of the series thanks to Sean Collins. With 5:41 left in the first, Liam O’Brien sent a perfect pass from the trapezoid to Collins on the face off dot. It was the lone tally of the period putting Hershey in control after one period.

On an odd-man rush, the Bears doubled their lead at 9:29 of the second period. Jakub Vrana dropped a feed to Ryan Stanton, who beat Mike McKenna low to the ice. McKenna immediately looked to the rafters on the goal, probably wishing he could have it back. On the opposite end, Justin Peters channeled his inner Freddie Cassivi. Peters was the star the remainder of the frame with key stops on odd-man rushes.

The Pirates would cut the Bears’ lead in half only 2:51 into the third period. Wayne Simpson deflected a Michael Matheson shot to claw back into the hockey game. But, defense has been key for the Chocolate and White all series long. Another tremendous effort blocking shots and jamming passing lanes by the Bears led to a 2-1 finish.

The Hershey Bears knock off the Portland Pirates in five games to advance to the Atlantic Division Finals.

Submitted by Matt Trust 

The Penguins Get… 5/1

Greetings from the GC!

To the BEST, LOUDEST, and AHL-LEADING fan base attendance-wise, THANK YOU.  That’s how tonight needs to start.  The Bears players, coaches and staff alike all need to send a sincere thanks to the crowd that was here last night.  Two nights after a triple-overtime heartbreaker, nearly 9,000 were in the Den and were standing after every good play that was made.

The goal by Travis Boyd.  LOUD.

The power-play goal by Chris Bourque and the ensuing center-ice hug with Zach Sill, Carter Camper and Bourque.  LOUDER.

Shot block after shot block on a Portland five-on-three – Garrett Mitchell, Sill, Ryan Bourque.  EVEN LOUDER.

Ryan Bourque rolls the puck out of the Hershey zone with less than six seconds to play in regulation.  LOUDER STILL.

Final horn.  Center ice stick salute.  Justin Peters announced as first star.  LOUDEST YET.

There is no denying that the fans were into it, and there is no denying that the players fed off of it.

Game five is 2 1/2 hours away and it’s all thanks to the fans that it is.

I cannot fathom that Troy Mann would make any lineup changes, but without a morning meeting today – a chance for the team to rest up – nothing is positive just yet.  We will have some information within the 3:00 hour on that.  I can tell you that everybody on the Hershey side came out of that battle unscathed.  Portland defenseman Dylan Olsen did not, and I have to guess is unavailable tonight.  To me, that gives the Pirates a slight edge as they will get fresh body on their blue line, one of (again, a guess) either Sena Acolatse or Mackenzie Weegar.  Both played in last Saturday’s game two, but that only because crafty Mike Matheson was still on NHL duty with the Florida Panthers.

Very simple recipe tonight: win, and move on to play the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.  Today’s demeanor was a lot less lively than yesterday, and that’s a good thing.  Focus is paramount.

The results will come.

Game notes are set right here, which includes broadcast information as well.  Caps Radio 24/7 will pick up the broadcast as well for all of you who crave the organizational fix (Caps and Stingrays are both off tonight).  It’s the only AHL game in town, as all other teams await the start of the second round.

Join AHL and Hershey Hall-of-Famer Mitch Lamoureux, Frank Schofield and I for the call beginning at 4:20.  The puck drops at 5:00.



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