Despite Michal Neuvirth making 24 saves tonight, the Bears fall to the Stars 2-1 in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals.

Francois Bouchard and Mathieu Perreault do the Bears only celebrating of the night after Bouchard's second period tally.  (Photo by Kyle M.)

Francois Bouchard and Mathieu Perreault do the Bears only celebrating of the night after Bouchard's second period tally. (Photo by Kyle M.)

The hockey gods must be playing a cruel trick on us. Why? Because for the first time in the postseason and the second time in 39 games this year, the Hershey Bears lost in front of their home fans at Giant Center. (And no, we weren’t there to curse them!)

Yet before you hit the panic button and start considering doomsday scenarios, we must acknowledge that this was the first time the Bears had played a game in 11 days. During that period, celebrities Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper died, May turned to June, BP ruined the entire Gulf of Mexico three times over, Team Russia was humbled in another International Tournament and Bret Michaels nearly died from a brain hemorrhage, recovered and then won Celebrity Apprentice. So rust obviously could have been a factor tonight. It’s hard to have your mojo going after that long of a layoff.

The first 30 minutes of tonight’s Calder Cup Finals exhibition played out much to that effect as both teams treated the first half of the game like a chess match. Both clubs tried desperately not make the game’s first, crucial mistake. However despite being outshot 12-2 after one period of play, the Bears were the ones to score the game’s first goal in the second period. The ever-darty and creative Mathieu Perreault found Francois Bouchard wide open in front of the Stars’ net and the Sherbrooke, Quebec native buried it past Texas Goaltender Matt Climie. Yet, Texas was unfazed. Tonight was the 11th straight game they had given up the game’s first goal and during that span they are 7-4.

5 minutes after Bouchard dented the twine, Stars’ center Greg Rallo responded by beating Michal Neuvirth glove side with a sick wrist shot from the top of the circles. Then in the third, Scott McCulloch backhanded home what turned out to be the eventual game winning goal on a semi-breakaway. As Bears’ Radio Announcer John Walton so eloquently put it, the Bears turned it on too little, too late tonight. Hershey falls 2-1. To the bullets!!

  • After tonight’s loss, this is the first time that the Chocolate and White have actually trailed in a series during the postseason. Hmmm. Sleeping Giant = Awoken?
  • Doc in the house!

    Doc in the house!

    The best The second best The third best play by play man in the NHL, Mike Emrick was in the house and dropped the ceremonial first puck. Kyle caught the scene in this awesome photo to the right.
  • Just a simple request: Can someone turn off the disney channel next time they have a serious hockey interview during intermission? Poor Bob Woods.
  • Not only was Elvis in the house wearing a sweet Hershey sweater, he was also frenching all ladies in sight.
  • First line right winger and fan of the blog Andrew Gordon returned to the Bears lineup for the first time in four games after suffering a knee injury, and was one of the best players on the ice. He had numerous scoring opportunities in the first and second periods, and in the third, he leveled Andrew Hutchinson, the Stars’ most steady defenseman, along the dasher boards. The hit, which was deemed legal, caught Hutchinson awkwardly from the side and started a brawl that woke up the Bears during the final minutes of play.
  • Despite getting the L, Michal Neuvirth was especially solid in goal making 24 saves. At times, I would even say he was spectacular. It’s like he’d be a great back-up goaltender in DC next year, no?
  • One thing that seriously bugs me about the AHL is how goalies intentionally knock the net off its moorings when danger approaches. There’s never a delay of game penalty. Ever! Tonight, Matt Climie flung himself into the cage several times to get a whistle. If the AHL had more than one referee, as Corey Massisak so intelligently pointed out, maybe they could make this call consistently. But all I can say for now is: It. Drives. Me. Insane.
  • Comcast Sportsnet’s Allen Pope reports that Games 3 through 5 from Texas will be shown live by Comcast. Make sure you join us Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week to watch almost Caps hockey on TV again!!

Hershey will look to rebound and tie the series Saturday night in front of a sold out Giant Center at 7pm. We’ll talk to you then. Keep your heads up!