Keith Aucoin shoots while Aaron Gagnon surely does nothing meriting a penalty. (Chris Knight / The Patriot-News)
You gotta give the Bears this: they know drama. Despite the Hershey offense being well tuned and on-target all throughout game five, the visitors could not gain a lead over the Stars. By the end of regulation, the Bears had notched 37 shots, but all but one were summarily blocked by the excellent Stars netminder Matt Climie. It took nearly fifteen minutes of extra hockey for Alexander Giroux to finally defeat the Stars defense and create Hershey’s first game-lead of the series. The Bears beat the Stars 2-1 in overtime to put the series at 3-2, Hershey.
Don’t be mistaken by the low score; this was a 70+ minute exhibition of superb hockey. The refs all but abandoned the concept of adjudicating hockey. The two teams traded off in puck domination and net aggression. Players dove to block shots with astounding frequency, and no player seemed to forget this is the finals– even when exhausted. Michal Neuvirth, without a doubt, deserves tonight’s MVP nod for having rebuffed the Stars on perhaps a dozen excellent scoring chances. John Carlson and Kyle Wilson, too, deserve applause for their precise defensive and shot output respectively.
But it was Alexandre Giroux, all but silenced before this play, who stepped up in overtime to score the game-winner. Roo pounced on a loose puck and swatted it in with a tenacity and alacrity that Climie could not match. After blocking 41 shots, Climie was finally defeated the goalie by Alex’s force of will. As John Walton would say, “Good morning, good evening, good night!”
The Bears are probably airborne right now, headed home to Hershey for the final one or two games of the series. The Chocolate and White now have two chances to win the Calder Cup, and they seem more determined to do so than ever.
Clear your social calendar for Monday, June 14.