After losing the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals at home, the Hershey Bears are now one win away from raising the Calder Cup for the eleventh time in club history, and in back-to-back years. Holy Schnikes!!
But despite Hershey’s 3 game sweep of Texas at Cedar Park Center, the Stars can still draw confidence off Games 1 and 2 where they frustrated the AHL’s highest scoring team. Which Bears team will show up Monday for Game 6? The one that tried to play fancy, stick around the perimeter and let it’s emotions get the best of them, or the one that played simple, went hard to the net and kept its cool?
Today, Hershey held a 45-60 minute practice at Giant Center and Bears first line center Keith Aucoin hoped it was the latter:
Tonight could have gone very differently. Despite rediscovering their offensive mojo, the Hershey Bears could not generate a lead over the Texas Stars. With the end of regulation looming, the Bear shook off the threat of a do-or-die game 5 with Captain America John Carlson’s razor-sharp deflection past Stars goalie Matt Climie. An empty netter from Alexandre Giroux sealed the deal, and now we’re facing a unique prospect: the Calder Cup will be awarded in Hershey. With the series finally tied, the only question remains who will claim it.
If you’ve ever played a competitive sport at any high-level, you know the importance of momentum. It’s something that cannot be accurately measured by statistics, but its presence will never show up on any box-score. Watching game two of the Calder Cup Finals between the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars tonight, it was obvious who had momentum in the final ten minutes of the game: The Hershey Bears. Despite the Chocolate and White never leading during regulation, Andrew Gordon’s electrifying put-back off a Patrick Wellar shot from the right point rallied the troops and tied the game 3-3 with 9:16 to go. And after Stars’ Defenseman Matt Stephenson went off for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking towards the tail end of a Bears Powerplay, it seemed like fate was on the Bears side.
It was not to be. The Bears could not score during the ensuing 31 seconds of their 5 on 3 advantage and fretted away the first 1:16 of their 5 on 4. Then, after a whistle, Boyd Kane lost his temper during a scrum and speared a Texas player. The back linesman saw it, notified the head official, and Kane was sent off for four minutes, negating the rest of the Bears Powerplay. Hello, 4-on-4 hockey. Goodbye, momentum.
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!!
Tonight, the Texas Stars upset the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2 in Game 7 of the AHL’s Western Conference Finals. Yes, even after the Canadiens reassigned top prospects P.K. Subban and Ben Maxwell down to Hamilton for the deciding game, the Bulldogs still somehow managed to lose. After Hamilton took a 2-0 lead into the third period, Texas scored 4 unanswered goals and will now get the right to play the Hershey Bears in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals. RMNB has your schedule first and a gentle reminder to buy Game 1 or 2 tickets at Hershey NOW!
Game 1: Thursday, June 3 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, June 5 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: Monday, June 7 at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
Game 4: Wednesday, June 9, at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
*Game 5: Friday, June 11 at Texas 8:30 p.m.
Cedar Park Center
*Game 6: Monday, June 14 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
*Game 7: Wednesday, June 16 at HERSHEY 7:00 p.m.
Tickets for Game 1 and Game 2 of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals at GIANT Center are on sale now at the GIANT Center box office or by phone at (717) 534-3911. HERSHEY will look to become the first team since the 1991 Springfield Indians to win back-to-back Calder Cup titles.
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