HERSHEY, Pa. – Jon DiSalvatore scored a pair of third-period goals to help push the HERSHEY BEARS into the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 4-2 decision over the Manchester Monarchs on Sunday evening in front of a sellout crowd of 10,984 fans at GIANT Center.
The Bears entered the game controlling their own playoff fate, and were looking for a strong start. Off of the opening faceoff, the Bears carried into the Manchester zone with Nicolas Deschamps leading the way. After collecting a drop pass from Deschamps, Michael Latta threw the puck back to the left point where Chay Genoway was waiting. He launched a shot from long range that dipped under the glove hand of Monarchs rookie netminder Ty Rimmer and into the net just 16 seconds into the contest, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after missing on the first power play of the game, the Bears forged ahead by a 2-0 count at the 14:12 mark. After countless big saves from Rimmer, the goaltender faced Boyd Kane all alone at the inside right hash mark after the captain dug the puck out from the boards. Kane picked his spot and beat Rimmer to the blocker side for his 15th goal of the season.
The Bears would then face their first adversity of the night, which was 48 seconds’ worth of a two-man Manchester power play. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made two spectacular saves as the advantage ticked down, allowing the Bears to hold their lead at the first intermission.
Neither team was able to score in the middle frame, which featured forward Joey Crabb being tagged with a double-minor penalty for high sticking with eight seconds remaining in the period. The Bears killed off all of the carry-over time, but Manchester finally struck at the 6:22 mark of the third at even strength. Grubauer made two good saves on Andy Andreoff from in close, but the puck sat uncovered at his skates and allowed Tanner Pearson to chip it home.
The Bears answered right back, and regained the two-goal lead just 25 seconds later. Crabb worked the puck to Julien Brouillette at the center point. The defenseman let a wrist shot go that was tipped by DiSalvatore on its way to the net. The puck changed direction and beat Rimmer to the glove side for a 3-1 Hershey lead. DiSalvatore then deflected another shot for his second of the period while the Bears worked a power play. This time, Dmitry Orlov’s low blast was ramped into the upper left corner at 14:59, extending the Bears lead to 4-1.
Manchester would keep the Bears from a perfect penalty kill when David Kolomatis sent a slap shot through a screen with 2:16 left to play. Pearson got a small piece of the puck to send it past Grubauer.
Rimmer made 36 saves on 40 Hershey shots in his AHL debut, while Grubauer improved to 15-9-2 with a 23-save effort. The Bears finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-5 on the penalty kill.
With the win, the Hershey Bears clinched the eighth and final playoff spot and earned the right to face the Providence Bruins in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The two teams will play a 2-2-1 format, with the Bears opening on the road in Rhode Island having earned the lower seed. The series will shift to Hershey for Game Three and, if necessary, Game Four.
In conjunction with the American Hockey League, the Bears announce the following Eastern Conference quarterfinal schedule for the best-of-five series:
Game One – Friday, April 26, 7:05 PM – Hershey at Providence (Dunkin’ Donuts Center)
Game Two – Sunday, April 28, 3:05 PM – Hershey at Providence (Dunkin’ Donuts Center)
Game Three – Saturday, May 4, 7:00 PM – Providence at Hershey (GIANT Center)
Game Four – Sunday, May 5, 5:00 PM – Providence at Hershey (GIANT Center) *
Game Five – Wednesday, May 8, 7:05 PM – Hershey at Providence (Dunkin’ Donuts Center) *
* If Necessary
Tickets for Game Three of the series are on sale at the GIANT Center box office, by calling (717) 508-BEAR, or online at TicketMaster.com.