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Bears Fall in Overtime, Series Even

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
HERSHEY, Pa. – If the Albany River Rats have any hope of staging a big upset and taking the East Division semifinals series between themselves and the Hershey Bears, they will must win a game at the Giant Center. Consider it done. The Rats rebounded from a 2-1 third-period deficit to earn a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 2 here on Thursday night.

Former Bear Shane Willis scored twice including the game-winner just 10 seconds into overtime to enable Albany to get out of town with a split, wresting the home ice advantage away from Hershey in the process.

The series is now even at 1-1, with the next three games in Glens Falls, NY. Game 3 is on Sunday with the opening face-off coming at 5 p.m.

alt Hershey did not start Thursday’s game where it left off on Wednesday. The Bears unleashed a 20-shot barrage on the Rats in the final frame of Wednesday’s Game 1 win, but it was Albany that registered the game’s first shot and first goal on Thursday. Just 1:15 into the contest, the Rats’ Willis beat Bears goaltender Frederic Cassivi to give Albany a 1-0 advantage.

Hershey had the better of the play in the first, and it was reflected in the shots on goal (the Bears led 12-6) and power play (three for Hershey to one for the Rats) departments. At one point, Hershey went 7:45 without allowing a shot on goal in the first. But Albany got out of the first session with that 1-0 lead.

The Bears drew even early in the second. Kyle Wilson made a power move to the net, threw a fake and then flipped the puck short side past Albany’s Tyler Weiman.

Almost immediately the Bears had a chance to take the lead when Albany’s Kyle Cumiskey was whistled for tripping. Hershey couldn’t get anything going on the power play, and then was forced to kill a penalty of its own. The Bears got the job done, with Andy Hedlund, Quintin Laing and Matt Hendricks making key plays on the kill.

The middle of the second was muddled by a morass of infractions on both sides. Ten minutes of the game passed with very little five-on-five hockey played. Hershey killed off back-to-back penalties to Louis Robitaille and Chris Bourque, with Jeff Schultz, Hedlund and Laing making clutch plays to keep the game even.

Albany’s Johnny Boychuk went off for boarding at 14:30 of the second, and the Bears took advantage. With time ticking down on Boychuk’s sentence, Joey Tenute tried to flip a pass from Weiman’s left to Jakub Klepis in front. Weiman reacted, but the puck hit a tangle of skates in front and bounced right back to Tenute. He had plenty of time to fire it into the vacant side of the cage.

With 3:37 left in the second, the Bears had their first lead of the game at 2-1.

Hershey went into shutdown mode, and did not allow the Rats even a shot on goal for a period of more than 13 minutes from late in the second until seven minutes into the third. At that point, Schultz went off for hooking.

The Bears were seconds away from killing off that penalty when Albany’s Tim Conboy struck a drive from the left point. Bears defenseman Mike Green stopped the puck in his skates, and tried to dig it out with his stick. He had trouble, and while he was shoveling Albany’s Jakub Petruzalek reached in and tapped the puck into the net to even the score at 2-2 midway through the third. There were two seconds remaining on Schultz’s penalty at the time.

alt During the 13 minutes in which the Bears held Albany without a shot, they mustered only five of their own. But Hershey had plenty of chances to score in the second half of the contest. Pucks were shot high, open nets were missed, passes bounced over sticks, and shots were fanned on.

Green had a glorious chance at redemption late in the third when he exploited a weakness in the Albany defense and drove the net. He was alone in front, and Tomas Fleischmann spotted him there and fired a pass to him from the right half wall. But the disc hopped past Green without the Bears defenseman making contact with it.

Overtime didn’t last very long. Willis gained the zone and let a shot fly. It caught a piece of the stick of Bears’ blueliner Tim Wedderburn and changed direction ever so slightly, beating Cassivi high to the stick side.

No team has led by more than one goal in this series, and despite the disparity in regular season point totals, a real dogfight is beginning to shape up here.

Tonight’s quotebook has been pre-empted because of technical difficulties.

Lineup Change – Hershey made one lineup tweak for Game 2, scratching winger Chad Wiseman in favor of freshly signed youngster Andrew Joudrey. Wiseman missed most of the second half of the season with a sports hernia injury. He returned for the final game of the regular season last Sunday in Philadelphia, and played in Wednesday’s series opener.

Joudrey, who saw action in five regular season games with the Bears after concluding his collegiate career at Wisconsin, got his first taste of pro playoff action. He skated on a line with Robitaille and Scott Barney. Hendricks, who opened Game 1 as the center of a line with Robitaille and Barney, slid up to play the right side of a trio with Alexandre Giroux and Tenute for Game 2.

About a Fourth of the Bouts – In the eight regular season match-ups between Hershey and Albany in 2006-07, the Bears racked up a total of 21 fighting majors, accounting for more than one-fifth of their 94 fighting majors on the season.

What a Difference a Year Makes – When the Bears won the Calder Cup last season, they stormed through the first 10 games without a loss. The Bears did not taste defeat until their 11th postseason tilt of 2006; they dropped the second game this time around.

Hershey’s first playoff setback last season also came on home ice, and also came in overtime. Last year’s initial loss came in double overtime when Portland scored a power play goal to cut Hershey’s Eastern Conference final series lead to 2-1. The Bears went on to win that series in seven games.

Biting the Hand that Once Fed Them – Three of Albany’s five goals in this series have come from ex-Hershey skaters. Willis potted a pair on Thursday, and Cody McCormick scored the River Rats’ first goal of the series Wednesday night.


1. Willis – Two goals, the first one on the first shot of the game and the last one on the last shot, an overtime game-winner before most folks had a chance to settle into their seats.

2. Wilson – He had a goal and an assist, and now leads the Bears in playoff scoring.

3. Hedlund – For my money, the Bears’ best defenseman on this night. Solid on special teams, and at even strength, and a big part of the reason why Hershey went long stretches without surrendering so much as a shot on goal.
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