Goaltender Frederic Cassivi made 31 stops – including 14 in the third period to help lift the Hershey Bears to a 4-3 victory over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 1 of the East Division finals on Wednesday night at Giant Center.
What was a fairly tame game turned wild in the end. Only four goals (three by the Bears) were scored in the first 58-plus minutes of the game. Three goals were scored in the final 1:14, including two by the Penguins. One of those was a shorthanded tally.
The Baby Pens got on the board first, getting a goal from Connor James at 13:34 of the first period. Hershey answered about five minutes later when Joey Tenute converted Chad Wiseman’s touch pass for his team-leading fourth goal of the playoffs. Defenseman Tim Wedderburn also collected a helper on Hershey’s first goal of the night. The Bears held a 15-9 advantage in first period shots on goal.
Less than five minutes into the second frame, Hershey gained a lead it would not relinquish. Tomas Fleischmann fed Jakub Klepis, and Klepis converted the pass for his first goal of the playoffs. Hershey led 13-9 in second period shots on goal.
Exactly eight minutes into the third period, the Bears netted a goal that would prove to be very important. Quintin Laing was held off the scoresheet in the Albany series, but he made his presence felt in numerous other aspects of the game. Tonight, his third period goal gave the Bears a 3-1 lead with 12 minutes remaining. Tyler Sloan and Chris Bourque
Things began to get interesting when the Pens’ Jim Jensen went off for tripping at 17:24 of the final period. While the Pens were down a man, Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored a shorthanded goal to make it a one-goal game with 1:14 remaining in regulation.
Hershey’s Matt Hendricks
tallied into the vacant Wilkes-Barre/Scranton cage at 19:37, netting his second goal of the playoffs with help from Dave Steckel and Laing. The Bears’ lead was back to two, and it’s a good thing. Matt Carkner scored for the Pens with just four seconds remaining.
The Bears also won the first game of last spring’s East Division final series between Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That game took place at Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre, and it also featured a spirited comeback by the Pens. Hershey was up by 4-0 at one point in that game, and the Bears held on for a 5-4 triumph.
The Bears will carry their 1-0 series lead into Game 2, which will be played Friday night at Giant Center. The series shifts to Wilkes-Barre for Game 3 (Saturday night) and Game 4 (next Wednesday).