WORCESTER, Mass. – Nate Schmidt, Stan Galiev and Chris Brown scored power-play goals on a crucial major penalty assessed late in the game, and the Hershey Bears powered past the Worcester Sharks by a 4-1 score on Friday night in Game One of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at DCU Center.
The Sharks came out flying in the first period, skating out to a 7-0 shot advantage by virture of earning the first power play of the night. The Bears killed it off, but took two more penalties late in the frame that cost the visitors. Micheal Haley ended up banging a rebound of a shot from Barclay Goodrow behind Pheonix Copley at 19:46, putting Worcester up 1-0 after one.
The Bears withstood 17 more Worcester shots in the middle frame and got the equalizer in the process. Connor Carrick joined a line rush, collected a pass from the left corner by Chandler Stephenson and ripped a shot from in close through the pads of goaltender Aaron Dell at 18:31. Liam O’Brien added the secondary assist, and all three players picked up their first career Calder Cup playoff points.
The turning point came with 2:43 left in regulation. The Sharks would dump the puck into the left corner of the Hershey zone, and Jeremy Langlois and Steve Oleksy chased it down. Langlois appeared to push Oleksy, knocking the Bears captain off-balance and head-first into the boards.
The Bears earned a five-minute power play and made it count, scoring three times in a span of 1:51 to put the game away. Schmidt started things off by walking off of the right half-wall into the slot and unloading a shot on goal. Dell appeared to get a piece of the shot, but the puck rolled into the net at 17:39 and gave Hershey the 2-1 lead.
On a failed Sharks clearing bid, Galiev worked himself free of coverage inside the left circle and broke in alone on Dell. The netminder stopped the chance in close, and also got the second chance by Cameron Schilling. On the third opportunity, Galiev stuffed the puck under Dell’s left pad at 19:03 for his first of the playoffs.
Brown later collected a feed from Dustin Gazley, and put the game away with an empty-net tally at 19:30.
Copley stopped 41 of 42 Worcester shots to pick up his first career Calder Cup playoff victory. Dell turned aside 20 of 23 Hershey shots in the loss.
Hershey takes a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
The Bears and Sharks face off in Game Two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tomorrow, April 25 at 7:00 PM at DCU Center. Fans may listen to the game on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WKBO-AM 1230, via the iHeart Radio app for smartphones (WHP-AM 580) or online at whp580.com and HersheyBears.com.
Individual tickets for the first home game (Game “AA”) of the 2015 Eastern Conference quarterfinals are on sale at the GIANT Center box office or online at HersheyBears.com. Tickets for Game “BB” will go on sale tomorrow at 10:00 AM at the GIANT Center box office and by calling (717) 508-BEAR.
NOTES: The Bears scratched C Joel Broda, LW Philippe Cornet, D Tomas Kundratek and D Jon Landry… Worcester scratched G J.P. Anderson, D Julius Bergman, LW Jimmy Bonneau, LW Daniel Ciampini, RW Willie Coetzee, D Taylor Doherty, RW Daniel Doremus, RW Petter Emanuelsson, LW John McCarthy, RW Trevor Parkes, D Joakim Ryan and RW Matt Willows…Hershey finished the night 3-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill…Bears coaches Troy Mann, Bryan Helmer and Ryan Murphy earned their first Calder Cup playoff coaching wins…LW Jakub Vrana has points in all four of his games with Hershey (0-6-6)…The Bears won their first playoff game since April 28, 2013.