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Bears' Streak Stops at 10 in Overtime

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
HERSHEY, Pa. -- The Portland Pirates went without a shot on goal for the first 7:31 of the second overtime of Saturday night’s Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference finals with the Hershey Bears. But the Pirates made that first one count. Just 12 seconds after Hershey captain Boyd Kane was sent to the box for hooking – the lone call in the entire 27:31 of overtime --  Portland’s Shane O’Brien scored the game-winner on a seeing-eye shot from the point that squirted through Bears goaltender Frederic Cassivi, giving the Pirates a 6-5 win. Hershey leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1

“If they’d call the game the same way the whole game, it would make it a lot easier on us,” said Kane, referring to the fact that other overtime offenses went unpunished.

Up the road just a short piece for the Giant Center, you can pay about 40 bucks for the kind of heart-in-your-gut thrills the 6,511 paying customers got at Giant Center on Saturday night. The Bears and Pirates went at each other like a pair of ranked heavyweights, thrilling all in attendance.

Hershey had a two-goal lead late in the third, only to watch it evaporate in a span of 22 seconds. Both teams were then forced to play an extra period and a half to decide the outcome. O’Brien’s goal spelled the end of Hershey’s 10-game postseason winning streak.

“Every time you step on the ice you think you can win them all,” said Bears coach Bruce Boudreau. “But it doesn’t surprise me that when you are playing a team as good as Portland, they are going to beat you. It’s a tough road to hoe, winning four games in a row against a really good hockey club.

“We let them off the ropes in the third period; I thought we had them. We let it slip away. Hopefully we will learn from this game and then we’ll come back [Sunday].

You’d expect the Pirates to come out playing desperate hockey, but Hershey carried the play in the game’s opening minutes. The Kris Beech line drew an early hooking call on the Pirates, giving the Bears the game’s first power play at 1:52. The Bears were unable to generate a shot on goal with that extra-man opportunity, but went a man to the good again at 5:14 when Portland’s Ryan Shannon was banished for kneeing.

Just 10 seconds after Shannon was seated, Beech fired a crisp wrist shot that was ticketed for the top left corner of the net. Pirates goaltender Jani Hurme made a flashy glove snare to keep the Bears from grabbing an early lead. Hershey managed one more shot on that power play.

The Pirates got their first chance with the extra man at 8:47 when Hershey’s Jakub Cutta went off for tripping. Bears goaltender Frederic Cassivi made a good save on the delayed penalty call, just before Cutta went off. Cassivi stopped four more bids during the power play, but the Pirates’ best chance came when Tim Brent one-timed a cross-ice pass just wide of the net to Cassivi’s left as the goaltender slid over to cover.

Portland had another man advantage later in the period, but was unable to generate a shot on goal. Hershey outshot the Pirates 4-0 over the final 9:33 of the first frame and 9-7 overall in the period.

If the two teams sparred in the first, they traded punches in the second. Portland drew first blood for the second straight game, tallying a power play goal at 2:22 with Hershey’s Dean Arsene off for roughing. Bobby Ryan took the puck on the half-wall to Cassivi’s right, skated it to the middle of the ice just below the blueline and fired a shot. The Pirates’ Zenon Konopka tipped it through a screen and past the Bears’ goaltender.

 Tomas Fleischmann
Hershey responded less than four minutes later with a power play goal of its own. In Thursday night’s Game 2, the Bears won in overtime when Tomas Fleischmann fed Graham Mink from behind the net. The Bears’ first goal on Saturday came with that combination reversed. Just after Colin Forbes made a strong pinch and play along the wall to keep the puck in the zone, Mink took control behind the Portland goal and fired a perfect pass to Fleischmann in the slot. The Bears left wing whipped a sharp wrist shot high over the glove of Portland goaltender Jani Hurme to even the score at 1-1.

As is his custom after a goal, Boudreau put Dave Steckel’s line on the ice. The Steckel-Boyd Gordon-Boyd Kane trio won the draw and quickly moved the puck into the zone. Gordon made a nice play to get the puck to Steckel, who quickly beat Hurme to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. The first two Hershey goals of the game came on consecutive shots and just 23 seconds apart.

A Hershey power play was abbreviated when Joey Tenute went off for slashing at 11:56. The Bears managed to keep the Pirates off the board during the power play, but their long streak without allowing an even-strength goal came to an end just 10 seconds after Tenute exited the box. Geoff Peters was denied on a wraparound attempt, but the rebound went right to Pierre Parenteau, who tapped it in from just above the paint to tie it at 2-2 with 5:54 left in the middle frame.

Portland came out with a  fury on the next shift, but Cassivi made three strong stops in a span of just seconds, finishing in a snow angel position on his back.

With 4:01 left in the second, the Bears again took a one-goal lead. Kane made a fabulous pass on a 2-on-1 to set up Steckel for a one-timer, and the big center fired it over a sprawling Hurme to put the Bears up 3-2.

With Hershey’s Louis Robitaille off for boarding, the Pirates evened it up on a power play at 18:25. During the Bears’ penalty kill, Steckel took a shot off his leg and went down. Arsene was then dropped to the ice near the crease. With Portland enjoying the benefits of a virtual 5-on-2, Shannon calmly fired the puck past Cassivi to tie the game. Portland mustered 19 shots in the 20-minute frame, the most surrendered by the Bears in any period thus far in the postseason.

With the Bears on a power play just under six minutes into the third, a scrum broke out in front of the Portland cage. Despite the fact that all 6,511 in attendance were watching O’Brien as he vigorously and repeatedly face-planted Hershey’s Eric Fehr into the ice in the Portland crease, referee Chris Ciamaga saw fit to send both players off for roughing.

About a minute later, the Bears again crept into the lead. With Forbes on between Tenute and Jakub Klepis, Hershey won an offensive zone draw and got the puck to Forbes, low to Hurme’s left. The veteran forward skated toward the goal with Portland’s Ladislav Smid trying to tackle him from behind, Just before Smid actually did so, Forbes slid the puck through Hurme’s pads to out the Bears up 4-3 at 6:55.

Peters went off for hooking at 8:19 and the Bears cashed in on the power play. Fleischmann curled from the blueline toward the top of the circle to Hurme’s right with Portland’s Aaron Gavey hooking and slashing him. Fleischmann tried to feed Beech, who was parked at the far post, but the puck glance off a defenseman’s skate and slipped past Hurme at 9:48.

The Bears had a two-goal lead, but with more than 10 minutes remaining, it wouldn’t be enough against the plucky Pirates.  With Arsene off for interference, the Pirates narrowed the lead to one at 14:38. Konopka netted his second of the game after a tremendous cross-ice pass from Parenteau.

Portland wasted no time in tying the game. Just 22 seconds after Konopka’s goal, Garrett Bembridge scored on a shot that was deflected and subsequently trickled through Cassivi’s pads with exactly five minutes left on the third. After Cassivi made a strong stop to deny a Glencross breakaway bid in the final minute of regulation, the two teams headed to overtime.

The first 20 minutes produced lots of thrills and chances at both ends of the ice, but no goals. Portland outshot the Bears 12-9 in the first extra session.

The Bears had four shots on goal and a couple strong chances in overtime before O’Brien’s game-winner. Now they and the Pirates must both come back on short rest – Sunday’s Game 4 at Giant Center starts at 6 p.m.

“We’re going to take a step back here, regroup, make sure we’re doing the right things tonight so we can come out [Sunday] and make sure we are ready for them,” said Hershey defenseman Mike Green. “They are playing great hockey. The two games we won in their barn were tight games. At no point did we think we were just going to take [the series] over. They are a good hockey club. We’ll take a step back and [Sunday] we’ll come out with a better game.”

Boudreau on the overtime hooking call on Kane: “I haven’t seen it again. If he did hook him … they talk about that being the standard and they are going to call it. They don’t call anything else, but they are going to call hooks. It’s like every other year when they say, ‘Okay, we are going to call this stuff.’ And they call that stuff and they forget the other stuff. But I am not going to blame it on the officials. Their power play was on tonight; our penalty killing wasn’t on. It’s as simple as that.”

Boudreau when asked if he is curious to see how his team will respond after a loss on short notice: “Absolutely I want to see how they bounce back. Both teams. With the travel and the games here, it’s ridiculous. To see how fatigued they are tomorrow night is going to be a really big thing. Hopefully our team is in better condition. But they play so hard, you never know.”

Kane on the game: “The PK let us down tonight. We weren’t on top of our game. It cost us and we’ll be ready to go again [Sunday].”

Green on the end of the team’s winning streak: “I don’t think at any point are we unhappy with the way we’ve played. We’ve played well and the coaches have thought so, too. I guess we didn’t expect to go 16 games and sweep this whole thing. You win some, and you lose some. We’ve just got to stay positive here and just make sure they don’t take another win out of our barn.”

Green on his increased ice time workload: “Now I know what [Nycholat and Wotton] go through every game. I just have to take care of my body here and make sure I am in good shape for [Sunday].

Green on the team’s need to rebound from a tough loss in short time: “Everyone in this dressing room believes. I thought we played very well, and they played very well, too. They played a good game tonight. This is going to be a tough series and there are still a few more [games] to go.

“Throughout this whole playoffs we have kept the same mindset and we’re not going to change our mindset now just because we lost one game. It’s a group effort and tomorrow night we will do the same as we were doing in the last series. We’ll get it done.”

Heeeere’s Jani – Portland went back to Jani Hurme, the Game 1 starter, for Game 3. Hurme was pulled in the third period of Game 1 and replaced with Nathan Marsters. Marsters played well in a Game 2 overtime loss, and there was some debate as to who would get the call in goal for the Pirates in Game 3. Marsters has not started consecutive games since Feb. 24-26, just before the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Portland’s parent organization, obtained Hurme in a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Streak Stopped – Hershey’s streak of not allowing an even-strength goal came to an end with Parenteau’s goal at 14:06 of the second period. The Bears had gone 351:13 without allowing an even-strength goal. Even after giving up two five-on-five tallies on Saturday, the Bears have allowed only three even strength goals in their last 561:04.

Shades of Bobby Baun – Steckel was named one of the game’s three stars, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of what he did on Saturday. After taking a shot off his lower leg while killing a penalty late in the second, he had to be helped off the ice. He disappeared down the tunnel and was not on the players’ bench for the third period or the first overtime. But when the second overtime started, there was Steckel, gamely trying to gimp his way onto the ice to help his team win a crucial game at a crucial time.

A few minutes into that second extra frame, he nearly authored a storybook ending. Gaining the zone with Kane to his left, Steckel crashed the night and got his stick on a cross-ice feed from Kane, only to chip it just wide.

No Need to Keep that Puck After All – Portland’s 19-year-old Ryan – the second player chosen (after Sidney Crosby) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, had his first pro goal on Saturday night. Well, almost. He had it, and then it was taken away. Ryan was originally credited with Portland’s first goal of the night, but a closer look revealed that Konopka had deflected it from in front.

1. O’Brien – He had the game-winner and three assists.

2. Parenteau – He was a factor all night, especially on the power play. His pass to Konopka that set up the fourth Portland goal was the key to the tally.

3. Steckel – Big players come up big in big games. He had two important goals; both gave Hershey the lead. He leads the team with eight goals in 11 games, after totaling 14 in 74 regular season tilts.

Honorable Mention – When he wasn’t bending the officials’ ears, Konopka was a factor for the first time in the series, Green was smooth and steady all over the ice, belying his age and experience while logging a heavy workload of ice time.

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