In another heart stopping third period rally, the BEARS took a one game to none lead in the best of seven Calder Cup Finals, defeating the Manitoba Moose 5-4 in overtime in Game 1. In the most memorable of seasons for HERSHEY'S most valuable player, the Chocolate and White again turned to Alexandre Giroux.
Mark Cullen opened the scoring in the Calder Cup Finals with a shot from the right circle at 7:35 of the first period. With assists granted to Jason Krog and Michael Grabner, the Moose took a 1-0 lead on the five-on-three power play marker. Less than a minute later, Giroux picked up his 10th goal of the playoffs, scoring short-handed from Keith Aucoin
at 8:31. The goal briefly tied the game at 1-1, but Manitoba would again take a one goal lead when Grabner fired a backhand shot past HERSHEY goaltender Michal Neuvirth
at 13:18 to retake the lead at 2-1. Both teams fired 10 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes, but the Moose took the one-goal lead into the second.
Grabner continued his commanding performance in the middle stanza, scoring his second of the game on a breakaway from Dusty Collins. The goal at 6:12 gave Manitoba a 3-1 lead. Neuvirth stopped a penalty shot in the second at 14:14 to keep the score that way after 40 minutes.
Another third period comeback for HERSHEY would take center stage, when Oskar Osala started the rally with a goal at 2:34. Giroux then scored his second of the game at 11:01, deflecting a shot off of Manitoba defenseman Nolan Baumgartner to lock up the score at 3-3. Osala then banked a shot off Manitoba goalie Cory Schneider's skate at 15:24 to give the BEARS a brief lead at 4-3. Late penalty trouble gave Manitoba a five-on-three power play, and the Moose would tie the game and force overtime, but HERSHEY would not be denied. 13:33 into sudden death overtime, Giroux would finish off a hat trick by scoring an overtime game-winner that stunned a sellout crowd at MTS Centre and gave the BEARS a one game to none lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is set for Tuesday night in Winnipeg, with the Chocolate and White now possessing home ice in the championship round.
Notes: The BEARS and Moose will take two days off before playing Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. The teams will then head to central PA for Game 3 on Saturday night. The game Saturday was the first-ever for the Moose in the Calder Cup Finals. The city of Winnipeg has not celebrated a professional hockey championship of any kind since the Winnipeg Jets won the WHA's Avco Cup in 1979. For tickets to Game 3 and Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals, call the Giant Center
box office at (717) 534-3911. Giroux now has 72 goals this season, regular season and postseason combined. The mark is the most goals by an AHL player in any season.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Alexandre Giroux (A hat trick in the finals, and the OT winner)
2. Oskar Osala (Two goals to help the cause)
3. Michael Grabner (Three point night in the losing effort for Manitoba)