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Bourque Wins it For Bears in OT

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
Comeback Kids – Chris Bourque’s goal – his second of the night – at 10:28 of overtime gave the Hershey Bears a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference final series with the Manchester Monarchs at Giant Center on Saturday night. Bourque’s game-winner came off a stellar feed from Keith Aucoin to finish off a Hershey 2-on-1.

“It was a 2-on-1 from about the red line,” says Bourque. “I kind of opened up there, and [Aucoin] made a really nice pass. I had to collect it a little bit there, just fired it on net and it went in. It was a big goal, exciting. It’s nice to be up 2-0 [in the series].”

Hershey holds a 2-0 lead in the series as the two teams get ready to travel to Manchester for Monday’s Game 3. Game 4 is on Tuesday and Game 5 (if necessary) would be played on Thursday.

For the second time in as many games in the series, the Bears drew first blood. Hershey center Jay Beagle cleanly won a left-circle face-off to Chris Bourque, who was positioned just to the high inside portion of the circle, Bourque rifled a one-timer past Manchester netminder Jonathan Bernier to put the Bears up by a goal at 3:07.

The Bears had a chance to open up a wider lead when they went on a power play just seconds after Bourque’s goal, but Hershey was unable to muster as much as a shot on goal with the man advantage.

The two teams traded a pair of unsuccessful power play tries each before the Monarchs found the range with the extra man on their fourth chance of the first frame. With Bourque off for delay of game just after the Bears successfully killed off a 27-second 5-on-3, Manchester’s Gabe Gauthier potted a rebound to even the score at 1-1.

The Bears fell behind for the first time in their series with the Monarchs when Gauthier scored his second of the night early in the middle frame. Hershey lost a defensive zone draw, and Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth was forced to make a pad save. But he kicked the rebound into the slot, and right onto Gauthier’s blade. The Manchester winger calmly deposited it into the cage to give the Monarchs their first lead of the series.

Bernier was at his best in the second. He walled off all 17 Hershey shots on goal, including five from Aucoin. (Aucoin’s 10 shots on goal for the night led all skaters on both sides.)

Manchester nursed that slim margin for more than a period, into the early portion of the third. That’s when Aucoin started a breakout in the Hershey end with a heady play, getting the puck along the half wall in the Bears end and getting it to Francois Bouchard. Bouchard broke down the left wing wall with Steve Pinizzotto chugging down the opposite side. As the latter drove the net. Bouchard fed him perfectly for a chip shot from the top of the paint to even the contest at 2-2.

Hershey outshot the Monarchs 7-3 in the extra session. Aucoin’s pass set Bourque up for a one-timer near the bottom of the right circle, and the Hershey forward was locked and loaded.

Bernier knocked the net off its moorings just as or right before the puck went in the net, and the Monarchs complained that the goal shouldn’t have counted. But the Bears weren’t worried.

“I got off the bench pretty quick,” says Bears coach Mark French. “I had a pretty good vantage point. I was pretty sure the puck went in before the net came off. I thought the officials did a good job. His initial call was, I think, the right one. And then it looked like he conferred with the linesman, who confirmed the call. I haven’t had a chance to see it on video, but that was my first reaction.”

“I’ve got nothing to say,” says Bourque, when asked about the net coming off. “It went in.”

A Man Down – Hershey right wing Andrew Gordon, who entered the game tied for the league lead with 10 Calder Cup playoff goals – left the game late in the first period and did not return. Veteran left wing Boyd Kane – who scored a career high 24 goals in 2009-10 – moved up to skate the right side of the top line (with Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux) in Gordon’s absence.

“He didn’t venture too far outside of the crease,” says French of Kane’s efforts on the night. “He had about a two-foot space dug in pretty good in front of the net. I thought we needed that type of presence up there with those two guys, a guy who is going to do the grunt work in the corners and make sure he is getting to get to the front of the net, which he did very well tonight. Anytime you play with Keith and Alex, those guys are skilled players. But at times they need somebody to get to those high traffic areas.”

Gordon is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury pending further word from team doctors.

What Took You So Long? – In Wednesday night’s Game 1, Hershey needed all of one shift and one shot on goal to grab a 1-0 lead. Sean Collins’ first career Calder Cup playoff goal staked the Bears to an early advantage just 16 seconds after the opening face-off of the series opener.

In Saturday’s Game 2, the Bears needed a little longer to get busy. Bourque scored on Hershey’s second shot of the game at 3:07 of the first frame.

A Perfect Six – Hershey is now 6-0 in its six Eastern Conference final games against Manchester. The Bears swept the Monarchs in the conference final in 2007 and are up 2-0 this spring. The Bears have outscored Manchester by a combined 25-9 in the six games.

Seven Up – Bourque’s first-period goal pushed his postseason scoring streak to seven straight games. He has six goals and nine assists during the life of his current streak.

A Perfect Eight – Neuvirth ran his record to 8-0 in the postseason with a 31-save effort in Game 2. He stopped each of the last 18 shots sent in his direction on Saturday.

Three Straight – Gauthier has scored each of Manchester’s last three goals in the series and three of the four Monarch goals overall. He netted his first of the series late in the third period of Manchester’s 4-2 loss in Game 1.

Gauthier is now tied with Bud Holloway for the Manchester team lead with six goals in the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs.

Dividing Line – Bernier is 0-4 when he allows three or more goals, but he is a perfect 8-0 when surrendering two or fewer in the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs.

Something Had To Give – Heading into tonight’s overtime session, both Hershey and Manchester had been perfect in overtime in the postseason. The Bears came into the contest with a 4-0 overtime mark this spring while Manchester was also flawless at 3-0. The Monarchs are perfect no more.

Quotebook – French on the game: “I thought we played well. I thought Manchester played a very good game. Obviously, Bernier played well. I think you give a lot of credit to them.

“We talked before the game about upping the ante. We wanted to take this series to another level, and if they came, we thought it would be a hell of a hockey game and a hell of a series. They decided to come with us and it was an entertaining game that we were fortunate to win.”
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