With 10,739 BEARS faithful rising from their seats for the final minute of play, the Chocolate and White battled to maintain a 2-1 lead. The game in his glove, Michal Neuvirth
leapt into the arms of his teammates as time expired, celebrating HERSHEY's 2-1 victory in Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals Sunday night. The BEARS now have a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven series.
The Moose managed to find their first goal in more than 70 minutes of play midway through the first period, as Ray Sawada fired a one timer from the slot at 11:37. Jason Jaffray and Maxime Fortunus tallied the helpers. Despite out-shooting Manitoba 13-6 through the first 20 minutes, the BEARS carried a one-goal deficit to the dressing room.
HERSHEY evened the score with an even-strength marker early in the second period. Kyle Wilson beat Moose netminder Cory Schneider high glove side for his third goal of the postseason at 5:11, assisted by Andrew Gordon and John Carlson
. Neither team found the back of the net through the remainder of the second, despite a number of odd-man rushes for the BEARS and a two-man advantage for Manitoba. The score was knotted at 1-1 after 40 minutes.
The home team dominated through the opening minutes of the third, not allowing the Moose a shot on goal until nearly five minutes into the period. Keith Aucoin
gave HERSHEY the go-ahead goal and what turned out to be the game winner at 7:17. Aucoin's fourth goal of the playoffs came with two seconds remaining in a BEARS 5-on-3, as he picked up Alexandre Giroux's shot off the boards and buried it behind Schneider. Staffan Kronwall added the secondary assist. Moose right wing Michael Grabner had the equalizer on his stick late in the game, but Tyler Sloan stick checked the puck away in front of Neuvirth to salvage the one-goal advantage for the Chocolate and White. In the midst of 4-on-4 play, Chris Bourque
was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking with 30 seconds remaining in regulation. With Schneider to the bench, Manitoba attempted to bring the score to a 2-2 deadlock with five skaters in front of Neuvirth. The BEARS held off the Moose to earn a thrilling regulation win and bring HERSHEY within one victory of the franchise's 10th Calder Cup championship. Michal Neuvirth
earned his 15th postseason victory in net, turning aside 30 of 31 shots. HERSHEY went 1-for-5 on the power play and killed off all five Manitoba power plays, including two two-man advantages.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Keith Aucoin
2. Michal Neuvirth
(30 saves on 31 shots)
3. Steve Pinizzotto (solid physical effort)