Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bears Trip Up Tigers Again

Though the Hershey Bears had limited experience with coming back from behind in games in the regular season, they’ve handled the challenge like pros in the first two games of the series against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

With their 3-2 victory on Friday night at Giant Center, the Bears take the 2-0 lead in the playoff series to Bridgeport this weekend for games three and four.

Bridgeport broke free for the first goal of the game when defenseman, Dustin Kohn, canned the rebound of his own shot by Michal Neuvirth at 16:14.

Although Kohn’s goal was the only one to hit the back of the net during the first period, there were plenty of other hits to go around as the Bears bruised the Tigers with numerous bone-crunching hits, most notably Andrew Gordon’s wallop on Bridgeport’s Mark Flood.

“I wanted to make sure I had good contact,” explained Gordon. “He was trying to one-time the puck and it was the kind of hit they have been talking about in the NHL these days, so I wanted to make sure I kept my elbow down and kept it shoulder on shoulder.”

Hershey’s high scoring duo of Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux, the league’s leading and second leading point producers in the regular season respectively, tagged up to tie the game 16:32 into the middle frame. The sequence actually started with the twosome doing yeoman’s work along the boards and culminated with Giroux cleanly beating Sound Tigers’ netminder, Nathan Lawson.

“We have to make sure we win battles along the wall, and that’s why I got that goal,” said Giroux. “We put it deep and got the forecheck and we got the goal.”

The Sound Tigers, as was the case in game one when Andrew MacDonald struck late in the second period with a goal at the 19:59 mark, received a fortuitous bounce to take the lead at 19:15, when Kohn’s backhanded attempted pass pinged off the stick of Bears’ defenseman, Patrick McNeill, and then trickled through the pads of Neuvirth.

Kohn’s marker was the first power play goal of the series after the two teams combined for 22 unsuccessful attempts.

Giroux tied the game at two just 1:32 into the third period with his 25th career playoff goal as a Bear, and his 3rd of the current playoff season.

With an ailing Aucoin on the bench, and Lawson in the dressing room due to injury, Aucoin’s replacement on the power play unit, Mathieu Perreault, beat Lawson’s replacement, Scott Munroe at 7:06 to give the Bears a lead they would never relinquish.

“The puck was bouncing a little bit and I was looking to go to Helmer back door,” Perreault said. “The lane wasn’t there, so I just pulled it back and shot it short side because the goalie was playing the back door.”

Neuvirth, making just his 7th appearance in seven weeks, preserved the lead by making a glittering glove save on Flood just shy of halfway through the final period.

“My glove was working good tonight; pretty much every shot, they were going high glove for some reason,” said Neuvirth.

Gordon who contributed two assists to the winning cause and was named the number three star of the game, attributed his team’s two comebacks to the confidence level of squad.

“We have a lot of belief in ourselves,” he said. “We’ve won a lot of games in the last couple years, and a majority of us have been around for most of it, so we’re a team that knows how to win and deficits don’t really bother us. Tonight was a good testament to that.”


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