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Bears Bump Monarchs to Brink of Extinction

Wednesday, 05.23.2007 / 2:25 PM / News
By Mike Vogel  - WashingtonCaps.com Senior Writer
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Bears Bump Monarchs to Brink of Extinction
MANCHESTER, N.H. – One more win will send the Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup finals for a second straight spring as the team bids to become the AHL’s first repeat champion in nearly two decades. Hershey authored a 4-1 win over the Manchester Monarchs in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals here on Wednesday to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

As expected, the Monarchs came out with a great deal of fire and desperation in the first. Manchester had the better of the scoring chances in the opening frame, but it was still unable to solve Hershey netminder Frederic Cassivi. Each team was whistled for three minor penalties in the first, but the Bears committed violations of their own within 20 seconds or fewer after the start of two of their three first period power plays.

“I thought it was important that we come out of the first period even or ahead,” said Bears coach Bruce Boudreau, “because we knew they were going to do whatever they could. I thought we didn’t have any scoring chances in the first period, and I thought they had three or four real good ones. Freddie held the fort in the first period.”

Minutes after Manchester’s Noah Clarke hit the post behind Cassivi early in the second, Hershey got a fourth power play chance and wasted little time in cashing in. Covering the point after Mike Green pinched into the corner, Tomas Fleischmann ripped a hard, low shot on net. Manchester’s Jason LaBarbera made a pad save, but kicked the rebound directly to Kyle Wilson. Wilson fired it home for his seventh goal of the playoffs.

“When we scored the first goal I felt we were getting on track,” said Boudreau. “The longer the game went like that, I thought we were getting stronger and they were getting demoralized a little bit.”

The Monarchs would grow even more demoralized.

Wilson and Fleischmann combined to push the Bears’ lead to 2-0 late in the period. Monarchs defenseman T.J. Kemp partially fanned on a pass attempt in his own end. Wilson slid the puck to Fleischmann, who curled down the wall and patiently waited for a trailer. Rather than trying to force a pass, he fired a wicked wrist shot into a teacup-sized gap between the near post and LaBarbera’s left shoulder to give the Bears a 2-0 lead with 2:34 left in the second.

“Well, I had nothing else, because [the Manchester defense] took Scott Barney away,” analyzed Fleischmann. “So I just shot it. I got kind of lucky on the shot. [LaBarbera] was a little bit cheating, I think. He knows probably better than me. I was going to pass, because [Barney] would be going for the back door. But two guys went to him and took it away. So I just decided to shoot it, and it went in.”

Manchester had a chance to answer less than half a minute later when Hershey’s Tim Wedderburn was sent off for holding. As they have done time and time again in this series, the Bears’ penalty killers adeptly killed off the threat, giving the Bears a 2-0 cushion going into the third.

Green gave the Bears a 3-0 advantage when he converted a brilliant Wilson feed from the corner on a Hershey power play midway through the third. Manchester finally dented Cassivi, scoring when Peter Harrold put home a rebound on a Monarchs’ power play at 16:24. But one of the recurring themes of this series has been the Bears giving Manchester absolutely nothing to feel good about, nothing to hang its hat on.

A minute after Harrold’s goal, Chad Wiseman forced a turnover at the Manchester line and blazed into the offensive zone. He launched a shot that went high over LaBarbera’s glove to give the Bears an impenetrable 4-1 lead with just 2:34 to go.

Keeping them down when they’re beaten is a trademark of Boudreau’s Bears.

“Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t,” explained the bench boss, “but we really preach attacking all the time. Maybe it’s from me growing up and watching too many football games where they’ve got a big lead in the fourth quarter and then you sit back and the next thing you know you’ve got a two-point lead with 10 seconds to go.

“We want to attack. We try to make them believe that all we really change is the responsibilities. You’ve got to be a little sharper with responsibilities when you’ve got the lead, but we don’t want to sit back. We were still forechecking when it was 3-1 and we were still attacking. Chad made a great check and it was a rocket. It was just a rocket.”

The game took a strange twist with an off-ice incident in the game’s waning seconds. The Bears’ Kip Brennan was in the box serving a fighting major, when suddenly an altercation broke out between he and a Manchester fan seated next to the box.

The fan probably figured than Brennan couldn’t get to him because of the glass surrounding the box, but he figured wrong. Brennan was able to reach his thick arm between the glass that surrounds the ice and the perpendicular sheet of glass that separates the penalty box from the seats. The two jousted a bit before security intervened, and the incident ended with Brennan grabbing a handful of shirt off the fan’s back.

“We were chirping back and forth and the fan took it a little [too] far,” said Brennan. “It happened, and I’m glad it got broken up and no one got hurt.”

“That guy made a mistake,” opined Boudreau. “I don’t think Kip was over there doing something. I didn’t see it, but I’ve got to think that guy came over and initiated the whole thing. But I’ll have to talk to Kip and look at the tape myself and see what happened. He needs a new shirt, that guy.”

Whereupon one of the sharp-witted wags in attendance noted, “He’s probably going to be getting a bright orange one.”

QUOTEBOOK
Boudreau
On how he felt late in the game:
“When they made it 3-1 I was still worried because we’ve had them come back, and I kept thinking about Portland in Game 3 last year. When Chad [Wiseman] scored that goal I felt a little more relaxed. I thought that hurt them a little bit.”

On Manchester not getting any bounces in the series:
“Yeah, that’s too bad. It’s the way it is. Detroit was in the same situation this week against Anaheim. Sometimes teams get bounces, and sometimes they don’t. We’ve been fortunate in this series that we’re the ones who have gotten the bounces.”

On whether the Bears are doing anything differently in this series than against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton:
“We try to play a simple game. We try to just work hard every night. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. The whole thing in the American League is consistency. And I think our record shows that we’re fairly consistent. Even when we lose, we don’t lose by a lot. That’s something they take a lot of pride in, coming and working every night and working hard. If we get a bad bounce or we get beat, then so be it. But we feel pretty comfortable when we have the big fella in there.”

On whether the game might have been different if Clarke had scored instead of hitting the post early in the second:
“Who knows? It could have. It definitely would have made them believe a little bit more. Every time you score when you’re at home, the momentum jumps for you, and you’re going to go after it and you’re going to feel good about yourself. It hit the post, and I think it was less than a few minutes later that we came down and scored our goal.”

On whether he’s worried about the Bears losing their focus between now and Saturday’s Game 4:
“It’s not going to be difficult at all, because we play Saturday-Sunday. It’s not like playing Saturday and then you’ve got another four days off. If we don’t come to play Saturday and they get momentum, they can turn right around and make it a 3-2 series in a heartbeat. We want to play as hard as we can and we want to win every game. I don’t think there is going to be any loss of focus on Saturday night.”

Cassivi
On the game:
“They played hard, especially in the first period. We have to give ourselves a little bit of credit here. I think we answered by playing hard also. They didn’t make it easy for us. The score made it look like an easy game, but it wasn’t. It was a tough game. We had to work for it and we did, and we had success.”

Brennan
On the gap between the glass:
“I’m not worried about me. I’m more worried about him. Unfortunately fans sometimes take it to the next level. They have to respect the players and vice versa.”

On being in the lineup for Game 3:
“They’re a fast-paced team. Obviously the physical part really isn’t their game. It’s the speed and transition, and they’re really good at that. He put me in the lineup, it’s either me or Louis. We take turns throughout the playoffs and we bring our physical presence.”

NOTEBOOK
Lineup Changes – Hershey installed winger Brennan into the lineup, scratching Louis Robitaille. Defenseman Dean Arsene did not play on Wednesday. Tim Wedderburn replaced him in the lineup.

Manchester made a pair of changes to its defensive alignment for Wednesday’s Game 3, and also made a change up front.  The Monarchs went with Jeff Likens and Richard Petiot on the backline in place of Bryan Schmidt and Oleg Tverdovsky. Tverdovsky suffered an injury in Sunday’s Game 2 at Giant Center in Hershey.

The Monarchs also inserted forward Shay Stephenson into the lineup in place of Petr Kanko.

First Up – The Bears are now 7-0 when scoring the game’s first goal and 4-2 when allowing game’s first goal in the playoffs this spring.

Power Surge – With a pair of power play strikes on Wednesday, Hershey has scored multiple power play goals in five straight games. The Bears have tallied more than one power play goal in nine of their first 13 games during the 2007 Calder Cup playoffs. Hershey has been blanked with the extra man three times, the first three games of the East Division finals against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Great Wall of Hershey – Cassivi has not allowed an even strength goal in the last 137:13, going back to early in the third period of Saturday night’s Game 1 at Giant Center. The veteran Bears goaltender is now 27-7 in the playoffs over the last two seasons, with three of those losses coming in overtime.

Streaking – Wilson has a goal in four straight games. He has five goals and seven points during that span … Green has a five-game scoring streak (four goals, four assists) in the works. He has scored a goal in three straight contests … Barney has a four-game scoring streak (four goals, four assists) … Wiseman has a four-game scoring streak (two goals, two assists) working.

Moving On Up – Fleischmann now ranks third in AHL playoff scoring with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists). Scott Barney is tied for fourth with 16 points (seven goals, nine assists). Wilson is tied for ninth with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists).

Green leads all AHL defensemen with seven playoff goals and is second with 13 points. He leads the league with six power play goals; Barney and Wilson are tied for third with four each.

Magic Number – Fleischmann’s second period goal and Wiseman’s third period goal both came at the 17:26 mark of their respective periods.

Look Who’s Here – As some of the Bears were departing the hotel for the short walk over to Verizon Wireless Arena, they were met in the lobby by a familiar face. Ex-Cap and ex-Bear Graham Mink made the drive from his home in Vermont to see his former teammates take on the Monarchs here on Wednesday.

Mink was a key cog on the 2006 Calder Cup champion Bears team. He returned from sports hernia surgery just in time for the playoffs, and totaled eight goals and 21 points in 21 playoff contests. Mink signed with the San Jose Sharks for 2006-07, and spent the season with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. Mink registered 31 goals, 32 assists and 63 points with Worcester, establishing career highs in all three categories. The 28-year-old right wing added a goal and six points in six postseason tilts.

On This Date – On May 23, 1994, the Portland Pirates defeated Moncton 4-3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Calder Cup final series. Goaltender Olie Kolzig made 37 saves for Portland.

CAPS.COM’s THREE STARS

1. Cassivi – He kept the game scoreless until the Bears’ attack could get started. He also made some fine saves later on to keep Manchester off the board. The Monarchs’ lone goal came on a power play, and on a rebound. Cassivi was credited with 34 saves on the night.

2. Fleischmann – Quite simply a dazzling performance. He worked his wizardry with the puck throughout the evening, and finished with a goal and two assists. Flash’s goal was a work of art.

3. Wilson – Scored the game’s first goal, and made a couple nice plays to set up the next two. His pass to Green for the third goal was terrific thread-the-needle dish through the skates of a Manchester defender.

Honorable Mention – The entire Bears defense was again excellent. The coverage down low and in front of the net was good, and all six Bears blueliners had good sticks on this night.
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