04/11/2009 - BEARS FOIL PHANTOMS IN FINAL VISIT TO GIANT CENTER
Hershey Clinches East Division Title with Win
By Jess Mikula
Thanks to a stellar performance by goaltender Michal Neuvirth, HERSHEY defeated the Philadelphia Phantoms by a 3-2 margin in Philadelphia's last ever regular season appearance at GIANT CENTER Saturday night. With the win, coupled with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's loss to the Norfolk Admirals, the BEARS clinched the East Division title for the second time in the past three seasons.
The BEARS found the score sheet first, as Kyle Wilson fired a wrister past Philadelphia netminder Jean-Sebastien Aubin for his 27th goal of the season at 13:25. Francois Bouchard and Karl Alzner tallied the assists on the power play marker. Despite several breakaways, the Phantoms were held scoreless through the first period. The home team carried a one-goal advantage to the dressing room after 20 minutes.
Wilson potted a goal for HERSHEY early in the second period, going top shelf on Aubin for his second goal of the night and 28th of the year assisted by Bouchard at 1:43. With Staffan Kronwall and Dean Arsene both in the box for hooking minors, Philadelphia answered with a tally from Luca Sbisa at 2:47. Danny Syvret and Jonathan Matsumoto registered the assists. The BEARS led the Phantoms 2-1 after two.
Kronwall picked up his ninth goal of the season and the eventual game winner at 14:49 of the third, fed by Andrew Joudrey. With Alexandre Giroux serving a double minor for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct and Aubin to the bench, the Phantoms came within one. Patrick Maroon recorded a goal for the visitors at 18:34, with Matsumoto and Sbisa adding the helpers.
Michal Neuvirth proved to be HERSHEY's hero in net, turning aside 29 of 31 shots for his ninth win of the season. The BEARS out-shot the Phantoms 38-31 and went 1-for-6 on the power play.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Michal Neuvirth (29 saves on 31 shots)
2. Kyle Wilson (2 goal effort)
3. Francois Bouchard (2 assists)
Notes: The BEARS will close the 2008-09 regular season Sunday at home against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Face-off is at 6:00 p.m., with the team's annual awards ceremony to be held prior to puck drop. Graham Mink returned to the lineup Saturday, skating on a line with Jay Beagle and Oskar Osala. HERSHEY will face the Phantoms in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs, as Philadelphia became the fourth and final team to clinch a postseason berth out of the East Division Friday night. Tickets are available for Sunday's game with the Penguins at the GIANT Center box office or by calling (717) 534-3911.