05/12/2009 - BEARS SEND PENGUINS INTO HIBERNATION
Hershey Clinches East Division Title with Shutout Win
By Jess Mikula
With Puckhead in the house, the BEARS got off to a quick start and never looked back, as they defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-0 in Game 7 of the East Division Finals Tuesday night. With the win, HERSHEY clinched a berth in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
Keith Aucoin found the back of the net just 50 seconds into the game, tipping in Alexandre Giroux's shot from the point for his second of the postseason. Graham Mink tallied the secondary assist. HERSHEY killed off 39 seconds of a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton two-man advantage before the close of the period. The Chocolate and White out-shot the Baby Pens 13-6 and carried a 1-0 lead to the dressing room after 20 minutes.
The BEARS increased their lead early in the second period with a power play marker. Chris Bourque deflected a screamer from Giroux and Aucoin for his second of the playoffs at 4:54. HERSHEY out-shot Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by a 13-8 margin in the period and held a 2-0 advantage after two.
The Chocolate and White added a third and final goal in the third period, as Steve Pinizzotto beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton netminder Adam Berkhoel and a diving Penguin for an unassisted tally at 10:49. The goal was his third of the postseason. HERSHEY kept the visiting team off the board through the remainder of regulation to earn the win and clinch the series.
Michal Neuvirth backstopped his way to a second consecutive shutout victory, turning aside 24 shots. The BEARS went 1-for-6 on the power play and out-shot the Baby Pens 35-24.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Michal Neuvirth (back-to-back shutouts)
2. Keith Aucoin (goal and an assist)
3. Steve Pinizzotto (goal)
Notes: Chris Bourque has tallied a point in 10 of 11 postseason games and leads the BEARS with 12 points (2-10-12). Michal Neuvirth earned his third shutout of the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs with Tuesday night's win. He has now become the only goaltender in AHL history to record shutouts in Games 6 and 7 of the same playoff series and just the eighth goaltender to record a shutout in Game 7. The home team won every game of this series, and HERSHEY is a perfect 6-0 at Giant Center in the postseason. Since the inception of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 1999, the team has only suffered six shutout losses in the playoffs. The BEARS have dealt five of those six losses. HERSHEY has not been ousted from the playoffs at home since closing down Hersheypark Arena with a loss to Houston in 2002. The BEARS move on to face the winner of the Worcester Sharks/Providence Bruins series in the Eastern Conference Final. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Giant Center on Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, with face-offs slated for 7:00 p.m. Saturday and 5:00 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for both games are available at the Giant Center box office or by calling (717) 534-3911.