05/25/2009 - EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS! BEARS BEAT BRUINS 5-2 TO ADVANCE
By: John Walton
HERSHEY completed a run of four straight wins in the Eastern Conference Finals Monday, defeating the Providence Bruins 5-2 in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series to win the Eastern Conference Championship and advance to the 2009 Calder Cup Finals against either Houston or Manitoba.
The BEARS and Bruins played a scoreless first period on Monday, but HERSHEY clearly enjoyed a territorial advantage in the first 20 minutes. The Chocolate and White fired 13 shots at Providence goaltender Tuukka Rask, while HERSHEY'S Michal Neuvirth stopped the three that came his way.
After a scoreless first, the second period saw three goals scored, two of which by the visiting team. Andrew Gordon put the BEARS on the board early in the period at the 2:17 mark with assists granted to Alexandre Giroux and Chris Bourque. With a power play given to Providence, the Bruins would tie the score 4:45 of the period when Brad Marchand scored his seventh of the playoffs from Peter Schaefer to knot the score at 1-1. Late in the period, a bad bounce off the boards victimized Rask when he went to play a puck coming his way behind the net. The puck instead bounced right to Giroux, who scored his ninth goal of the postseason at 16:20 into an empty net, giving HERSHEY a 2-1 lead into the third.
Mikko Lehtonen pulled the Bruins even with a goal at 1:57 of the third period, but the BEARS would not be denied. Chris Bourque scored a short-handed goal at 6:46 that proved to be the game-winner, putting HERSHEY up 3-2. Darren Reid would score at 10:19 and Quintin Laing provided an empty net goal at 19:03 to round out the scoring. HERSHEY advances to the Calder Cup Finals for the 21st time in franchise history, and will play either Manitoba or Houston for a chance at a 10th AHL championship.
Notes: Center Keith Aucoin, who scored the game-tying goal for HERSHEY in Sunday's Game 4 victory, missed Game 5 due to injury. Darren Reid played his first game of the series Monday in Aucoin's place up front. Tickets for the next two home playoff games are on sale now, with dates for the Finals to be announced when the Western Conference Finals ends. Call the GIANT Center box office for ticket information at (717) 534-3911.
Bears Radio Network Three Stars of the Game:
1. Chris Bourque (Boston native scores game-winner against Bruins)
2. Alexandre Giroux (Goal and assist, 69 goals this season including playoffs)
3. Quintin Laing (Scores final goal of series after missing eight weeks due to injury)