Weekly Release: Bears Open Playoffs Versus Bridgeport
The Hershey Bears open the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs presented by CJ’s Tire and Automotive this week versus the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a best-of-five opening round matchup. The #3 seed Bears finished just one point behind the #2 seed Sound Tigers in the Atlantic Division this year, and a strong finish with the sweep of three games last weekend has the Bears ready to chase the franchise’s 12th Calder Cup in the club’s 68th all-time playoff appearance.
The series will open at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport with Game 1 on Friday, Apr. 19 at 7 p.m. and Game 2 on Saturday, Apr. 20 at 7 p.m. The series shifts to Hershey for Game 3 on Tuesday, Apr. 23 at 7 p.m. at Giant Center, and if necessary, Game 4 will also be in Hershey on Thursday, Apr. 25 at 7 p.m. If needed, a decisive Game 5 would be on Saturday, Apr. 27 in Bridgeport at 7 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena.
The Bears finished the regular season with a perfect weekend, starting with a 6-3 win at Hartford last Friday. The Bears scored a season-high six goals for the fifth time this year as both Steve Whitney and Nathan Walker struck twice for the Chocolate and White. Mike Sgarbossa had three points and scored his 30th goal of the season in Hershey’s victory.
On Saturday, Hershey returned home to upend Utica, 4-1, at Giant Center. Jayson Megna scored his 20th goal of the season and Vitek Vanecek stopped 31 shots in the win for Hershey. Aaron Ness also had two assists to give him 50 assists and 55 points on the year, the most among all AHL defenders.
On Sunday, in front of 10,818, Hershey finished the season with a 3-1 win over Hartford. Chris McCarthy and Joe Snively each had three points in the victory and Joey Leach scored his first AHL goal.
Ticket information: http://www.hersheybears.com/tickets/single-game.php
Game 1-Friday, Apr. 19 at Bridgeport, Webster Bank Arena, 7 p.m.
Game 2-Saturday, Apr. 20 at Bridgeport, Webster Bank Arena, 7 p.m.
Game 3-Tuesday, Apr. 23 vs Bridgeport, Giant Center, 7 p.m.
*Game 4-Thursday, Apr. 25 vs Bridgeport, Giant Center, 7 p.m.
*Game 5-Saturday, Apr. 27 at Bridgeport, Webster Bank Arena, 7 p.m.
*If Necessary. All times are Eastern.
WEEKLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Wednesday, Apr. 17: 10:30 a.m., Giant Center
Thursday, Apr. 18: 1 p.m., Webster Bank Arena
Friday, Apr. 19: 11:15 a.m., Morning Skate, Webster Bank Arena
Saturday, Apr. 20: 11:15 a.m., Morning Skate, Webster Bank Arena
*Practice schedule subject to change. Follow @TheHersheyBears on Twitter for updates.
PREVIEWING THE SERIES: The Bears and Sound Tigers meet in the playoffs after splitting the season series with each team winning three games. Hershey was 2-1-0-0 at Webster Bank Arena and 1-2-0-0 at Giant Center. The Bears, who won the final two games of the season series, were led in scoring versus Bridgeport by Riley Barber and Mike Sgarbossa who each had three goals and three assists in six games. Ilya Samsonov went 2-1-0 with a 1.70 goals against average and a .912 save percentage vs. the Sound Tigers. Bridgeport’s Steve Bernier had six points (four goals, two assists) versus Hershey, while goaltender Christopher Gibson was 2-1-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and .932 save percentage. The Sound Tigers ended the season with a 5-4-0-1 record over their last 10 games, while Hershey was 7-2-1-0 in the last 10 games of the season.
PLAYOFFS VS. SOUND TIGERS: This is just the second all-time meeting between Bridgeport and Hershey in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The Bears defeated the Sound Tigers in five games, 4-1, in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs. Current Hershey assistant coach Patrick Wellar had three assists in five games in the series, while current Bridgeport forward Chris Bourque had four helpers in the series for the Bears.
ON THE OTHER SIDE: The Bourque brothers are a large part of Bridgeport’s roster, with Chris leading the team in scoring with 54 points this year. Both Chris, and younger brother Ryan, are former Bears, with Chris winning three Calder Cups (2006, 2009, 2010) with the Bears, and earning playoff MVP honors in 2010. Chris Bourque is Hershey’s all-time leading playoff scorer with 86 points in 106 games. He had five points (two goals, three assists) vs. Hershey this year.
EXPERIENCE MATTERS: The Bears have five players (Barber, Lewington, O’Brien, Ness, and Walker) who helped lead Hershey to the 2016 Calder Cup Finals. Additionally, Hershey’s roster features two players part of Washington’s run to a Stanley Cup last year in Shane Gersich and Devante Smith-Pelly. Smith-Pelly had seven goals for the Capitals last year in the playoffs and has played in 48 NHL playoff games, but has not skated in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
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