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Bears Level Calder Cup Finals with 5-2 Win Over Firebirds

June 16, 2024

Hardy Haman Aktell scored twice, while Jimmy Huntington, Alex Limoges, and Mike Vecchione each collected a pair of points and the Hershey Bears (11-5) bounced back with a 5-2 win over the Coachella Valley Firebirds (11-3) in Game 2 of the 2024 Calder Cup Finals in front of a sellout crowd of 10,507 on Sunday evening at GIANT Center. The best-of-seven series is now tied 1-1, with the next three games continuing this coming week in Palm Desert, California.

BOX SCORE

Ivan Miroshnichenko opened the scoring as he and Mike Vecchione aggressively forechecked in the attacking zone to force a turnover, leading to Vecchione finding Miroshnichenko in the slot, who beat Chris Driedger at 5:51 of the first period for his seventh of the playoffs.

At the opposite end of the ice, Hunter Shepard turned aside 12 Coachella Valley shots, including a shorthanded breakaway from Marian Studenic and a sprawling glove save on Shane Wright, allowing the Bears to carry a 1-0 lead into the intermission.

Luke Henman drew the visitors level early in the second frame, however, beating a screened Shepard for his first of the playoffs at 2:42.

The Bears restored the lead to 2-1 at 13:01 when Limoges stole the puck from Driedger as the goaltender played the puck behind the net, and found Huntington above the right circle to put his third of the playoffs into a wide-open cage.

Hershey extended its lead to two goals when Huntington and Pierrick Dube raced up the ice on a 2-on-1 rush that resulted in Dubé jamming home Huntington's cross-crease pass at the right post at 16:42 for his fourth of the postseason; Limoges contributed a secondary assist.

The Firebirds closed the gap just 17 seconds into the third when Studenic stole the puck in the Hershey zone and quickly snapped it past Shepard to trim Hershey's lead to 3-2.

Several minutes later, Haman Aktell restored the two-goal edge with a blast from the point after Vecchione won a faceoff at the left circle back to the defender. Haman Aktell's shot sailed past the glove of Driedger at 9:45 for his third of the playoffs.

Haman Aktell then capped the scoring with a shorthanded empty-net goal at 19:49.

Shots finished 34-21 in favor of the Firebirds. Shepard went 32-for-34 in the victory for Hershey; Driedger went 16-for-20 in the defeat for Coachella Valley. The Bears went 0-for-3 on the power play; the Firebirds also went 0-for-3 with the man advantage.

The Bears continue the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs when they face the Coachella Valley Firebirds in Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals on Tuesday, June 18, at 10 p.m. (ET) at Acrisure Arena. Should a Game 6 be necessary for the best-of-seven series, the Bears will host the Firebirds on Monday, June 24 at 7 p.m. at GIANT Center. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets for this game.




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