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Game 1 Preview: Bears at Sound Tigers, 7 p.m.

Game 1 Preview: Bears at Sound Tigers, 7 p.m.

April 18, 2019

Tonight, the Hershey Bears open the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs presented by CJ’s Tire and Automotive. The Bears will battle against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the Round 1, best-of-five series. The match up features the second all-time playoff series between Hershey and Bridgeport. The Bears were victorious in the one prior playoff series against the Sound Tigers in the opening round of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. 

#3 Hershey Bears (0-0-0-0) at  #2 Bridgeport Sound Tigers (0-0-0-0)
Series Tied, 0-0
April 19, 2019 | 7 PM | Round 1; Game 1 | Webster Bank Arena 
Referees: Brandon Blandina (39), Conor O'Donnell (41)
Linesmen: Jamie Tobias (61), Kyle Richetelle (47)

Broadcast Information (Pre-game 6:30 p.m.)
RADIO: WQIC-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, WOYK-1350 AM, Zack Fisch, the Voice of the Bears, and Matt Trust on the call. 
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 StreamCaps Radio 24/7


The Hershey Bears concluded the 2018-19 regular season on a high note with a 3-1 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack last Sunday at Giant Center. Chris McCarthy scored his first goal as a member of the Bears to tie the score in the first period before Joey Leach tallied his first career AHL goal 5:07 into the second frame. Joe Snively added an empty net tally, and Ilya Samsonov recorded his 20th win of the season by stopping 23 of 24 shots. Bridgeport also concluded Game 76 in the win column on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Mitchell Vande Sompel scored twice to help the Sound Tigers to a 5-2 final at Mohegan Sun Arena. 

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 CenterThe 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. 

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. Hershey jumped out to a 3-0 series lead in the best-of-seven before winning in a decisive Game 5, 4-1 on Apr. 21, 2010. 

The Hershey Bears and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers are the only two teams in the entire American Hockey League with two, 20-win goalies on their respective rosters. Vitek Vanecek led the Chocolate and White goalie tandem with 21 wins, only one better than rookie backstop Ilya Samsonov. On the opposing side, Christopher Gibson finished the regular season with 22 wins, one better than fellow netminder Jeremy Smith. The 2018-19 campaign marked the first time Hershey sported two, 20-win goaltenders since the 2007-08 season (Freddy Cassivi, Daren Machesney). 

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.

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.

In the six game season series, Bridgeport's power play went 7-for-25 (28%) against the Chocolate and White. On the flip side, Hershey's man-advantage has converted 5-for-29 (17.2%). Steve Bernier leads the Sound Tigers with 10 power play goals, and teammate Travis St. Denis is second-best with eight. For the Bears, Mike Sgarbossa leads his club with 14 power play tallies, one better than Riley Barber's 13 marks on the man-advantage. 

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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