Playoff Game 1 Preview: Bears at Penguins, 7:05 p.m.

May 6, 2022

The Hershey Bears start the quest for a 12th Calder Cup Championship in team history tonight as they open the 2022 Playoffs this evening in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. The #5-seed Bears visit the #4-seed Penguins for Game 1 of a best-of-three opening round series. Game 2 will be Sunday at GIANT Center at 5 p.m., and if necessary, a winner-take-all Game 3 would be Monday, May 9 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. 

#5 Hershey Bears (Playoffs: 0-0, Regular Season: 34-32-6-4) at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Playoffs: 0-0, Regular Season: 35-33-4-4)
May 8, 2022 | 7:05 P.M. | Game 1 | Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza
Referees: Cody Beach (45), Jeremy Tufts (78)
Linespersons: Mitchell Hunt (62), Patrick Dapuzzo (57)

Broadcast Information 
Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch, and FOX43's Todd Sadowski on the call
RADIO: WFVY-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, Caps Radio 24/7
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 StreamCaps Radio 24/7 
Radio pre-game coverage starts at 6:35 p.m.

The Bears battle the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a best-of-three series to open the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs. This marks the 8th time in team history the I-81 rivals have squared off in the postseason since Wilkes-Barre/Scranton joined the league in 1999-00. Hershey is 4-3 all-time in series versus the Penguins, with the most recent meeting coming in the 2016 Atlantic Division Finals. That series went the distance, and in Game 7 at GIANT Center, Hershey's Travis Boyd scored a memorable goal at 10:57 of overtime to give Hershey the series win. Hershey's all-time playoff record versus the Penguins is 17-15, and this year's matchup is the first time the two clubs will tangle in a best-of-three series. 

The Bears went 8-3-1-0 versus the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the 12 head-to-head meetings this season. Hershey won the first seven meetings between the two clubs, but Wilkes-Barre/Scranton finished the season series with three straight wins, including a 3-0 shutout on home ice in the final regular season meeting on Apr. 19. Hershey went 5-1-0-0 versus the Baby Pens on home ice this season, but were just 3-2-1-0 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The Bears outscored the Penguins 41-23 overall in the season series, and Hershey's power play was a strong 10-for-35 (28.6%) over the 12 meetings.

In the season series with the Baby Pens, Hershey was paced in scoring by Mason Morelli and Mike Vecchione, who each had three goals and seven assists. Netminder Pheonix Copley was 5-1-0 versus the Penguins with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage, while Hunter Shepard was 3-1-0, sporting a .76 goals-against average, and a .966 save percentage. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was led in the season series by Valtteri Puustinen, who collected six points (3g, 3a) in 12 games versus the Bears. He had the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory for the Baby Pens on Apr. 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena. In net for the Penguins, Tommy Nappier was the only goaltender to record a win versus the Bears, going 4-1-1. He had a 2.09 goals-against average versus Hershey, and a .925 save percentage. He made 24 saves versus the Bears on Apr. 19 to record his first AHL shutout in a 3-0 win. 

Hershey's roster features 2017 Calder Cup Champion Dylan McIlrath. The veteran blue liner claimed a title with Grand Rapids, adding five assists in 19 playoff games. He leads all Hershey players with 48 career Calder Cup Playoff games. In total, Hershey's roster features 203 games of Calder Cup Playoff experience, including 30 games from defenseman Cody Franson. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton's roster features 2016 Calder Cup Champion Michael Chaput. He was part of the Lake Erie Monsters squad that swept the Bears in the Calder Cup Finals, and he struck for a pair of assists in the four-game series versus the Bears. Among players on the Penguins roster, Chaput boasts the most Calder Cup Playoff experience with 16 points (7g, 9a) in 35 AHL postseason games.  

With the AHL's new playoff format, the Bears will skate in a best-of-three series for the first time in 58 years. The last time the Chocolate and White skated in a three-game postseason series came in 1964, when the Bears upended the Providence Reds, 2-1...Hershey's last Game 1 playoff win came in the opening round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs. Hershey beat Lehigh Valley 1-0 in overtime on Apr. 21, 2017 at the PPL Center. Nathan Walker had the game-winning goal and Pheonix Copley had a 32-save shutout...The winner of the Hershey/Wilkes-Barre/Scranton series will face #2 Springfield in the 2nd Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs in a best-of-five series. 

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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