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Atlantic Division Finals Game 3 Preview: Bears at Wolf Pack, 7 p.m.

May 17, 2023

The Hershey Bears continue the 2023 playoffs, presented by Penn State Health, as they take the ice for Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals at XL Center tonight against the Hartford Wolf Pack. The Bears won the first two games of the best-of-five series on home ice last week; a win tonight would allow Hershey to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2016, where the Bears would face the winner of the North Division Finals between the first-place Toronto Marlies and third-place Rochester Americans (Rochester leads, 2-0).

#2 Hershey Bears (5-1) vs. #5 Hartford Wolf Pack (5-3)
May 17, 2023 | 7 p.m. | Atlantic Division Finals – Game 3 | Bears lead series, 2-0 | XL Center
Referees: Cody Beach (#45), Stephen Hiff (#56)
Linespersons: Spencer Knox (#66), Ryan Jackson (#84)


Broadcast Information
Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch on the call
RADIO: WFVY-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, Capitals Radio Network, SportsRadio 98.9-FM & WOYK 1350-AM (joined in progress)
LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream, Caps Radio
Radio pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m.

Watch Party Information
Bears fans can view the game together as Hershey will host a Game 3 Watch Party at The Bears’ Den, located inside Hershey Lodge. Festivities are set to start at 6 p.m., with puck drop to follow in Hartford at 7 p.m. During intermissions, longtime in-arena emcee and Bears Radio Network contributor Jim Jones will host trivia with a chance to win Hershey Bears prize packs and gift cards to The Bears’ Den. Plus, the evening will feature a $3 TRULY Wild Berry can special.

The Bears
and Wolf Pack met last Saturday for Game 2 of the series, and Hershey wasted no time in taking the lead, striking at 3:12 of the first on a tally from Mason Morelli for the club’s fastest goal of the 2023 postseason. Will Cuylle tied the game with a power-play goal for Hartford at 11:32, but the Bears went ahead 2-1 at 12:44 when Morelli found Beck Malenstyn, who beat Dylan Garand for his second of the playoffs. Mike Vecchione netted the eventual game-winner at 8:48 of the second period on a behind-the-net pass from Henrik Borgstrom, and Hendrix Lapierre provided an insurance goal at 13:14. Adam Clendening stopped Hershey’s run at 15:09 with an extra attacker on the ice, but the Bears held off the Wolf Pack for the remainder of regulation. Hunter Shepard picked up his fourth win of the postseason by going 25-for-27, while Garand went 26-for-30 in the loss. Both teams went 1-for-2 with the man advantage.

So far in the postseason, the Bears have gone 5-0 when scoring with the power play, converting at a rate of 5-for-21 (23.8%). That puts Hershey fifth among the field of eight teams competing in the current round; during the regular season, the Bears went 47-for-254 (18.5%) to finish 18th out of 32 clubs; Hershey posted a record of 26-7-3-2 in the 38 contests in which it scored at least one power-play goal.

Goaltender Hunter Shepard has played every minute of the postseason in net for the Bears, in his first AHL playoff run. The netminder sports a 5-1 record, while giving up no more than two goals in any of his six appearances. His 1.82 goals-against average ranks third among all qualified playoff goaltenders, and second among goalies on still-playing clubs; his .925 save percentage is also out-performing his regular-season pace of .916.

Forward Aliaksei Protas is enjoying a strong postseason run for Hershey and is currently tied with Sam Anas for the team lead in points with seven (3g, 4a). After spending the majority of the season with the Washington Capitals, Protas has found an offensive groove in the Calder Cup Playoffs; he is also tied for the team lead in plus/minus with +6, and has more than doubled his regular-season shooting percentage with Hershey, converting on 27.3% of his shots on goal. The Bears have posted a 5-0 record when Protas gets on the scoresheet, the best of any player on Hershey’s playoff roster.

Connor McMichael is tied for first with two insurance goals…Hendrix Lapierre is tied for fourth among all AHL rookies with two goals…Lucas Johansen is tied for seventh among all AHL defensemen in plus/minus with +6…Mason Morelli leads all qualified active playoff skaters (minimum of three shots) with a shooting percentage of 60% (3-for-5)…Hershey is averaging the fewest penalty minutes (6.67) per game of all remaining teams…The Bears have the largest third-period goal differential (+8) of all playoff teams…Hershey ranks third in goals for per game (4.00), and first in goals against per game (1.83).

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