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Vecchione OT Goal Lifts Bears to 5-4 Game 1 Win Over Monsters

May 30, 2024

Mike Vecchione scored at 7:58 of the first overtime as the Hershey Bears (7-1) avoided the Cleveland Monsters (6-2) completing a two-goal comeback in a 5-4 Game 1 victory to open the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night at GIANT Center. The victory was Hershey's first against the Monsters franchise in the postseason, and extended the Bears' home ice and overall playoff win streaks to five games.


Ethen Frank opened the scoring in the series with his sixth goal of the playoffs just 4:24 into the first period, as he rushed up the left wing and snapped the puck past the glove of Jet Greaves. For Frank, the game marked his return to the lineup after sitting out Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Finals with an injury; the forward has goals in his last four consecutive games played. Hendrix Lapierre and Joe Snively assisted on the goal.

The Monsters responded in the second period with a pair of goals in a span of 1:21, as Hunter McKown got Cleveland on the board at 3:31, then Alex Whelan stuffed the puck past the far post of Hunter Shepard at 4:52.

Hershey responded with an offensive rush that led to Vecchione's shot glancing off the body of Aaron Ness and into the Cleveland net at 6:15, giving Ness his first of the 2024 postseason. Ness was also suiting up in his 60th career playoff game for the Chocolate and White, moving into a tie with Larry Zeidel for 10th in franchise history. Dylan McIlrath also collected an assist on the tally.

Chase Priskie then restored the lead to 3-2 at 17:12 with a power-play blast from the right point assisted by Garrett Roe and Jimmy Huntington, giving Priskie his second of the playoffs.

Hendrix Lapierre made it 4-2 at 8:43 of the third, as the forward gathered the puck in the neutral zone with Hershey on the power play, skated up the left side and smoothly snapped his fourth of the playoffs past Greaves for an unassisted goal.

But Cleveland pulled Greaves with a power play late in regulation, and Trey Fix-Wolansky banked a shot in at 18:37 to pull the Monsters to within a goal, and David Jiricek netted the tying score to make it 4-4 at 19:40 to send the game to overtime.

In the extra frame Vecchione forced the play out of the defensive zone to create and odd-man rush with Huntington and Alex Limoges, leading to Limoges feeding Vecchione on a give-and-go that Vecchione put away over the glove of Greaves.

Shots finished 35-25 in favor of the Bears. Shepard went 21-for-25 for his seventh win of the postseason; Greaves went 30-for-35 in the loss for Cleveland. The Bears went 2-for-7 on the power play; the Monsters went 2-for-5 with the man advantage.

The Bears continue the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs when they host the Cleveland Monsters in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, June 1, at 7 p.m. at GIANT Center. All fans in attendance will receive an Eastern Conference Finals rally towel, courtesy of York Financial Community of Pennsylvania, Kint Corp., Penn State Health, Planet Fitness, Cleveland Brothers, Harrisburg University, Pepsi, and Accord Restoration. CLICK HERE to purchase tickets for the game.

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