COMEBACK EFFORT FALLS SHORT AS PIRATES TAKE GAME ONE Lewington’s First Two Playoff Goals Not Enough for Hershey
PORTLAND, Maine – Tyler Lewington scored twice in the third period for the visiting Hershey Bears, but Shane Harper’s second goal of the night with less than 10 seconds left in regulation assured the Portland Pirates a 6-4 victory on Friday night at Cross Insurance Arena. The Pirates lead the best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal series one game to none.
Portland came out firing in the first period, and took a 1-0 lead when Kyle Rau muscled a faceoff win to the net and tucked a shot under Dan Ellis’ left pad at 6:11. The score could have been more lopsided, but moments earlier, Ellis stopped Corban Knight on a breakaway and Rocco Grimaldi with a glove save from the slot. Defenseman Dylan Olsen also rang the crossbar with a slap shot from the left point.
On a line rush, the Pirates took a 2-0 lead when Matt MacKenzie centered a pass that Ryan Stanton deflected away. But the puck took a Pirates bounce right to Rob Schremp, who backhanded a shot past Ellis at 15:49.
After missing on four power play chances, the Bears would find themselves in a four-on-four situation late in the period. Chris Bourque shoveled a pass between the Portland defense where Stanton was lurking. The blueliner hurried a snap shot over Mike McKenna’s glove with just under 14 seconds left in the period, putting Hershey on the board.
The Bears would kill off a two-man advantage for Portland early in the middle frame, but again found themselves down by two when Brett Olson took an off-wing wrist shot that eluded Ellis over the glove. Portland led 3-1 at 14:08.
Once again however, Hershey had the answer. A tired Christian Djoos would make a lunging poke-check to keep the puck on side. Travis Boyd grabbed it, whipped it into the mid-slot and Jakub Vrana one-timed it home from there at 15:49.
Two goals separated by just 11 seconds gave Portland what appeared to be a comfortable cushion. With Hershey unable to get out of their zone, Harper made a move toward the low slot before backhanding a shot past Ellis at 3:12, putting the Pirates in front 4-2. Off of the ensuing faceoff, Schremp would fire from the slot and beat a screened Ellis for a 5-2 advantage.
After the Bears took their timeout, the visitors would turn up the pressure. Lewington’s first goal came on a blast from the point that dropped under McKenna’s glove at 7:49. His second would come on hard forechecking work behind the net by Boyd. Aaron Ness would collect the puck at the right point and deke a Pirates defender before centering from the right corner. Lewington stepped into a slapper from the right circle and beat McKenna between the pads at 15:14, cutting the Portland lead to 5-4.
But a Chris Bourque slashing penalty with just under a minute left in regulation would give Portland the puck for the rest of the contest. Harper set up at the left side of Ellis’ crease and one-timed a feed from Rau over Ellis’ blocker at 19:50, sealing the win.
Ellis made 26 saves on 32 shots, while McKenna got the win with 28 saves on 32 shots.
The teams will play game two of the series tomorrow, April 23 at 7:00 PM.