PORTLAND, Maine – Riley Barber’s third-period power play goal ended up as the game-winner, backing up Justin Peters’ 31-save effort and helping the Hershey Bears to a 3-1 victory over the Portland Pirates on Saturday night at Cross Insurance Arena. The best-of-five series is tied at one game each.
The first period was up to the goaltenders, and it was a much better period for Hershey. Mike McKenna had the answer on all nine Hershey shots however, including glove saves on Barber and on a Carter Camper power play rebound chance. Peters turned away all 12 shots, and was busy early and late.
McKenna was finally beaten early in the second period. Garrett Mitchell’s first goal of the playoffs came on a hard snap shot from the left faceoff dot that eluded McKenna short-side. Hershey led 1-0 at 1:41.
But the Pirates turned up the heat and owned the possession for just about the remainder of the period. Peters came up huge on two penalty kills, but after Connor Brickley beat out an icing call, he hurried a feed toward the right circle. Sena Acloatse cruised in and stepped into a one-timer that beat Peters at 18:02.
Hershey’s first power play goal of the series would end up deciding the game. Christian Djoos spotted Riley Barber with a diagonal pass to the left circle, and Barber would lift a wrister off the right-corner post and in at 1:31.
Jakub Vrana scored for the second consecutive night for the insurance tally, whirling around in the slot and firing a rebound of a Camper shot inside the left post at 8:07.
That was all the Bears needed, as Peters shut the door on all six third-period shots by the Pirates, including a waving-glove save on a Rob Schremp shot with time winding down. McKenna took the loss and dropped to 1-1, stopping 18 of 21 shots. The Bears finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
The deadlocked series now shifts to Chocolatetown for games three, four and – if necessary – five. Game three will be played on Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 PM. The winner of the Bears-Portland series will play the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in the next round of the playoffs. The Penguins beat Providence 5-4 in double overtime Saturday night to sweep the series 3-0