HERSHEY, Pa. – Aaron Ness set up all three Hershey Bears goals, but the hosts could not complete a third-period comeback and fell by a score of 5-3 to the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday night at GIANT Center. The Monsters now lead the series two games to none.
The Bears would be assessed their first penalty of the entire series just 1:24 into the game, and the Monsters would capitalize. Zach Werenski left the point to head down the left side, collect a pass from Ryan Craig and fire it home just ahead of Justin Peters’ dive attempt at 3:05.
The Monsters doubled their lead at 4:29 of the second, when a shot block turned right into a two-on-one rush through the neutral zone. Oliver Bjorkstrand would keep the puck on the rush and slide a shot inside the left post.
Lake Erie then took three consecutive penalties in the middle period, putting Hershey on a lengthy two-man power play advantage. Zach Sill managed to bury his own rebound off of an Anton Forsberg pad save at 8:48, and the Bears drew within one.
But just over five minutes later, Kerby Rychel centered the puck from behind the net and Lukas Sedlak one-timed it past Peters to restore the Monsters’ two-goal lead.
Controversy ensued just after the third period’s opening faceoff, when Ryan Stanton was flagged for a hit to the head of Bjorkstrand. In the final seconds of the power play, Bjorkstrand slammed in the rebound of a Michael Chaput shot at 2:04 for a 4-1 advantage.
Hershey then mounted a furious comeback, scoring twice in a span of 1:54 to claw back within a goal. First, Tyler Lewington collected a feed from Chris Bourque, weaved his way into the slot and snapped a shot under Forsberg’s glove at 9:57 for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
A determined forecheck would later allow Dustin Gazley to cycle the puck out from behind the net. Travis Boyd then tipped the puck to Ness in the left faceoff circle, and from there, Ness backhanded a pass across the slot for Liam O’Brien to bury at 11:51.
The Bears would pull Peters in favor of a sixth attacker inside the final 90 seconds, but Daniel Zaar would find the empty net at 18:59 to seal the win.
Peters stopped 24 of 28 shots but fell to 11-7 in the postseason. Forsberg remained unbeaten, improving to 7-0 with 27 saves on 30 shots. The Bears finished the night 1-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The series now shifts to Cleveland, Ohio for game three on Monday, June 6. Faceoff from Quicken Loans Arena is set for 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcast live in central Pennsylvania on abc27.3, available locally on Comcast 245, Verizon Fios 462, Blue Ridge 152, Kuhn 69 and Nittany 227.
Fans without access to abc27.3 may catch the broadcast beginning at 6:20 on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WHP-AM 580, via the Capitals Mobile App (Caps Radio 24/7), via the iHeartRadio App (WHP 580 Harrisburg) or online at CapsRadio247.com or WHP580.com.
NOTES: Hershey dropped its first set of back-to-back games all postseason… The Bears had been 6-0 entering the contest following a loss…The Bears scratched LW Paul Carey, RW Sean Collins, D Connor Hobbs, D Joey Leach, F Dylan Margonari, C Tim McGauley, LW Domenic Monardo, D Mike Moore, G Vitek Vanecek and D Colby Williams… The Monsters scratched LW Josh Anderson, LW Paul Bittner, LW Brett Gallant, D Dillon Heatherington, C Jordan Maletta, D Steve McCarthy, D John Ramage, C Justin Scott, D Blake Siebenaler and G Brad Thiessen.