(Photo by Caps Outsider) Washington area sports fans are walking pretty tall...
Bears Blast Manchester, Clinch 8th Seed (& Playoffs) at the Buzzer
Chay Genoway receives congratulations from Michael Latta and Tomas Kundratek for scoring the first goal of tonight’s game (All Photos Credit: M. Richter)
For the Hershey Bears, tonight’s game against the Manchester Monarchs was a perfect primer for the mentality of playoff hockey. Win, and they’re into the playoffs where the slate is washed clean. Lose, and the season would end tonight in front of a sold-out crowd (and then they suffer the indignity of having the player awards handed out to awkward and half-hearted applause). Luckily for Hershey, they came on strong and never let the Monarchs catch their breath, resulting in a 4-2 victory and a spot in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs.
Blow By Blow
Chay Genoway got the Bears off to a strong start, scoring his fifth goal of the season just sixteen seconds into the game (Latta & Deschamps helped out). Boyd Kane added an ounce of insurance fourteen minutes later (assisted by Mitchell & Kundratek). It turned out to be a good move, since the Monarchs clawed their way onto the board with a goal by Tanner Pearson 6:22 into the final frame (Andreoff & O’Neill with the assists).
Following the Pearson goal, Jon DiSalvatore gave the Bears some much needed breathing room with two separate goals. The first restored Hershey’s 2-goal lead just fifteen seconds after Manchester narrowed the gap (assists Brouillette & Crabb), and the second increased their lead to 3-goals with a late power-play tally (Orlov & Deschamps with the helpers). While Pearson was able to snag a second goal for the Monarchs with 2:16 left in regulation (Kolomatis & Toffoli helped out), it proved too little too late.
Context is Everything
Let’s be honest, there are few in the fanbase who are going to complain that the Bears made it to the playoffs. It was accomplished in full dramatic style, with a definitive win in the last game of the regular season, and snagging the berth was a matter of points and not tie-breakers. That being said, Manchester hardly brought their “A” game tonight. Hershey was just smart enough to take advantage of it.
The Monarchs clinched their seventh-seed berth last night, and that knowledge gave their coach the flexibility to play a few of his less experienced guys and bench a star or two. Most notably, tonight’s goaltender was Ty Rimmer, who made his AHL debut in game 76 of a 76-game season. Unfortunately for Rimmer, the Bears were unusually motivated tonight, and they peppered him with an unusually high 40 shots (he blocked 36 of them). In addition, tonight was one of only two games that Linden Vey missed in the entire season, and the high-scoring (22-45-67) forward was definitely missed.
Onward & Upward!
Having now slid into eighth place, the Bears will be facing the #1 seed: the Providence Bruins. The two have met twice this season, both games within the last month. They’ll take the ice again on Friday April 26 at 7:05 and then again on Sunday, April 28, at 3:05. The Bears will play their first home game on Saturday, May 4th, at 7:00.
Tickets will be available starting at 9AM tomorrow (Monday) via the Giant Center Box Office, and at 10AM via Ticketmaster.