Joel Ward meets fans, donates blood, and talks about his bobblehead.
Caps Minor League Roundup: Wins, Wins & More Wins
The Royals celebrate a goal at home during the regular season (Photo Credit: M. Richter)
It’s been a weekend full of wins in the Caps organization, with playoffs underway for both the Reading Royals and the Hershey Bears and the Caps themselves closing out their regular season against Boston. Now that we have a bit of a breather, here’s a look at what those wins mean for the Caps minor league affiliates.
Battle of the Bears (Hershey Leads Providence 2-0)
Hershey’s 2013 run for the Calder Cup kicked off on Friday night in Providence, where they faced the top-seeded P-Bruins. The Bears proceeded to take an early lead in a game that would end 5-2 in regulation, with Joey Crabb, Casey Wellman, Jon DiSalvatore, and Dmitry Orlov all landing on the scoreboard before Jamie Tardif ended Philipp Grubauer‘s bid for a shutout late in the second period. Former-Bear Christian Hanson pulled the Bruins within two early in the final frame, but Michael Latta cemented the win with a short-handed empty-net goal just seven seconds before the final buzzer.
After that unexpected win, the Bears had a day of rest before they faced the Bruins again, and Providence used the time wisely. The second game of the series was far closer, with former-Bears Graham Mink and Chris Bourque tallying three goals between them on the way to a 4-4 tie that pushed things into OT (Providence actually held the 4-3 lead up until Joey Crabb evened things up with 1:29 left in regulation). Jon DiSalvatore ended the extra period just 3:05 in, with a power-play goal assisted by Peter LeBlanc and Nicholas Deschamps. Other goals for Hershey included Ryan Stoa, Deschamps, and Garrett Mitchell. End Result: 5-4 Bears. It’s worth noting that Philipp Grubauer stopped 54 of 58 shots in his second professional post-season game – that’s twice as many as Hershey tallied against Niklas Svedberg.
The Bears currently lead the best-of-5 series 2-0. The series now shifts to Hershey, with the next game being played on Saturday at 7PM. Tickets are available from the Giant Center box office.
Royals Eek Out a Pair of Overtime Wins (Reading Leads Florida 3-2)
While the Bears appear to have stepped into the post-season kicking butt and taking names, things have been a bit rockier for the Reading Royals in the second round of the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The series against the Florida Everblades kicked off Friday the 19th in Reading with a 4-3 loss, and they’ve been fighting to break even ever since.
That all changed on Saturday night, however, when the Royals won Game Five and moved into the series lead for the first time with a 5-4 win 9:45 into overtime. The recently-returned Evan Barlow was the name of the game, scoring twice (including the game-winner). Barry Almeida, Ian O’Connor, and Nikita Kashirsky also made their way onto the scoreboard in the goals category. Riley Gill has been rocking the net now that he’s back, and stopped 21 of 25 shots.
Pulling ahead wouldn’t have been possible without Friday night’s tying win, however, a lower-scoring 3-2 overtime victory on the wings of a T.J. Syner goal 4:46 into the extra frame. Ian O’Connor & Dominic Jalbert scored the two regulation goals that allowed the Royals to hang in there for the overtime win, and Riley Gill stopped 24 of 26 this time around.
Into the Home Stretch
Both teams are now shifting to home ice advantage – the Royals for the second time this series, and the Bears for the first time this post-season. In addition, each has the chance to close out their series with a single win – Reading on Tuesday night at 7:05, and Hershey on Saturday at 7. Expect both teams to bring their “A” games.