Providence Forces Seventh Game With Bears

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Posted May 16, 2017

via Scott Payonk

HERSHEY, P.A — Despite an early two-goal advantage, the Hershey Bears fell to the Providence Bruins 4-2 in game six of the Atlantic Division Finals.

Four unanswered goals from the Bruins over the final two periods sank the Bears hopes to end the series in six games.

“They had about ten Grade-A’s and eight of them came off of turnovers,” Hershey head coach Troy Mann said about the second period defense. Hershey allowed a goal in the first and last minutes of the middle frame.

“Anytime you give up a goal in the first minute of a period and the last minute of a period, usually good things don’t happen for you,” Mann said.

Game seven will come tomorrow from Giant Center. The Bears have one win at home during the playoffs, which came in game two of this series.

Chandler Stephenson capitalized on a comedy of errors in the Providence zone to give the Bears an early lead on the power-play. Chris Bourque got a pass from Travis Boyd, and found himself alone with Zane McIntyre. Providence goalie Zane McIntyre dove out, Bourque went to the right, then hit the post.

Stephenson cleaned up the rebound, then hit a screening Bruin in front. He collected that rebound, and put it past a diving McIntyre for his second of the playoffs.

Bourque would get his goal later in the period, again pulling McIntyre out of his crease and shooting high. Alex Grant hit Stephenson down at center ice, but Stephenson stayed with the puck and poked it to the blue line for Bourque. He had Dustin Gazley on his right, put did not need him.

“If you can put together three periods together like that [the first period], you’re going to win hockey games,” Mann said.

“We’ve got a lot of those game-breaker type of players, and if we’re able to play our game like I think we can it’s going to be a different outcome tomorrow,” Hershey captain Garrett Mitchell said.

Danton Heinen pulled one back for the visitors in the first 40 seconds of the second. The Bears defense could not handle a dump-in from Tommy Cross, and Austin Czarnik got the puck back on the forecheck. Heinen parked himself in front of Vitek Vanecek for his fifth of the playoffs.

Colton Hargrove tied it up after yet another breakdown gave Providence the puck in Hershey’s defensive zone. Chris Porter drove well wide of Vanecek, but Vanecek bit and left hargrove open at the back door.

Porter got a goal of his own to end the period, capitalizing on another turnover from the Bears defense.

Vanecek stopped 30 of 34 pucks in his second playoff start. McIntyre made 26 saves, including all 18 in the last two periods.

“We knew they were going to come out,” Mitchell said. “They capitalized on those chances early in the second and we weren’t able to meet their push.”

Providence outshot the Bears 14-9 in the second period.

“I think it’s just little mental lapses, nothing that we can’t do,” the Hershey captain said.

Mann called “puck management” the difference between the Bears’ first and second periods.

Czarnik and the Bruins repelled an early third period offensive, then doubled their advantage. Czarnik beat Vanecek under his glove arm for his third goal of the playoffs.

The Bears had two power-play chances in the third period to turn around their fortunes, but none of them worked out in their favor.

“I just think the turning point of the game was that second period when we didn’t manage the puck,” Mann said.

Mitchell compared this season to last season’s run to the Calder Cup Finals, where they needed five games to dispatch the Portland Pirates, and seven to knock out Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

“When you’re a kid, game seven goal, that’s the one you dream about,” Mitchell said. “I don’t think there’s any pressure.”

Max Wolpoff

Max Wolpoff

Churchill High School graduate (2015) and current Boston University journalism student. Follow me on Twitter (@Max_Wolpoff) for game-day tweets or my random musings about being a college student.