Comeback Falls Short, Bears Lose 6-4

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Posted April 22, 2016

A late timeout from Hershey Bears head coach seemed to right the ship. The Bears tightened up their defensive structure and scored twice to bring the game within one. But a late power play tally was all the Portland Pirates needed to put Game 1 away 6-4.

Dan Ellis got the start for the playoff opener, earning 26 saves on the 32 shots he faced. Without his saves in the first period, the Pirates easily could have blasted home three or four goals. Mike McKenna, with the same amount of work, made 28 saves at the opposite end of the ice.

After Ellis robbed him on a high slot slap shot, Rocco Grimaldi beat Zach Sill on a faceoff. Kyle Rau grabbed the puck on the wing and drove hard at Ellis. The puck trickled past him and over the line for Portland’s first goal.

As the last two minutes began, Corban Kinght and Rob Schremp played give-and-go in the neutral zone. Knight passed to Matt Mackenzie, who bump-set the puck to Schrmep. His shot eluded Ellis’ outstretched legs, doubling the Portland advantage.

With only 15 ticks on the opening period, Chris Bourque flipped the puck behind the Portland defense. Ryan Stanton collected the pass at the hash marks and snapped it top shelf to give the Bears life at the end of one.

The Bears fell dreadfully behind in shots on goal, trailing by ten after Brett Olson’s goal on an unsuspecting Ellis. About two minutes later, the Bears put their 12th shot on goal, a Jakub Vrana slapper to bring the game within one. Christian Djoos poked the puck free from the breaking Pirates, getting it to Travis Boyd, who placed the disk in Vrana’s wheelhouse.

With the opening horn of the third, the Bears grabbed a 5-3 shots lead through the first four minutes. Then Shane Harper made Djoos and Sean Collins look bad as he blew by them to lift a backhand behind Ellis. Wade Megan won the ensuing faceoff, and then the wheels fell off the Bears defense.

Knight beat out Carter Camper to the dump-in from Wayne Simpson, sliding the puck straight up for a howitzer from Schremp. In eleven seconds, the Bears went from down one to down three.

Mann choose now as the proper time to use his team timeout to slow the game. Portland held a clear edge in every part of the game and the Bears head coach knew something had to be done to reverse the game.

Tyler Lewington made the most of his ice-time afterward, scoring twice to put the Bears in a spot to send the game to overtime. Then C. Bourque took a last minute slashing penalty, allowing Harper to score again and hand the first game to Portland.

Game 2 will be tomorrow night from Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine.