The Hershey Bears remained alive in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The result tied the best-of-three series and force a decisive Game Three on Monday at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza.
After being shut out in Game One, Hershey finally solved Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Tommy Nappier in the first period, when Beck Malenstyn scored a power play goal at 4:07 for a 1-0 lead. Mason Morelli and Bobby Nardella assisted on the tally, with Malenstyn deflecting Nardella’s right point shot into the net.
In the middle frame, Hershey’s Dylan McIlrath scored the eventual game-winning goal at 10:16. The blue liner scored his first Calder Cup playoff goal in his 50th career postseason contest.
His slap shot from the right point found its way through traffic and past a screened Nappier to make it 2-0. Tobias Geisser and Eddie Wittchow assisted on the marker.
Thirty seconds later, the Baby Pens struck to make it 2-1. Felix Robert redirected a pass from Alexander Nylander past Hershey goaltender Pheonix Copley at 10:46.
Hershey coach Scott Allen’s post-game comments were definitely more positive than they were following the opening game shutout loss.
“There wasn’t a guy in the organization that was even a little satisfied with how we played in the first game, so we had to address it and get by it by making some adjustments, because we lost some guys to injuries,” said Allen. “All the credit goes to the 20 guys who dressed tonight, who got the job done.”
“It’s very interesting for me as a coach to be part of a best-of-three series where you are on death row, so to speak, when you lose the first game and your season can end the next game,” added Allen. “We just have to make sure we come out real strong Monday, because you can be sure they will be doing the same thing.”
Copley and the Bears locked it down in the third period to earn the win in the one-goal affair.
Allen’s closing statement was, “Usually in playoffs to win a Cup you have to win 16 games, but this year is different but you still have to win the game that day to keep playing.”
Shots finished 32-23 Hershey. The Bears were 1-for-3 on the power play while the Pens were 0-for-2.