HERSHEY, PA – Jon DiSalvatore celebrates his first goal during Hershey’s 4-2 win over Manchester, and clinching them a playoff spot in the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs (Kyle Mace – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
It came all the way down to the wire, but it game 76 of the 2012-13 regular season, the Hershey Bears clinched a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. During first intermission of the Bears-Monarchs game Sunday evening, news broke at Giant Center that the Providence Bruins defeated the Norfolk Admirals by a 4-3 count. The regulation loss eliminated Norfolk from playoff contention leaving just Hershey and Connecticut fighting for the eighth seed.
With the Connecticut Whale wrapping up their season the night before, they could only watch and hope for a Bears regulation loss. However with the final window of opportunity wide open for Hershey, they put forth an impressive 4-2 over the Manchester Monarchs to punch their ticket to the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Bears dominated the opening period scoring two goals, including the game’s first tally only 16 seconds into the contest. Chay Genoway surprised Manchester goaltender Ty Rimmer, who made his AHL debut, with a soft wrist shot from the boards along the blue line. Rimmer clearly wasn’t ready and yielded his first shot as a professional hockey player.
Hershey did a phenomenal job anticipating and intercepting Manchester breakout passes out of their defensive end. The Monarchs’ flubbed clearing attempts in their defensive zone eventually lead to a 10-1 Bears shot advantage in the opening ten minutes. The Chocolate and White were firing shots on frame relentlessly from all angles after winning countless puck battles in the corner boards. Ty Rimmer began settling in comfortably, making saves on the next 13 shots.
Later with 5:48 left in the first, Boyd Kane on a snap shot from slot added his 15th goal on the campaign to send Giant Center into a frenzy. Kane’s team exited the ice after the opening 20 minutes to a standing ovation for their superb effort.
The Monarchs looked to respond in the middle frame, but had the door shut in their face by Philipp Grubauer. Grubauer stopped all 17 shots he faced through the first 40 minutes in his final game of a three games in three nights stretch.
Into the final frame the Bears looked to put away the Monarchs and officially punch their ticket to the postseason. But with 13:38 left in regulation, Manchester finally found pay-dirt on Grubauer. In a scramble right on the goal mound, Grubauer lost sighting of the puck and failed to cover the loose biscuit. Tanner Pearson, camped in front of the cage slide the loose puck in to bring his team within one.
However only 25 seconds later, Jon DiSalvatore quickly restored Hershey’s two goal lead. Set up in the offensive end, DiSalvatore deflected a Julien Brouillette shot past Rimmer to make it a 3-1 game.
The clock began winding down on the regular season in the third period with the Bears on top. With 5:01 left in regulation, DiSalvatore again via deflection capitalized to give the Chocolate and White a 4-1 lead.
Pearson stopped the bleeding for Manchester by also scoring his second goal of the night minutes later on the power play. Time was on Hershey’s side as the fans jumped to their feet with seconds remaining to celebrate a perfect ending to the 75th anniversary regular season and a postseason berth for eight consecutive seasons.
Round one of the Calder Cup Playoffs will be a battle between the Providence Bruins and the Hershey Bears. Chris Bourque will return to Chocolate Town to face his former team along with Graham Mink and Christian Hanson. The best of five series will kick off on April 26 with games one and two in Rhode Island. The Bears will return home for game three on Saturday, May 4. Game four, if necessary with take place the following night at Giant Center. Should the series go down to the wire, game five in Providence will be held on May 8.