Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals is in the history books with another stunning Hershey Bears victory. With the hockey game tied at 4-4 after 60 minutes, Jon DiSalvatore played the role of hero for Hershey and heart breaker for Providence. DiSalvatore scored only 3:05 into extra time to give his club a surprising 2-0 series lead over the top seeded Providence Bruins.
In the best of five, first round series, the Chocolate and White are just one win away from advancing to the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Only 3:14 into the Sunday matinee, Ryan Stoa drew first blood for the Bears. After a pass connected through the neutral zone from Peter LeBlanc, Stoa turned on his jets and walked in all alone. He quickly pulled to his backhand and beat Niklas Svedberg to put Hershey on top 1-0.
But over five minutes later, former Bear Graham Mink answered the bell to even the game. In his first postseason game with the P-Bruins, Mink scored on Philipp Grubauer after contact appeared to be made in the blue paint. Grubauer kicked out an initial shot, but Mink corralled the loose rebound as the Hershey goaltender was collided with.
However the story of this series continues to be the excellent production produced by Hershey’s power play unit. Two more power play goals followed in game two with the first coming late in the first period. Nicolas Deschamps tallied with 5:04 left in the stanza to regain his club’s lead at 2-1. Shots after 20 minutes were 25-8 in favor of the Bruins.
Into the second period, Providence countered with two goals of their own and held the Bears to just one. Carter Camper tallied only 69 seconds into the middle period to again tie the game. At the 10:33 mark, Garrett Mitchell answered following a rare defensive zone giveaway by Chris Bourque. Mitchell slapped a shot past Svedberg to reclaim his teams lead and continue the back and forth tilt.
Sure enough, however, Bourque wasted little time to make up for his own mistake. Only 21 seconds after Mitchell’s tally, Bourque scored with a laser of a shot from the center-point that cleanly beat Grubauer low to the ice.
3-3 was the score after 40 minutes, as Providence continued to pile on to their shot totals, 41-17.
With just 6:42 left in regulation, Graham Mink struck again with his second of the night. On the power play after a Michael Latta hooking minor, Mink scored off a centering pass Grubauer had no chance on. It was the Bruins’ first lead of the series at 4-3 with the clock ticking down to the final minutes.
The clock ticked under two minutes and Grubauer raced to the bench for the extra attacker as the Bears buzzed the offensive end. Then with 1:29 remaining, Joey Crabb heroically tied the game at 4-4 after catching Svedberg out of position. The Dunkin Donuts Center for the second game in a row was silenced with the game heading to sudden death overtime.
It set the stage for the final power play goal of the contest, and it came at the game’s climax. Jon DiSalvatore beat Svedberg stick side after a shot near the right face off circle. The bench cleared to mob DiSalvatore and celebrated a 2-0 series lead over the AHL regular season champions.
Final shot totals were 58-29 in favor of the P-Bruins, but in the end it only benefits the save percentage of Philipp Grubauer.
The Hershey Bears return home for Game Three and a chance to sweep the first seed out of the postseason in the opening round. Game Three will take place at Giant Center on Saturday, May 4.