16 seconds into the game Sean Collins scored and honestly that was the closest Manchester would come all night.
Andrew Gordon added his 10th of the playoffs with 10 minutes to go in the first. Steve Pinizzotto in the 2nd and Karl Alzner in the 3rd period completed the scoring for the Bears.
It was 3-0 after two and while they played better in the 2nd and 3rd periods the Monarchs were unable to get closer than a 2 goal deficit.
Michal Neuvirth played exceptionally through 2 periods before letting in a couple that he should have had. But he played great through the first 2 periods.
Overall it was a very good game for Hershey in all facets of the game. Goaltending, defensively, offensively, and on special teams, the Bears controlled the play. They did appear to tire late in the 2nd and in the 3rd but were able to continue to play solid positional hockey even though they weren't getting to lose pucks and were routinely making poor passes.
Jonathon Bernier played well I thought for the Monarchs and while I do think Hershey could end this in fewer then 7 games I still think it might go the distance. In game 1 against Worcester he allowed 4 goals and then proceeded to allow 6 goals the next 5 games so don't read too much into one game.
Last night Hershey did what they needed to, they got traffic in front and made sure he couldn't see pucks. But he still made plenty of big saves.
The Monarchs (and all the other teams for that matter) have not faced a team like Hershey until they face them. The depth and talent is phenomenal.
And I will say this too....
If Neuvirth can play every game like he did in the first 2 periods last night...Hershey is legitimately unbeatable.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Chris Bourque - he had a single assist but I thought he played as well as anyone on the ice last night.
- Mathieu Perreault - like Bourque he also had but a single assist but again he played exceptionally.
- Steve Pinizzotto - a goal and a fight...the goal was great as was the fight
Grading the Performance:
- Offense | A | I thought they played very well. At times maybe they made some silly plays and passes but overall they scored 4 times and got lots of traffic in front of Bernier. They came out strong and the early goal set the tone.
- Defense | B+ | For the first 2 periods they had an A+ and then they got tired it seemed. They still played well positionally but they couldn't get the Monarchs out of the zone and it ended in 2 goals. Hopefully it was just a side effect of 2 weeks off and an intense opening period.
- Goaltending | A | For 2 periods he was as good as it gets and then the third period he looked a little suspicious. He needs to play like the first 40 minutes for a full 60 and no one will beat the Bears.
- Power Play | B+ | Only short of an A because of not converting the 5 on 3 in the 2nd. Sure they only had 20 some seconds I think but they were too passive in that time frame. GREAT job by Andrew Gordon for parking himself in front of Bernier...I was shocked that the Monarchs D just let him stand there.
- Penalty Kill | A | Never let the Monarchs get setup and kept them on the outside when they did. 3 chances...3 kills.
- Overall | B+ | Late in the second and throughout the third the Bears seemed to tire. It didn't hurt them that much obviously but it was a problem as they allowed 2 goals. I think they did what they needed to though...push hard in the first and feel the layoff effects late. There was no rust that I could see and hopefully they will get back into 60 minute game shape for game 2.
**I will have some pictures up from the game sometime tomorrow...check back to see them**