Photo: Hartford Wolf Pack
The Hershey Bears downed the Hartford Wolf Pack, 4-2 in game 2 of the Atlantic Division Finals Saturday night at Giant Center in Hershey. With the victory the Bears take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division Finals.
The Bears opened the Game 2 scoring with a power play goal from Mason Morelli a little over three minutes into the contest. The Wolf Pack would answer with a power play tally of their own near the midway point of the opening stanza, but the Bears struck right back a little over a minute later with a tally from Beck Malenstyn to make it 2-1 at the first intermission.
The Bears stretched their lead to 3-1 on Mike Vecchione‘s second goal of the postseason midway through the middle frame, and held the two-goal edge heading into the second intermission.
The third period was a defensive struggle, as the Bears sat back in the zone and made life difficult for the Wolf Pack. Hendrix Lapierre broke the silence with his second tally of the post season late in the period to make it 4-1. The Wolf Pack added a 6-on-5 goal late to make it 4-2, the final.
Hunter Shepard (4-1-0, 1.79 GAA, .924 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the Bears. Dylan Garand (5-2-0, 1.42 GAA, .946 sv%) got the start in goal for the visiting Wolf Pack. The forward lines and defensive pairs for the Bears:
Mike Vecchione – Henrik Borgstrom – Ethen Frank
Joe Snively – Connor McMichael – Garrett Pilon
Aliaksei Protas – Hendrix Lapierre – Sam Anas
Beck Malenstyn – Riley Sutter – Mason Morelli
Gabriel Carlsson – Dylan McIlrath
Lucas Johansen – Vincent Iorio
Jake Massie – Logan Day
Scratches: Mike Sgarbossa (injury), Aaron Ness (injury), Shane Gersich, Bobby Nardella, Henrik Rybinski, Matt Strome, Julian Napravnik, Bogdan Trineyev, Ludwig Persson, Dru Krebs, Alexander Suzdalev and Garin Bjorklund.
The Bears wasted little time in lighting the lamp in game 2. Joe Snively (5) drove the zone, dangled and made a nice backhand dish to Mason Morelli (3), who finished 5-hole for the power play score at 3:12 of the first period.
Joe Snively is filthy! Mason Morelli finishes 5-hole. Bears lead 1-0. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/aQpSohxBIy
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) May 13, 2023
The Wolf Pack answered with a power play goal of their own from Will Cuylle (1) at 11:32 of the opening frame. Ryan Carpenter (2) and Tanner Fritz (8) had the helpers.
Cools’ first Calder Cup Playoffs goal comes on this beauty of a power play goal 💥 pic.twitter.com/aBCF0tVmZJ
— x – Hartford Wolf Pack (@WolfPackAHL) May 13, 2023
But the Bears would do a bit of answering of their own a little over a minute later. Beck Malenstyn (2) finished on a rush to make it 2-1 at 12:44 of the first period. Mason Morelli (1) and Vincent Iorio (3) had the assists.
The Wolf Pack notched a PP tally of their own, but the Bears answer just over a minute later with a score from Beck Malenstyn. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/hOW1tIxtEb
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) May 13, 2023
That was it for the first 20. The Bears led in shots 12-8 with both teams 1 for 2 on the power play.
The Bears stretched their lead to 3-1 on a tally from Mike Vecchione (2) at 11:12 of the middle frame. Henrik Borgstrom (1) had the lone assist.
We know Veccs is always #RoaringForMore 🐻
🍏 Frank pic.twitter.com/fFj2JZ5wJe
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) May 14, 2023
The score would hold for the remainder of the period. The Bears led in shots 12 to 5 in the second period and 24-13 after two periods.
The Bears made it 4-1 on Hendrix Lapierre’s (2) second goal of the postseason at 13:14 of the final frame. Aliaksei Protas (4) and Logan Day (2) had the helpers.
Welcome to Lappy Valley! Hendrix Lapierre snipes to make it 4-1. #HBH #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/AtasvA5Xvx
— Capitals Prospects (@jon_m_sorensen) May 14, 2023
With their goaltender pulled, the Wolf Pack struck less than two minutes later to make it 4-2. Adam Clendening (2) notched the marker, assisted by Wyatt Kalynuk (2) and Tanner Fritz (9). That would be the final.
Game 3 is set for Wednesday in Hartford.
- AHL box score
- Attendance: 9,520
- Bears led in shots, 30-27.
- Both teams were 1 for 2 on the power play.
- Hunter Shepard stopped 25 of 27 for a .926 game save percentage.
- All four of Hartford’s goals in the series have come on the man advantage.
- Stars of the game: 1) Mason Morelli, 2) Beck Malenstyn and 3) Mike Vecchione.
Go Bears !
Hartford seems to have run out of gas. They are looking like a #5 seed. Charlotte was a better test
Yeah, no question who the better team was in these 2 games. I didn’t see the Hartford-Providence series, but apparently Garand was great, which might be how Hartford got through. We’ll see if the Bears dominance continues in Hartford.
Me too GR. I guess Providence may have run out of gas as well, but you are right, it sounds like Garand stood on his head. Checkers were a stiffer test.
9 more dubs to go.
I thought Hartford was supposed to be the physical team? I’m not seeing that. Hartford’s offense has been MIA. All four goals on the man advantage.
Scouting reports are sometimes wrong, I guess. Would have loved to see some of that Hartford-Providence series.
Malenstyn has been an animal. Caps need to find a place for him in September.
I had this crazy idea that they should try him on the right wing with Strome and Ovechkin. He isn’t quite as big as Wilson, but he’s a better skater and uses his size and skating to pressure the opposition into turning the puck over. That would provide Ovechkin with more prime scoring opportunities. Malenstyn also covers a lot of ice in the defensive zone that Ovechkin… ahem… doesn’t.
The most rewarding thing to me is that the Bears are being led by Caps’ draft picks and UDFA-signed players, not AHL lifers. That has not always been the case with Hershey in the past.
In particular, Sutter and Malenstyn are playing huge minutes and driving play almost every shift. Protas and Pilon also look like better players than anything Hartford has. McMichael has been pretty good, but not great. Lapierre did score tonight, but he has not shown me anything that indicates he is ready for the NHL next year.
Among the other relatively young forwards not drafted by the Caps, Snively definitely looks like he belongs at the next level, and Borgstrom looks really good, particularly after sitting for so long. Frank was a little better than the first few games in these playoffs, but has definitely not been dominant. We’ll see whether he improves as the series goes on. Morelli has been good, but I’m not sure if that’s his doing or because his linemates have been terrorizing Hartford (and Charlotte the prior series).
I will repeat again that Sutter and Malenstyn deserve a real opportunity to make the Caps next year… but so do Snively, Protas, Pilon and McMichael, and maybe even Borgstrom.
Among the defenders, I think Iorio has been really solid. Nothing flashy, just good defense, keeping guys to the outside, leaning on them to keep them from making plays. Johansen has been alright, but is not strong enough. The rest of the d-men have been fine, but the real key to the Bears defense is the effort of the forwards. They track back hard, they stay with their guys, they have their sticks in passing lanes and they block shots. Especially Malenstyn. That dude is like Warner Bros’ Tasmanian Devil in the D-zone.
And then there’s Shepard bailing out any defensive mistakes. They really need to re-sign him, and give him a good shot at the NHL next year.
A strange thought I had a few games back. I was actually thinking there might be too few vets on the Bears team (from the Bears perspective). I thought they might actually have too much youth (rare in AHL). Whether that’s the case or not it doesn’t matter, Caps kids are doing well.
There are reports that Borgstrom is planning to join HV71 in the Sweden after this season
That would be a shame. Of course he’s from Finland so the Caps would never give him a real chance, but he deserved a better look than he got.
Borgy was a healthy scratch for a decent stretch and the first four games of the postseason. I don’t think the North American game is his bag. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t head back to Europe.
Agree with your analysis GRin430!
You named Bears who should be Caps: Malenstyn Snively Protas Pilon McMichael Borgstrom
Sutter and Lapierre at least get a camp invitation
Unfortunately, Pilon is UFA after this year. The Caps wasted his development years because the staff in DC was not interested in playing younger guys. They are going to have to make a pretty impressive pitch to get him to re-sign. It would probably help if they hired Nelson or Carbery as the HC.
I think Sutter deserves more than an invite, which he will get in any case, assuming they re-sign him (he’s an RFA). I think he could push Dowd for 4C… or maybe push Dowd up to 3C if they move some dead weight above the 4th line. He might also get a look at RW, though he is very good on face-offs. Sutter’s another guy who might fit on a line with Ovechkin and Strome. He’s got size, decent skating and hands, he’s a right-hand shot and he plays hard. He’s not a goal scorer, but they don’t need a goal scorer on that line, they need a puck retriever who can get Ovechkin open shots, and who will play defense.
Bears Finish! Caps need to do the same
The Caps have no Finnish… Just lots of Russians, Swedes and Western Canadians…
I have a really good feeling that the caps are going to draft Kasper Halttunen at 40. But there are a lot of great options for the Caps at that pick like Lenni Hämeenaho, Aydar Suniev comes to mind too
Adding all the players you suggest would be great!!
Would probably make the Caps odds on favorites to win the Calder Cup next year. May as well add Frank too!! I love the Brown jerseys of the Bears, would be sweet if the Caps could just wear those!!
Still no sellout? That’s 0 for 4 I think.
Apparently you know nothing about the difficulty in selling minor league playoff tickets when dates are frequently unknown.
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