The Providence Bruins staved off elimination Sunday night at Giant Center, defeating the Hershey Bears in thrilling fashion by a 5-4 score. Facing a 4-3 deficit after Tom Wilson netted his first pro goal with 4:40 remaining; the Bruins went on to score two goals in a minute and a half to leave the Giant Center crowd breathless.
Bruins forward Carter Camper tallied the winning goal for Providence, scoring with 1:04 left in regulation time. It was Camper’s third goal on the night and fifth of the series. Providence went 2/4 on the power play compared to Hershey’s 1/6 with the man advantage as the Bears’ power play continues to struggle of late, combining for a 1/12 efficiency over the past two home games this postseason.
Nicolas Deschamps’ delay of game penalty with 3:53 remaining gave Providence life just 47 seconds after the Bears took the lead on Wilson’s third period tally.
“To let them come back again it’s frustrating,” Hershey forward Joey Crabb said after his two goal performance. “I got to have that clear on the penalty kill. Then to give up the game winner after that it’s frustrating.”
“The penalty hurt us,” Hershey coach Mark French said after the game. “I think that gave them some momentum.”
“Slow start, I thought we came on well in the second [period]. It still would have been nice to get the power play advantage, we scored once, it would have been nice to take a little bit more of an advantage than that. The third [period] I thought there were a few lulls, but then I thought we pushed well.”
Providence snagged an early 1-0 lead 8:01 into the first period, scoring twenty seconds after their first power play of the game expired. Bruins forward Carter Camper deflected Matt Bartkowksi’s shot for his third goal of the series, set up by former Hershey Bears forward Graham Mink.
The Bruins padded their lead just 4:09 later, converting on a too many men penalty. Mink converted his third goal of the season on a rebound. Mink’s tally was assisted by Bartkowski and forward Jordan Caron.
“To be that close to your season ending,” Mink said about the end of the game. “Four minutes from going home to tying it up and then scoring to win, hearts still pounding, it’s going to take a few minutes to digest.”
We put ourselves behind the eight ball losing two goals at home, now it’s tied up and we get a winner take all game Wednesday. We’re just happy to still be alive and fighting.”
Providence dominated the Chocolate and White in all phases of the game during the first frame, outshooting Hershey 13-4. They converted on one of their two power plays and killed off two penalties.
The Bears brought themselves within one goal on a power play just 1:58 into the second period to bring the home crowd back to life. Following a Bobby Robins’ elbowing penalty, forward Joey Crabb notched his third goal of the playoffs on a give and go set up by second year Bear Ryan Potulny.
After outshooting Providence 13-4 in the second period, the Bears continued their territorial dominance. Joey Crabb tallied his second goal of the game and fourth of the series 3:42 into the third stanza, assisted by defenseman Julien Brouillette and forward Ryan Potulny.
“I think that’s the thing we got to focus on,” said Crabb. “I know it sounds simple, but we’re a skilled enough team. If we’re winning battles and playing hard I think we’ll be alright.”
Hershey grabbed what appeared to be a 3-2 lead just minutes later, but the goal was waved off for contact with Bruins net minder Niklas Svedberg. The goal was assisted by Jordan Caron and Matt Bartkowksi, who both recorded their second assist of the contest.
Bears forward Casey Wellman later notched his second goal of the season with 9:15 remaining in the third period, firing a wrist shot past Svedberg off Peter LeBlanc’s faceoff win in the offensive zone.
“Just felt like it was going to be their night; we had a really good first and then penalty after penalty,” said Mink. “We managed to kill, but it really got Hershey back in the game. Offensively it gives their guys a lot of touches.”
The Bears travel to Providence for a deciding game five against the Bruins, with a chance to advance to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“Play our style for a longer period of time,” said French of what needs to be accomplished to advance. “I think it’s clearly apparent to the players and the coaching staff when we do certain things well we gain an advantage in the series five-on-five.”
“We’re going to get Hershey’s best game of the series I’ll promise you that,” added Mink. “Hopefully they get ours and we’ll see whose left standing.”
1. Attendance: 5,042
2. Bears Injuries: Jonathon Kalinski and Mike Carman
3. Hershey Healthy Scratches: Defensemen Patrick McNeill, Chay Genoway and forwards Joel Rechlicz, Mattias Sjogren, Matt Pope and Dane Byers (veteran scratch)
4. Providence Bruins Scratches: Defensemen Chris Casto, Ryan Button, Colby Cohen, Zach Trotman and forwards Alden Hirschfeld, Alexander Khokhlachev, Alexander Fallstrom, Matt Lindblad, Jared Knight, Rob Flick and Tyler Randell
1. Carter Camper (three goals, plus three and three shots on goal)
2. Joey Crabb (two goals, plus one and five shots on goal)
3. Tom Wilson (first pro goal, two shots on goal and two penalty minutes)