Worcester MA — The Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series seemed to be slowly slipping from the paws of Hartford’s beloved Wolf Pack after Hershey Bears were took the lead with their Game Three victory last night here at the DCU Center in Worcester. However, tonight the Wolf Pack took the ice by storm, perhaps due to the faithfulness of Wolf Pack fans who came out to support their team? “There are some real faithful fans,” Coach Ken Gernander said. “It’s nice to see that there are people that support us that strongly that they’ll come on a Monday night to an off-site location.”
Although it was just a small crowd at the DCU Center, 658, it was all the Wolf Pack needed to give them the extra boost in their play “We want to thank the people who came down to support us,” said Chris Bourque. “That’s huge and really helped. They were loud. People that were here, it was really nice of them to come and we appreciate it.”
With the help of their loyal fan base cheering them on, the team demonstrated the utmost of determination and intelligence in their play; making it clear throughout the game that the Wolf Pack are not ready to give up. “We did a pretty good job managing,” Coach Ken Gernander said. “We really didn’t allow that many times for them to get in behind us. We intercepted a couple of plays and were able to transition. So we did a lot of good things.”
Oscar Lindberg came in extra hot with a goal and two assists for Hartford, ultimately leading to tonight’s 3-1 victory. Joey Crabb and Ryan Haggerty were the other two scorers contributing to the Pack’s win.
The Wolf Pack had a dominating first period, outshooting the Bears 14-7 and putting the first notch on the board with 3:49 left on the board. The goal came just after a power play expired; Chris Bourque (HFD) was able to snatch the puck down in the Bear’s zone and feed it to Lindberg, who sent a shot to Crabb from the point. Crabb was able to grab the puck and deflect it past Bear’s goalie Philipp Grubauer.
Lindberg was able to give his team a 2-0 lead just six seconds into a Wolf Pack power play, which was gained from Bear’s Steve Oleksy’s elbow call. C. Bourque who’d picked up a pass from teammate Chris Mueller and sent it over to Lindberg who one-timed a shot high into the net past Grubauer.
Widening the gap, Lindberg then sent a long pass to Haggerty at 13:09. Haggerty was able to beat Grubauer on a breakaway and slip the puck between the goaltender’s pads, bringing the score up to 3-0. Both Lindberg and Haggerty’s goals were the boys’ first pro playoff scores.
The Bear’s were ready to come back in the third though. Outshooting the Wolf Pack 11-6, the Bear’s managed to sneak onto the scoreboard off a cross-slot pass from Chandler Stephenson to Jon Landry. At 12:02 Landry narrowed the score gap and ultimately put an end to what could have been a shutout for Hartford’s Yann Danis.
The Wolf Pack pulled it together for the remainder of the game, shutting the door for any other possible goals. “It was a really solid game all-around, offensively, defensively,” C. Bourque commented. “Everyone was making good passes. Really, back to basics because we kind of got away from that Sunday.”
Although the teams are headed to Hershey for Game Five, they will be returning to the XL Center Friday night for Game Six. “It’s gonna be great!” exclaimed C. Bourque “We feel really comfortable there. Obviously, it’s our home arena. Coming to a neutral site wasn’t really that exciting for us. It’s something that we had to do, but I think we’re all really happy that this part of the series is over.”
Shots: 32-21 HFD
1. O. Lindberg
2. C. Bourque
3. J. Crabb