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Hershey Bears Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 preview

CLEVELAND, Oh. (WHTM) – The Hershey Bears were unable to close out the series against the Cleveland Monsters to advance to the Calder Cup Finals on Thursday and will now play Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday.

Series so far recap

The first two games of the series required overtime to get the job done. The Bears took the first three games of the series, but couldn’t complete the sweep with Cleveland holding off elimination with a 3-2 victory on Thursday.

  • Game 1: 5-4 Hershey, OT

  • Game 2: 3-2 Hershey, OT

  • Game 3: 6-2 Hershey

  • Game 4: 3-2 Cleveland

On Thursday, Cleveland scored first for the first time in the series. The Bears were able to tie the game by the end of the first period, but Cleveland took back the lead 2-1 early in the second period. The Monsters went up two goals, 3-1, about five minutes into the third period, but the Bears answered almost immediately to cut their lead to one goal, 3-2. The Bears were unable to force overtime.

Hershey Bears headed to Game 5 of Eastern Conference Finals, unable to clinch Finals berth

The Bears were missing five players for Game 4 due to injury: Lucas Johansen, Pierrick Dubé, Aaron Nexx, Henrik Rybinski, and Jon McDonald.

Top performers

Hendrix Lapierre has led the Bears postseason run in points with 13 followed by Ethen Frank with 12 points. Ivan Miroshnichenko and Chase Priskie are tied with 11 points each.

Frank is on a hot streak, having scored a goal in seven straight games (7 goals), totaling a team-leading nine playoff goals. Miroshnichenko has the second most goals for Hershey in the playoffs with six.

Cleveland has three players, Josh Dunne, David Jiricek, and Justin Pearson, who are tied for the most points for the Monsters in their playoff run with nine. Dunne is leading in goals with five followed by Aled Whelan with four and Jiricek and Jake Gaudet with three.

In net, Bears’ Hunter Shepard has started in all 11 games of the postseason. The reigning AHL Goaltender of The Year is boasting a 1.96 goals against average with a 0.925 save percentage. Shepard has a 9-2 record.

The Monsters have mainly relied on Jet Greaves in goal who has a 2.30 GAA and a 0.923 save percentage with a 6-4 record. Malcolm Subban has appeared in the net twice with a 3.04 GAA and a 0.879 save percentage.

What are the stakes?

If the Bears win Game 5 of the best-of-7 series they will advance to the Calder Cup Finals for a league-leading 25th appearance. If the Monsters win again, the series will shift to the GIANT Center for Game 6 on Monday at 7 p.m.

The winner of the Eastern Conference Finals will face the winner of the Western Conference Finals to battle for the Calder Cup. The Coachella Valley Firebirds are currently up 3-1 over the Milwaukee Admirals in their series. The Bears defeated the Firebirds to clinch the cup last season and end a 13-year Cup drought.

How to watch

Action for Game 5 will get underway at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 8. Bears fans can watch the action on Monumental Sports Network or online with AHLTV.

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