Vanecek Shuts out Bridgeport, Series Tied 1-1
(Bridgeport, CT) - Vitek Vanecek stopped 39 shots to help the Hershey Bears blank the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 2-0 on Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena. The victory evened the best-of-five first round series at 1-1 heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Giant Center.
The Bears established a strong offensive zone presence in the first period, and Mike Sgarbossa capitalized for the Chocolate and White only 11:15 in. Riley Barber won a puck battle along the half boards behind the Bridgeport net and moved the biscuit for Lucas Johansen at the left point. Johansen sent a shot towards the net deflected perfectly by Sgarbossa in the low-slot, and past Sound Tigers goaltender Jeremy Smith. Sgarbossa's first of the postseason stood as the only tally for either side in the first stanza. Shots after 20 minutes were 13-12 Bears.
Next period, Hershey's top line continued to earn opportunities, and Barber doubled his team's lead to 2-0 at 4:07. Courtesy of a neutral zone turnover by the Sound Tigers, the Bears were granted an odd-man rush into the offensive end. Sgarbossa feathered a headman pass to Barber, and he danced around Smith to bury the scoring chance. Shots after 40 minutes were 26-21 Hershey. Vanecek continued to be sensational down the stretch in goal, and the penalty kill shined with a 3-for-3 performance to help the Bears to a 2-0 win.
Vanecek's shutout is the first by a Bears goaltender in the Calder Cup Playoffs since Pheonix Copley blanked the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in Game 1 of the 2017 Atlantic Division Semifinals. Nathan Walker scored for the Bears at 7:38 of overtime to complete the 1-0 win at PPL Center. Copley made 32 saves after playing 67:38 in net.
The Hershey Bears return home on Tuesday, Apr. 23 for Game 3 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals against Bridgeport. Game 4 on Thursday, Apr. 25 is now necessary with Hershey's victory. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. start time at Giant Center. Ticket information is available online at HersheyBears.com.
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