Bears Win and They Will Be In Playoffs

It all comes down to the Hershey Bears final regular season game on Sunday at Giant Center.   Beat Manchester on home ice and they make the playoffs.   They could have made life a lot easier for themselves with a victory in Binghamton on Saturday Night.  Instead, they come home to Chocolatetown after a 4-2 loss to the Senators.    The following is the official game capsule from the Hershey Bears:

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Shane Prince and Stephane Da Costa scored power-play goals and Marc Cheverie made 24 saves to help the Binghamton Senators win their home finale of the regular season, a 4-2 decision over the HERSHEY BEARS on Saturday night at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

Two would-be goals for the Bears were wiped out in the first period.  The first of the two was negated when Michael Latta directed a rebound into the net with his skate.  From there, the Sens were able to strike first, working their first power play of the night.  Shane Prince backhanded the rebound of a shot from Da Costa behind Bears netminder Philipp Grubauer at 9:11, giving Binghamton a 1-0 lead.

Casey Wellman later deposited the rebound of a shot from Nicolas Deschamps, but the referee blew the whistle upon losing sight of the puck as it sat at Cheverie’s side.

Ironically Wellman would be the one to draw the Bears even.  On Hershey’s first power play of the game, Peter LeBlanc set up a scoring chance by firing a hard pass from the right boards into the slot.  Jon DiSalvatore got a stick on the pass and deflected it past Cheverie, but the puck hit the goal post.  Wellman pounced on the rebound and fired it home at 16:40.

The Senators took a 2-1 lead late in the first, when Brett Lebda took a pass from Pat Cannone and beat Grubauer with a screen shot from the right circle.

More penalty trouble haunted the Bears in the middle frame.  Binghamton was handed 1:58 of two-man advantage time, and struck when Da Costa’s one-timer off of a Cody Ceci feed slid past Grubauer at 6:40.

The Bears played in a two-goal deficit until the final two minutes of regulation.  With Grubauer off in favor of a sixth attacker, Jeff Taffe led a charge through neutral ice.  His pass found Garrett Mitchell in the slot, who then snapped a shot past the blocker of Cheverie and brought the Bears to within 3-2 with 1:26 left to play.  The assist was Taffe’s 53rd of the season, and enabled him to become the third Bears player this season to reach 500 points in his AHL career, joining Jon DiSalvatore and Boyd Kane.

Grubauer would get to the bench again, but just inside the final minute, Mark Stone picked off a pass in the neutral zone and hit the empty net to round out the scoring.

Grubauer made 20 saves on 23 shots but fell to 14-9-2 on the season.  Cheverie improved to 5-6-1 with the win.  The Bears finished 1-for-3 on the power play and 1-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Coupled with regulation losses by the Connecticut Whale and Norfolk Admirals, the three teams are now tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.  Connecticut wrapped up the regular season tonight, and Norfolk visits the Providence Bruins at 3:00 PM tomorrow.

The Bears wrap up the 2012-2013 regular season tomorrow, April 21 with a 5:00 PM faceoff against the Manchester Monarchs.  The Bears will qualify for the postseason with a win of any kind, or by finishing with one more point than Norfolk.

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