Carter Camper buried his sixth goal of the playoffs at 9:09 of overtime, sending the Hershey Bears to a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Marlies in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night at GIANT Center.
For the second consecutive game, the visitors drew first blood. Connor Brown set himself up in the mid-slot to one-time a pass from the trapezoid by Josh Leivo, and the shot beat Justin Peters at 6:33.
Hershey would record just their second shot on goal of the period at the 14:06 mark, but it hit pay dirt when Chandler Stephenson flew down the left wing and found a short-side opening on Garret Sparks for his first goal of the playoffs and a 1-1 tie.
The Bears then grabbed the lead in the middle frame, working their second power play of the night. Jakub Vrana attempted a pass across the low slot, but the puck caromed off of a few skates and in behind Sparks at 7:55.
Shortly after Hershey’s glorious chance to take a bigger lead on a short five-on-three power play, the Marlies came back and evened the score. Mark Arcobello flew past the Hershey defense and redirected a long pass from Leivo off of Peters’ arm. The puck bounced over the goal line before Christian Djoos could slap it away at 17:42.
The Bears turned up the pressure by outshooting Toronto in the period, but neither goaltender budged, setting the stage for an exciting overtime. Nathan Walker would create an extensive in-zone shift, stripping the puck away and giving Dustin Gazley a chance to skate around the net. Gazley slipped a backhand pass to a sneaking Camper, who ripped a one-timer into the upper corner for the winner.
Peters made 38 saves on 40 shots to improve to 9-4 in the postseason. Sparks, making his first start since May 4, stopped 20 of 23 and fell to 2-2. The Bears finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
The series now shifts to Canada, and game three will be played on Wednesday, May 25. The puck drops at Ricoh Coliseum at 7:30 PM. Fans may catch the broadcast beginning at 6:50 PM on the Bears Radio Network of affiliates WQIC-FM 100.1, WKBO-AM 1230, WOYK-AM 1350, online at CapsRadio247.com or WHP580.com, via the Capitals Mobile App (Caps Radio 24/7) or via the iHeartRadio App (WHP 580 Harrisburg).
NOTES: Hershey improved to 2-2 in overtime in the postseason…Hershey ran its franchise overtime record to 62-53 in 115 games…Chris Bourque recorded his 75th career AHL postseason assist, moving one away from a tie for second all-time…Carter Camper added an assist to his game-winning goal, extending his point streak to a playoff-best eight games (6-5-11)...The Bears scratched RW Riley Barber, LW Paul Carey, D Connor Hobbs, LW Domenic Monardo, D Mike Moore and D Colby Williams… The Marlies scratched D Travis Dermott, RW Matt Frattin, C Fredrik Gauthier, RW Andreas Johnson, D David Kolomatis, LW Tobias Lindberg and D Viktor Loov.