Bears take Game 3, look to even Calder Cup Finals tonight

Riley Sutter, Hershey Bears
Riley Sutter, Hershey Bears /

Back in 2016 was the last time the Hershey Bears were in the Calder Cup Finals. They got swept by the Lake Erie Monsters. This time around the Bears dropped the first two games to the Coachella Valley Firebirds on the road. But unlike last time the Bears would prevail in Game 3 at Giant Center.

The Bears lost Game 1 by a final of 5-0 and Game 2 by a final of 4-0. In Game 3 the Bears won in overtime 5-4 with Riley Sutter being the hero at 13:34 of the extra session in front of a sell out crowd of 10,580.

The Bears first goal of the Calder Cup Finals came at 13:24 of the opening period with Ethen Frank scoring his first goal of the playoffs on the power play with a wrist from the left circle. The goal was assisted by Sam Anas and Logan Day.

The Firebirds would tie the game late in the first period. The Bears responded with a pair of goals in the second period. First it was Joe Snively finishing off a give and go with Garrett Pilon at 1:05 for his second goal of the playoffs and first since April 29 which was Game 2 of the Atlantic Division Semifinals against the Charlotte Checkers.

Sam Anas made it 3-1 Bears on the power play at 17:18. It was initially washed out but the ref’s mind was changed after video review. It was assisted by Frank and Snively.

The Firebirds mounted a comeback in the third period. They outshot the Bears 16-9. Carsen Twarnski scored at 6:33 to make it a one goal game but the Bears answered less than a minute later thanks to Garett Pilon to make it 4-2. Logan Day had the apple.

That 4-2 lead was not safe. There’s no such thing as a safe two goal lead in hockey. Cameron Hughes scored twice for the Firebirds in the closing minutes to tie the score at four. His first goal came not he power play and then again with an extra attacker. It forced overtime.

The Firebirds had a good look in overtime but Ryker Evans’ shot hit the goal post. Minutes later Sutter scored to give the series new life for the Bears and a clawing chance at tying things up tonight.

Coachella Valley outshot Hershey 37-30 overall. Hunter Shepard made 33 saves to earn the win. The Bears power play went two for four while the penalty kill went one for three. This was the Bears first win in the Calder Cup Finals since June 14, 2010 which was the last time they hosted the trophy. That came in Game 6 over the Texas Stars.

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Game 4 is tonight at 7 p.m. If you can’t make the drive up to Giant Center you can catch the game on NBC Sports Washington at home or at the Caps watch party over at the Caesar’s Sportsbook.