Hershey starts fast in Game 6 but Providence’s strong second period carries Bruins to a 4-2 victory
Hershey followed its best period of the AHL postseason with a clunker, and the Bears’ rough stretch gave Providence the opening it desperately needed.
The Bruins overcame an early 2-0 deficit Tuesday night to beat Hershey 4-2 in Game 6 of the Atlantic Division Finals and tie the series 3-3.
The winner-take-all Game 7 is Wednesday night at Giant Center.
Hershey, so efficient on the road this season, is 1-4 at home in the playoffs. The Bears’ lone win at Giant Center came in overtime of Game 2 against Providence.
“The best part of our game is we play tomorrow (Wednesday),” said veteran Hershey forward Garrett Mitchell, obviously eager to put Game 6 behind him.
Strong play by Hershey at the start had Providence on the ropes. Bears forward Chandler Stephenson scored on a power-play tap-in at 5:02 of the first period and red-hot Chris Bourque made it 2-0 on a tally with 30 seconds left, beating Providence goalie Zane McIntyre for a short-side score just under the crossbar.
But the second period was dominated by Providence, which fired 14 shots on Bears rookie goal Vitek Vanecek, subbing for the injured Pheonix Copley.
Three of them found the net, including Danton Heinen’s score just 37 seconds into the second period.
The Bruins tied it less than six minutes later on Colton Hargrove’s goal and the crusher occurred in the final seconds, with Chris Porter converting a pass from Colby Cave past Vanecek with 23 seconds to go.
Cave did the heavy lifting on the play, skating the puck into the zone and carrying it behind the net. He flipped a pass in front that just eluded Hershey defenseman Aaron Ness.
“Puck management,” said Hershey coach Troy Mann, asked what was the difference for Hershey between the first and second periods. Too many turnovers for the Bears.
Mann added: “The second period was certainly the turning point of the hockey game.”
Hershey, outshot 34-28, generated nine third-period shots but the only goal of the third was scored by Providence’s Austin Czarnik with just under eight minutes to play.
Vanecek made 30 saves and McIntyre stopped 28 shots for the visitors.
So it’s onto Game 7, and both teams appear to be comfortable in the winner-take-all scenario.
The Bears ousted Lehigh Valley earlier with a Game 5 win on the road and Providence did the same thing to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Mann said his club will look to get back to what worked in the first 20 minutes Tuesday night.
“If you can put three periods together like that first period, you’re going to win hockey games,” Mann said.