HERSHEY, Pa. – A sell-out Hershey crowd expected a party to follow Game 5 of the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup.
But Manitoba Moose goaltender Cory Schneider shut down the Bears’ offence, and Michael Grabner and Cody Hodgson scored two quick second-period goals to ruin Hershey’s celebration plans with a 3-2 win Tuesday.
Manitoba’s win sent the series back to Winnipeg for Friday’s Game 6 with the Bears up 3-2 in the best-of-seven final. The Moose will attempt to become the first AHL team since 1949 to erase a 3-1 series deficit to win a Calder Cup, and a Moose win would set up a Game 7 on Sunday evening.
Schneider stopped 31 shots while Grabner and Hodgson scored goals just 1:07 apart in the second to put the Moose up 2-0.
Moose head coach Scott Arniel praised his goaltender.
“We have a guy in the room, our goaltender, who was just absolutely outstanding,” Arniel said. “While we were standing around being a little bit of spectators for two periods, he was putting on a one-man show.”
Schneider said, “It took us a little while to get going and I think we had to get up to speed a little bit, but that’s my job – keep us in the game and give us a chance to win.”
Manitoba opened the scoring in the second period when winger Guillaume Desbiens won a loose-puck battle behind the Hershey net and flicked a shot that bounced back to Grabner, who slipped a shot between the pads of Bears’ goalie Michal Neuvirth at 17:00.
A healthy scratch in Game 4, Hodgson further quieted the crowd when he sped down the right side across the Hershey blue-line before snapping a top-circle shot that worked its way under the crossbar.
Hershey replied just four minutes into the third as Graham Mink grabbed a rebound and put the shot over Schneider.
Penalty trouble hampered the Moose in the previous two games, but they managed to keep Hershey off the power play through 56 minutes of play. Hershey had gone 3-for-8 on the power play over the previous two games.
“A lot of dirty stuff went on,” Arniel admitted. “There’s a lot of stuff that happened (to) both teams, both ways.”
Hershey head coach Bob Woods said, “I think the way (the referee) called it more plays into their hands. We’re a quicker team, more finesse, and they’re a bigger and stronger type team. Old-time playoff hockey was what (the fans) got to watch.”
Jason Krog’s first empty-netter of the season came with 1:21 to play and sealed the Moose victory. A late John Carlson goal made the final 30 seconds interesting, but Hershey could not tie the game.
“I can’t get one past the goalie, so it was nice to get one with him out of there,” joked Krog, who had been without a goal in the series.
Notes: Manitoba regained the services of defenceman Nathan McIver, back in the Moose lineup for the first time since Game 5 of the Western Conference final against Houston. Arniel swapped Matt Cullen, Greg Rallo and Zack FitzGerald for Cody Hodgson, Matt Pope and McIver. . . The Moose departed for Winnipeg immediately after the game. . . For the second time in three seasons, the Calder Cup will be awarded on Canadian ice. Led by goalie Carey Price, Hamilton defeated the Bears to take the 2007 Calder Cup championship.