The Bulldogs, who finished third in the AHL's North Division with a
43-28-3-6 record, have yet to trail in any of their four series and can
secure the franchise's first AHL title with another victory Thursday at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton (7:30 p.m. ET).
Michael Lambert also scored for Hamilton (15-6), while Ajay Baines added a
short-handed empty-netter in the final minute. Veteran Duncan Milroy scored another short-handed marker with 34 seconds remaining and also chipped in two assists.
Rookie sensation Carey Price stopped 33 of 35 shots for his team record 14th win in a single post-season.
The 19-year-old Price, who played the majority of the season in junior with
the Tri-City Americans, wasn't as busy as the first three games when he
faced a total of 126 shots. Despite allowing a few uncharacteristic rebounds
early against the Bears, Price was assertive in his crease, aided by a rugged Hamilton defence that minimized any activity in front of the six-foot-three,
212-pounder from Williams Lake, B.C.
At various points in the game, the Hamilton crowd showed their support,
chanting "Car-ey, Car-ey."
His counterpart Frederic Cassivi struggled for Hershey (13-5), making 20
saves on 25 shots faced.
Wingers Jakub Klepis and Tomas Fleischmann scored third-period goals for the Bears, who need to win three consecutive games to repeat as Calder Cup
champions. Klepis has three of Hershey's four goals in the two games at
With Hershey trailing 4-0 early in the third period, Fleischmann brought the
Bears to within two goals on a great individual effort, backhanding a shot
over Price as he was being wrestled to the ice by Bulldogs' defender
Jean-Philippe Cote at 14:03.
For the second game in a row on home ice, Hamilton jumped out to an early
1-0 lead on Grabovski's fifth goal of the playoffs. Grabovski, a 23-year-old
centre from Potsdam, Germany, initially rang a shot off the post on a
wide-open attempt, but seconds later found the puck and flipped a backhand over the prone Bears' goaltender.
The Bulldogs have an 11-4 record in the 2007 playoffs when scoring first.
Hamilton extended the margin at 10:19 of the first period on the power
play. Defenceman Andre Benoit carried the puck to the bottom of the circle to Cassivi's right and slid a pass to the front of the net that D'Agostini tipped in for an early 2-0 Bulldogs lead.
Hamilton's power play has clicked when most needed, accounting for seven
goals in 26 chances with the man advantage through the first four games of
Manlow made it 3-0 Hamilton at 4:51 of the second period, a goal that
proved to be the winner. The Bulldogs' winger, with his back to the net,
kept his stick on the ice and tipped in an Benoit point shot, which
Cassivi wasn't able to pick up through traffic.
Lambert held off a defender and scored high on Cassivi's blocker side at
3:29 of the third, before Klepis got one back just under two minutes later
on a quick shot from in close that beat Price on the short side.
Notes: - Despite their 3-1 series lead, the Bulldogs have lacked some
discipline in recent outings, giving the defending Calder Cup champions 29
power play opportunities in the first three games of the Calder Cup final.
Hershey converted only one of 11 chances in the 5-2 Game 3 loss at Copps
Coliseum and just three overall, before coming up empty on its six chances
Wednesdaya Price has the chance to become the first goalie since former Hab
Patrick Roy to jump right from junior and lead a team to the AHL title. Roy,
the all-time wins leader in the National Hockey League, accomplished the
feat back in 1985 with the Sherbrooke Canadiensa Hamilton defenceman Dan
Jancevski extended his point streak to four games with an assist on
Lambert's goal, before adding another helper on Hamilton's sixth goal. The
big blue-liner had a goal and five assists in the previous three Calder Cup
games, the lone marker and an assist coming in Monday's blowout wina
Hamilton native Joey Tenute was scratched from the Hershey lineup for Game
4a The Bulldogs lost to Hershey in the 1997 final and then also came up
short in seven games in 2003, when the Houston Aeros took the Calder Cupa.