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Bears double up Monarchs for Game 1 win

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HERSHEY 4, MANCHESTER 2
Hershey jumped to a 2-0 lead after the first period and doubled up Manchester by a 4-2 count on Wednesday before 7,718 fans at Giant Center in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Michal Neuvirth, the reigning Calder Cup Playoffs MVP, earned the victory with 24 saves on 26 shots, improving to a perfect 7-0 this postseason.

Coming off a 12-day layoff, the Bears wasted no time in regaining their scoring touch, but it came from an unlikely source.

Defenseman Sean Collins tallied his first goal of the playoffs just 16 seconds after the opening face-off, with assists going to Chris Bourque and Mathieu Perreault.

Andrew Gordon’s power play goal made it 2-0 at 10:02 of the opening period, and Steve Pinizzotto built a 3-0 lead for Hershey with an unassisted marker 7:256 into the middle stanza.

The Monarchs finally solved Neuvirth in the third period, as rookie Andrei Loktionov scored his first of the postseason midway through. But defenseman Karl Alzner regained the Bears’ three-goal edge less than two minutes later.

Manchester forward Gabe Gauthier closed out the game’s scoring with 3:50 to go in regulation.

Monarchs goaltender Jonathan Bernier also made 24 saves in net, but he suffered just his third loss of the playoffs (8-3).

After two days off, the teams will collide for Game 2 in Hershey on Saturday night.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. A3-Manchester Monarchs

Game 1 – Wed., May 12 – HERSHEY 4, Manchester 2
Game 2 – Sat., May 15 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Mon., May 17 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
Game 4 – Tue., May 18 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 5 – Thu., May 20 – Hershey at Manchester, 7:00
*Game 6 – Sat., May 22 – Manchester at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Sun., May 23 – Manchester at Hershey, 5:00