(hersheybears.com) — Casey Wellman tallied a hat trick and added an assist, Chris Brown scored twice and the Hershey Bears went on to a 10-4 rout of the Worcester Sharks on Friday night at Giant Center to win their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, three games to one.
The Bears, seeded second in the Eastern Conference, will meet either Hartford or Portland in the next round.
Coached to come out with a strong start, the Bears jumped all over the Sharks in the opening period, striking for three goals on the game’s first four shots. On the very first shift, Kris Newbury knocked down a Sharks defenseman and was later himself taken out of the play, which left Dustin Gazley and Brown alone to come in on goaltender Troy Grosenick. Gazley made a short pass across the top of the crease and Brown tapped it in just 24 seconds from the opening face-off.
Gazley then intercepted a Chris Tierney pass, broke in alone from the blue line and beat Grosenick with a snap shot for a shorthanded goal at 3:44.
Jakub Vrana would end Grosenick’s night at 10:40 on a highlight-reel goal that marked his first in the AHL. Skating down the right wing, the left-handed shot fired through a screen and across his body, and the puck caromed in off of the left post for a 3-0 Bears advantage.
Aaron Dell came on in relief of Grosenick, and just over two minutes later, Worcester would get on the board. With a crowd of players in and around Philipp Grubauer’s crease, the netminder could not cover a shot from in close. Ryan Carpenter dug it loose, skated behind the net and fed a pass in front for Dylan DeMelo, who chipped it home at 12:17.
Nate Schmidt aimed a pass toward Wellman on a two-man advantage, and Wellman redirected it home at 16:10 for his first of the night and a 4-1 Hershey lead.
The Sharks earned their second power play of the night early in the middle frame, and made it count when Karl Stollery’s shot from the left point sailed through traffic and beat Grubauer at 4:07.
Late in the period, the Sharks were flagged for their second major penalty of the series when Evan Trupp caught Stanislav Galiev with a slash up high. On a four-on-one rush, Connor Carrick fed Tim Kennedy for a shot that beat Dell from the right circle and gave Hershey a 6-2 advantage.
Hershey added two more goals on the major penalty early in the third to put the game far out of reach. With Grosenick back in goal, Wellman’s second of the night was a deflection past him off of a Vrana feed just 19 seconds into the frame. Liam O’Brien then fired a shot from the slot past Grosenick at 1:28, and Wellman completed the hat trick after chipping a shot short-side at 2:09.
Brown scored his second of the game for the Bears’ 10th goal of the night, deflecting a Carrick shot home at 8:06. Hershey became the first AHL team in more than 17 years to hit double digits in a Calder Cup Playoff game, since the Bears’ own 10-3 win over the Kentucky Thoroughblades on Apr. 22, 1998.
Grubauer (1-0) made 19 saves on 21 shots over two periods to become just the fifth goaltender ever to win playoff games in the AHL and the NHL in the same postseason. Copley stopped 11 of 13 shots in the third.
Dell (0-3) took the loss, allowing six goals on 32 shots in 31:29 of work. Grosenick finished with 12 saves on 16 shots.
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Series “B” (best-of-5)
2-Hershey Bears vs. 7-Worcester Sharks
Game 1 – Fri., Apr. 24 – Hershey 4, WORCESTER 1
Game 2 – Sat., Apr. 25 – Hershey 3, WORCESTER 1
Game 3 – Wed., Apr. 29 – Worcester 4, HERSHEY 1
Game 4 – Fri., May 1 – HERSHEY 10, Worcester 4