Bears, Penguins advance to East Division Finals

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton held off visiting Bridgeport by a 4-2 count at the Wachovia Arena on Friday in Game 5 of their East Division semifinal, becoming the first home team in the opening-round match-up to win a contest.

The Penguins captured the series, 4-1, and advance to a meeting with Hershey in the division finals.

Chris Minard registered a game-high three points (1-2-3) for the Penguins and assisted on Jean-Michel Daoust’s game-winning goal at 13:13 of the second period.

Minard and Dustin Jeffrey each scored on the power play, and Jeff Taffe added a goal with 54.1 seconds remaining in the third period to provide insurance for what was a slim 3-2 Penguins advantage at the time.

Pens goaltender John Curry earned the victory with 20 save on 22 shots, helping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton move on to the division finals for the sixth consecutive spring.

Justin DiBenedetto registered his first professional goal for the Sound Tigers, and Jesse Joensuu also scored in the losing effort.

Graham Mink’s power play tally 1:30 into the second period stood up as the only goal of the night as the Bears claimed a 1-0 win over Philadelphia on Friday night before 7,409 fans at Giant Center.

Hershey completed a four-game opening-round sweep of the Phantoms and are back in the East Division Finals after a one-year absence. The Bears’ upcoming opponent, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, eliminated them in the first round last year en route to a spot in the Calder Cup Finals.

Alexandre Giroux and Chris Bourque picked up assists on the goal by Mink, which was his first of the postseason.

Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth posted a 23-save shutout on Friday to complete a series in which he stopped 103 of 109 shots (.945) over the four contests. Hershey’s penalty kill was successful on all five opportunities in Game 4 and finished with a perfect 22-for-22 showing in the series.

Philadelphia held a 10-5 advantage in shots during the third period but could not solve Neuvirth and suffered its first-ever sweep in a best-of-7 series.

East Division Finals – Series “J” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. E3-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
Game 1 – Sat., May 2 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00
Game 2 – Sun., May 3 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
Game 3 – Wed., May 6 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
Game 4 – Fri., May 8 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 5 – Sat., May 9 – Hershey at W-B/Scranton, 7:05
*Game 6 – Sun., May 10 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 5:00
*Game 7 – Tue., May 12 – W-B/Scranton at Hershey, 7:00