Rookie Eric Fehr unloaded a blast 9:07 into overtime to give the Hershey Bears a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Portland Pirates in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night at the Giant Center.
The Bears have captured the Richard F. Canning Trophy and are going to the Calder Cup Finals for the AHL-record 19th time in franchise history, where they will take on the Milwaukee Admirals. Game 1 is Friday night at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee.
Fehr’s second goal of the night was a drive from above the right-wing circle and gave the Bears their first and only lead of the night.
The contest marked the third time in the last seven years that the Eastern Conference Finals were extended to overtime of a Game 7, and was the 14th Game 7 in Calder Cup Playoff history to go into OT overall.
Most of the talk leading up to Tuesday’s game surrounded Portland’s addition of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dustin Penner, who were assigned to the Pirates by Anaheim after the Mighty Ducks were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Saturday night.
But it was Fehr — who was drafted before both Getzlaf and Perry in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and who like Penner hails from Winkler, Man. — who played the role of hero.
Perry did pick up a goal and Portland and Penner did score twice, but Graham Mink shoveled home a loose puck with 2:09 left in regulation to tie the score once more, and Hershey prevailed for the first Game 7 overtime win in the franchise’s storied 68-year history.
The teams hit the first intermission of Games 3 through 6 scoreless, but erupted for six goals in the opening 20 minutes of Game 7, with Hershey tallying three power-play goals to erase 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.
With the Bears down a goal, Colin Forbes was awarded a penalty shot 1:12 into the third period, but he hit the post on his attempt.
Attendance was 8,261 at the Giant Center.
NOTES: Tim Brent scored for the fourth time in the last three games for Portland… Zenon Konopka was held scoreless in Game 7, but finished as the Pirates’ leading playoff scorer with 29 points in 19 games… Portland wound up 3-5 in eight overtime playoff games… Home teams are 5-0 in Game 7’s this postseason… Hershey’s most recent OT Game 7 came in 1989, when Adam Graves scored the winner to cap Adirondack’s comeback from an 0-3 series deficit… Fehr joins Len Barrie (1991), Cleland Mortson (1962) and Murray Costello (1954) as the only Bears ever to score a series-clinching overtime goal in a winner-take-all game… Mark Wotton, out since Game 3 of Hershey’s second-round series vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and J.F. Fortin, out since Mar. 11, returned to the Bears lineup in Game 7… Hershey’s Tomas Fleischmann (6g, 8a) and Kris Beech (4g, 5a) had points in all seven games of the series.
2006 Calder Cup Finals (best-of-seven)
Game 1 – Fri., June 2 – at Milwaukee, 8:00 ET
Game 2 – Sat., June 3 – at Milwaukee, 8:00 ET
Game 3 – Sat., June 10 – at Hershey, 7:00 ET
Game 4 – Sun., June 11 – at Hershey, 6:00 ET
*Game 5 – Tue., June 13 – at Hershey, 7:00 ET
*Game 6 – Thu., June 15 – at Milwaukee, 8:00 ET
*Game 7 – Sat., June 17 – at Milwaukee, 8:00 ET
*if necessary… All times Eastern