Giroux pots hat trick as Bears take Game 1 in OT


Alexandre Giroux poked home a loose puck in the crease on the power play at 13:33 of overtime, completing a hat trick and giving Hershey a 5-4 win over Manitoba on Saturday in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals at a sold-out MTS Centre. Giroux now has a team-leading 12 postseason goals for Bears, who erased a 3-1 deficit in the third period en route to the win.

Game 2 is set for Tuesday in Winnipeg.

The AHL’s most valuable player, Giroux led all AHL scorers with 60 goals during the regular season and has now combined to notch 72 on the campaign, an AHL record for a single year.

Rookie Oskar Osala scored twice for the Bears on Saturday, and first-year goaltender Michal Neuvirth earned the victory with 26 saves in net.

The Moose grabbed a 1-0 lead when Mark Cullen converted a 5-on-3 power play by burying a cross-crease pass from Jason Krog at the bottom of the right face-off circle, lifting the puck over Neuvirth.

But the Bears rebounded just 56 seconds later as Giroux capitalized on a Manitoba turnover and potted a shorthanded goal from the slot.

Michael Grabner put the Moose back on top at 13:18 of the second frame, as he collected a cross-ice pass at the red line and burst down the left wing before cutting to the slot and flipping a backhand past Neuvirth. The 21-year-old Grabner then extended Manitoba’s advantage to 3-1 at 6:12 of the middle frame when he converted a partial breakaway chance for his second tally of the night, again on the backhand.

Grabner, drafted 14th overall by Vancouver in 2006, added an assist and has racked up eight goals (8-2-10) in his last six games and shows a team-high nine goals on the playoffs (9-5-14).

However, the resilient Bears rallied for a trio of goals in the third period. Osala brought Hershey within 3-2 just 2:34 into the third period, and Giroux tallied the equalizer at 11:01. A little more than four minutes later, Osala took a wrap-around shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle that hit the skate of Manitoba netminder Cory Schneider and just trickled over the goal line, giving Hershey a 4-3 advantage.

Buoyed by a lengthy 5-on-3 power play, the Moose knotted the score once more when Maxime Fortunus’s shot from the point found its way through a screen and past Neuvirth with 1:16 to play.

But the Moose could not score in the extra session, and Schneider fell to 0-7 in his AHL career in playoff overtime contests, including an 0-3 mark this postseason.

2009 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (HER leads series, 1-0)
N1-Manitoba Moose vs. E1-Hershey Bears
Game 1 – Sat., May 30 – Hershey 5, MANITOBA 4 (OT)
Game 2 – Tue., June 2 – Hershey at Manitoba, 8:30 ET
Game 3 – Sat., June 6 – Manitoba at Hershey, 7:00 ET
Game 4 – Sun., June 7 – Manitoba at Hershey, 5:00 ET
*Game 5 – Tue., June 9 – Manitoba at Hershey, 7:00 ET
*Game 6 – Fri., June 12 – Hershey at Manitoba, 8:30 ET
*Game 7 – Sun., June 14 – Hershey at Manitoba, 8:30 ET