Giroux the OT hero as Bears take Game 5


CEDAR PARK, Tex … Alexandre Giroux extended an AHL record with his fifth career playoff overtime goal, scoring at 13:28 of the first extra session to give Hershey a 2-1 road win over Texas on Friday and a 3-2 series lead in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals.

Giroux collected a bouncing puck in the right slot and sent a wrist shot through the five hole of Stars netminder Matt Climie for his 14th goal of the postseason (14-11-25), tied with Texas’ Jamie Benn (14-12-26) for the AHL lead.

With the victory, Hershey improved to 8-1 in overtime during these playoffs and will now have two chances on home ice to clinch its 11th Calder Cup title and second in as many years. Game 6 is on Monday at the Giant Center, while a potential Game 7 would be on Wednesday.

The road team has won each of the first five games in this series.

Giroux, who followed up a 60-goal regular-season in 2008-09 with 50 more goals for Hershey during the 2009-10 campaign, became the eighth different Bears skater to nab an overtime goal this postseason, joining Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perreault, Kyle Wilson, Francois Bouchard, Jay Beagle, Boyd Kane, and Andrew Joudrey.

Defenseman Karl Alzner and John Carlson – both highly-touted first-round draft picks by the parent Washington Capitals – earned assists on Giroux’s game-winning tally.

Texas grabbed a 1-0 lead for the third time in as many home games this round when Aaron Gagnon potted a power play goal at 8:03 of the opening period.

Defenseman Dan Jancevski took a wrist shot from the point which was redirected in front by Gagnon and past Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth for his eighth goal of the postseason. The Stars had surrendered the game’s first goal in 11 straight outings before scoring first in each of the last three.

The Bears’ tying goal at 11:12 of the second period will not go down in the books as a power play strike, but it resulted from transition at the tail end of a man advantage.

After taking a feed from Keith Aucoin out of the defensive zone, Chris Bourque rushed up the ice and sent a pass in the slot to Francois Bouchard, who was trailing the play and quickly one-timed it home before Stars goaltender Matt Climie could recover.

The goal came just three seconds after Texas’ Francis Wathier emerged from the penalty box following an interference minor.

With the assist, Aucoin extended his scoring streak to four games (1-5-6) and continues to lead the AHL with 23 helpers (2-23-25) in 20 games this postseason.

A tight, defensive third period produced no scoring, and the teams traded prime chances early in overtime before Giroux ended it with his first non-empty-net goal of the 2010 Finals.

Bears goaltender Michal Neuvirth (13-4, 2.18, .916) earned the win with 35 saves on 36 shots, while Texas’ Matt Climie (7-6, 2.71, .916) took the tough-luck loss after stopping 41 of 43 attempts.

2010 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Thu., June 3 – Texas 2, HERSHEY 1
Game 2 – Sat., June 5 – Texas 4, HERSHEY 3
Game 3 – Mon., June 7 – Hershey 6, TEXAS 3
Game 4 – Wed., June 9 – Hershey 4, TEXAS 2
Game 5 – Fri., June 11 – Hershey 2, TEXAS 1 (OT)
Game 6 – Mon., June 14 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 16 – Texas at Hershey, 7:00