Happy Camper: Bears prevail in OT

Carter Camper scored 9:09 into overtime and the Hershey Bears took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Marlies on Saturday night at Giant Center.

The series moves to Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto for the next three games, beginning with Game 3 on Wednesday night.

Camper and linemates Dustin Gazley and Nathan Walker did a tremendous job keeping the puck in the offensive zone before Gazley stepped out from behind the net and fed Camper, who one-timed a shot past the glove of Garret Sparks for his second goal of the series and sixth goal of the playoffs.

Camper, who also had an assist on the night, now has points in eight consecutive games for the Bears, who are two wins away from their 23rd trip to the Calder Cup Finals.

Just as they did in Game 1, the Marlies scored first in Game 2. Josh Leivo’s pass from behind the net found Connor Brown in front, and Brown one-timed his seventh goal of the postseason past Justin Peters to make it 1-0 at 6:33 of the first period.

Chandler Stephenson tied things up for the Bears at 14:06 when he sped down the left wing side, pulled Garret Sparks out of position and popped in his first goal of the playoffs.

Hershey took the lead at 7:55 of the second period as Jakub Vrana capitalized on a power play for his fifth goal of the postseason, but the Marlies responded with 2:18 left in the middle frame as Mark Arcobello’s redirection of a centering pass from Leivo handcuffed Peters and trickled in for his second goal of the playoffs.

Peters (9-4) finished with 38 saves on the night as Toronto owned a 40-23 advantage in shots on goal. Sparks (2-2), making his first start since Game 1 of the Marlies’ second-round series vs. Albany, turned aside 20 shots.

NOTES: The game-winning goal by Camper was the second playoff overtime goal of his AHL career; he scored for Providence on May 15, 2013, at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Connor Carrick had an assist for the Marlies, his league-leading 15th point of the playoffs… Hershey is now 2-2 in overtime this postseason; Toronto is 0-2… The Marlies have lost back-to-back games for the first time since Mar. 12-13… Hershey is 10-2 all-time at Giant Center in conference finals games… The Bears were 1-for-4 on the power play while the Marlies were 0-for-3.

Eastern Conference Finals – Series “M” (best-of-7) 
N1-Toronto Marlies vs. A1-Hershey Bears
Game 1 – Fri., May 20 – HERSHEY 3, Toronto 1
Game 2 – Sat., May 21 – HERSHEY 3, Toronto 2 (OT)
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Hershey at Toronto, 7:30
Game 4 – Fri., May 27 – Hershey at Toronto, 7:30
*Game 5 – Sun., May 29 – Hershey at Toronto, 3:00
*Game 6 – Tue., May 31 – Toronto at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Thu., June 2 – Hershey at Toronto, 7:30
   *if necessary… All times Eastern