Perreault’s OT goal sends Bears to sweep

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Mathieu Perreault scored at 2:23 of overtime as Hershey completed a four-game sweep of Albany with a 5-4 road win over the River Rats on Thursday at the Times Union Center.

The Bears will now move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they await the winner of the Atlantic Division Finals series between Worcester and Manchester.

For the fourth time in four games this series, Hershey had to stage a third-period comeback to put itself in a position to win. This time, the Bears trailed 4-2 by the 10:19 mark of the frame before Alexandre Giroux (16:37) and Perreault (18:47) struck late to send the game to overtime.

The Bears prevailed in the series despite holding a lead for only 10.6 percent of the total hockey played, or 28:39 of action.

Chris Bourque initially gave Hershey a 1-0 lead on the power play 8:23 into the contest, but Jerome Samson and Chris Terry scored to put Albany on top 2-1 heading into intermission.

Bourque tied it at 2-2 with his second power play goal of the night just 59 seconds into the second frame, only to watch Zach Boychuk score unassisted at 10:31 to restore the River Rats’ lead.

Boychuk added another unassisted tally midway through the third period to make it a 4-2 game, but it was all Bears from that point on.

Bourque had a hand in all five goals for Hershey, scoring twice and assisting on the other three. Keith Aucoin chipped in two assists in the win, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth made 17 saves in net.

Rookie Drayson Bowman had two assists for Albany, while 2010 AHL All-Star goaltender Justin Peters stopped 34 shots between the pipes.

Thursday’s loss brings the curtain down on the River Rats franchise’s 17-year old stay in Albany. The River Rats, who won the Calder Cup in 1995, will relocate to Charlotte, N.C., for the 2010-11 season.