Bears one win away

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We’re live from Hershey, where the Bears just went through an optional practice at Giant Center. Hershey defeated Manitoba 2-1 last night on the strength of a power-play goal from Keith Aucoin and some late heroics from Michal Neuvirth and the penalty killers in front of him.

The building was packed and rocking last night (Note: I arrived during the second intermission and only got to see the third period in person. The commute to the Giant Center from Detroit is much, much further than from DC), and the Bears expect another raucous environment Tuesday night in Game 5. Hershey will try to clinch the Calder Cup for the second time in four years, and both teams expect to have their full assortment of players available.

Karl Alzner has now played two games since returning from his concussion. He said he was tired Saturday night but felt better last night. He joked that he’s out of shape, but the chance to win the Calder Cup is giving him an extra boost of wind and a little more jump to his legs.

Alzner is also the go-to guy for restaurant recommendations after he suggested the Hershey Pantry earlier in this postseason — I also whole-heartedly offer my stamp of approval.

Neuvirth was a rock in the final period last night, even with Manitoba pressing for the equalizer. He made three saves in the final 15 seconds or so when the Moose had two extra skaters on the ice thanks to a penalty and an empty net at the other end.

It is a big night for hockey in this state tomorrow, with the Bears going for the kill here and Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final about 3 1/2 hours to the west of here.

We’ll have both showdowns covered — I’m spending my afternoon on the wonderful Pennsylvania turnpike and will be at Mellon Arena tomorrow night, while my comrade Stephen Whyno will be here in Chocolatetown.

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