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Game 4 adjustment helps Bears pull back even |

Patrick Features Writer

Going into Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals last night, the Hershey Bears decided to look at their predicament differently.

They dropped the best-of-seven series to two games to one with the Coachella Valley Firebirds following a 6-2 loss in Game 3 on Tuesday. Trying to hang on for dear life didn’t work against an offense as strong as Coachella Valley, especially since the Bears lost their top three defenders. Aaron Ness, Lucas Johansen again Vincent Iorio in injury.

Something had to change – and quickly – or risk the Firebirds turning this entire series into a rout.

“I hate the word ‘hot weather,'” the head coach Todd Nelson he told the media Thursday morning about the skate. “We have to fight with fire.”

The Bears brought fire right from Game 4. They stopped the first and last shot of the period, but in the middle they outscored the Firebirds 11-2 and took a 1-0 lead. Ethan Frank10th goal in the playoffs. It was only the third time this series that the Bears have outscored the Coachella Valley in some time. After allowing 42 shots in Game 3, Hershey cut that number to 24 last night.

And when Coachella Valley responded, going 1-0 and 2-1, the Bears responded. Nelson criticized some of his leading scorers after a 5-2 win in Game 2. They brought them into Game 4, with Frank (1g, 2a), Hendrix Lapierre (1g, 2a) and Joe Snively (1g, 1a) combined for eight points in a 3-2 doubles series win. Game 5 is Saturday at Acrisure Arena (9 ET/6 PT, AHLTV, NHL Network).

The tone of the series may have changed again, the latest twist in a tense rivalry that has developed through back-to-back meetings in the finals. It’s now best-of-three and home-ice advantage is back with the Bears, who will host Game 6 on Monday and, if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.

The defending champions have shown that when their situation looks the worst, they can rally. Going back to last spring, the Bears are 5-1 in games when they trail the series, including four straight wins against the Firebirds in that stretch since falling behind 2-0 in the 2023 final. They also won two Game 7s, playing Coachella Valley last year and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. Hershey seems comfortable in the tightrope.

They got a big boost minutes before Game 4 when Ness read the first series in the locker room. The veteran defenseman has missed the last eight games for the Bears, but did skate in warmups last night.

“It was a big deal,” Frank said. “Just having him in the room and even on the ice with us was a great feeling. Everyone was very happy. “

The Bears handed the Firebirds their first loss at home in the playoffs, and forced their opponents to regroup before Game 5.

“It’s great to know that we’re bringing this series back to Hershey,” said Nelson. “It’s fitting that the top two teams in the league, it looks like it’s going to be a long series.”

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