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The series is square, but Nelson still hopes to get more from his Bears |

Patrick Features Writer

Todd Nelson liked the result.

The process? Well, that takes some work.

This time of year results are all that matters, but Nelson and his Hershey Bears players realize they have to be better – even after defeating the visiting Coachella Valley Firebirds 5-2 in Game 2 of the Calder Cup Finals last night.

The best-of-seven series is at one game apiece.

The defending champion now faces three games this week at Acrisure Arena, where the Firebirds are 6-0 this season and outscored the Bears 16-5 in four games in last year’s final. Game 3 is Tuesday night (10 ET/7 PT, AHLTV).

The Bears headed to Harrisburg International Airport immediately after Sunday’s game on a cross-country flight, landing in Palm Springs around 12:30 a.m. PDT. The Firebirds, who have been on the road for two weeks, flew back to California this morning to prepare for Tuesday night.

“We got away with one,” Nelson said of Game 2. “Let’s call a spade a spade here. They raised their game, and we got worse – maybe because they raised it. I’m happy with the win, but we have to be a lot better if we want to extend this streak.”

Part of the Bears’ challenge over the past two games has been managing the emotional swings and physical slump from their seven-game battle with Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals. That streak ended last Wednesday before the Bears jumped into the playoffs with the well-rested Firebirds. Since the conference finals began, Hershey has played nine games in 18 days; the Firebirds had 11 days off between the end of the regular season and their semi-final opener against Calgary, nine days off before their final against Milwaukee, and five days off before the start of the finals in Hershey.

The Bears managed just 40 field goals in the first two games of the series. They went 12:37 without a shot in the second half of Game 2 before a difficult foreskin created a turnover behind the Coachella Valley net that turned into a turnover. Jimmy Huntington the goal that broke the tie at 1-1. They went without a shot for another 13 minutes at a stretch from late in the second half until almost midway through the third.

Hershey struggles with the Firebirds’ strong game pace, something that has forced the Bears into long stretches where they struggle to clear pucks from dangerous areas. And when asked about the Bears shutting down Coachella Valley’s 6-on-4 late in the game, Nelson was willing to discuss his team’s let-up just 17 seconds into the third period, calling it “unacceptable” and adding that he’s seen the defense. -zone mistakes in the series that he didn’t see from his players all season.

But winning the Calder Cup shouldn’t be easy, and the Bears have a lot going for them. AHL goaltender of the year Hunter Shepard turned in a strong performance in Game 2, stopping 32 of 34 shots.

“If Shep doesn’t play very well, we don’t win that game,” said Nelson.

Pierrick Dube continues to perform impressively following his return from a three-game layoff in the Cleveland series. Dubé stormed the Coachella Valley net on a rush and converted Huntington’s inbounds feed as it rolled heavily into the end boards, a late second-period goal that stood as the game-winner.

Hardy Häman Aktelldescribed by Nelson as the Bears’ best player this postseason, scoring two goals and helping to rally the injured defensive linemen Lucas Johansen, Aaron Ness again Vincent Iorio. The whole goal is forward Matt Strome he returned to last night’s lineup, this time to take over as injured man Garrett Roe.

So the result is there for the Bears, even if the process needs more refinement. In addition, last night’s win avoided the prospect of having to go west two games to one. For all the sunshine, palm trees and beautiful desert scenery, visiting teams do not enjoy the trip to Acrisure Arena.

Anything Nelson says inside the Hershey locker room is taken to heart. So video and rest are two possible remedies for the Bears ahead of Game 3. And even playing at what was far from their best, they managed to lose to an elite Firebirds team.

“Think about the last series,” Huntington said. “We won in seven, we played after 48 hours. I think the energy was a little low [in Game 2]. But, we won the game. We need to win, and we did that. “

But was it said – or was it warned? – Nelson of the Firebirds, “They’re a good team. They’re talented. They’re going to be even better in their home facility. We know what we’re getting ourselves into. I know our team is going to be better because it couldn’t be any worse than it was.” [in Game 2].”

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