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Bears survive Game 1 on Vecchione OT winner |

Mike Vecchione hit an odd-man rush 7:58 into overtime to give the Hershey Bears a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Monsters in Thursday night's Eastern Conference Finals opener.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Saturday at the Giant Center.

Vecchione completed the pass Alex Limoges gave the Bears a 1-0 series lead after he gave up two late goals.

Ethan Frankwho started Hershey's series win over Hartford in the previous round, returned to the lineup and scored his sixth goal of the postseason to put the Bears on the board first 4:24 into the contest.

Cleveland responded with two goals in a 1:21 span early in the second half, as Hunter McKown again Alex Whelan goal to put the Monsters ahead.

Hershey answered at 6:15 of the second when Vecchione's shot went wide Aaron Ness went in, tying the game at 2-2. Chase Priskie again Hendrix Lapierre scored on the power play, and the Bears led 4-2 in the waning minutes of regulation.

But the Monsters forced overtime by scoring twice in the final 83 seconds of the third period. Trey Fix-Wolansky hit a low shot with the Monsters skating on a 6-on-4 power play advantage at 18:37, and David Jiricek around the offensive end before finding a shot home with 19.1 seconds left.

Hershey, 4-0 in overtime during their 2023 championship run, was playing its first OT game of the postseason. The Monsters were 7-2 all-time in overtime playoff games.

Hunter Shepard (7-1) for 21 Bears. Jet Greaves turned away 30 Cleveland shots.

(Hershey leads series, 1-0)
Game 1 – Thursday, May 30 – HERSHEY 5, Cleveland 4 (OT)
Game 2 – Sat., June 1 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
Game 3 – Tue., June 4 – Hershey at Cleveland, 7:00
Game 4 – Thursday, June 6 – Hershey at Cleveland, 7:00
*Game 5 – Sat., June 8 – Hershey at Cleveland, 7:00
*Game 6 – Mon., June 10 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*Game 7 – Wed., June 12 – Cleveland at Hershey, 7:00
*if necessary… All times in Mpumalanga

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