The key to Game 1 of Round 1 of the 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs, especially since Round 1 is a best-of-3 series, was whichever team was going to come out more quickly. There’s not a lot of time in a three game series to recover from mistakes or slow starts.
That team was the WBS Penguins, who got two goals 31 seconds apart in the first period, then rode starting goaltender Tommy Nappier to a 23-save shutout to take the 1-0 series advantage.
It starts tonight. Our lineup to kick off our 69th playoff run in franchise history. pic.twitter.com/qVDq8rJHTx— x - Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) May 6, 2022
Defender Will Reilly struck first at 8:34 of the first on a very smart step-up from the blue line. Forward Jonathan Gruden and defender Pierre-Olivier Joseph assisted on the goal.
Just 31 seconds later, the most impactful mid-season acquisition WBS has had in many years, Alex Nylander, deflected a Radim Zohorna shot into the net for a 2-0 WBS lead. Joseph also assisted on this goal for his second helper in less than a minute.
If not for a slick right pad save from Hershey starter Pheonix Copley on Nylander, it could have been 3-0 in the first. WBS dominated the shot counter in the first period, 15-3.
The second period was played a bit more evenly, with each team getting 9 shots. The middle session was highlighted largely by a fight between Hershey’s Kale Kessy and WBS’s Jamie Devane, but neither team managed a goal.
Here’s a look at the Devane-Kessy tussle from the second period. pic.twitter.com/vPCTgEILwo— X - WBS Penguins (@WBSPenguins) May 7, 2022
Hershey turned up the heat in the third period, outshooting WBS 11-7 in the final 20 minutes, but the defense and Nappier stood tall. Zohorna finished the proceedings with a rare power play empty net goal at 19:26 of the third to give WBS the 3-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 4,919 that was much, much louder than the given number.
Joseph took third star honors with his two assists. Reilly took second honors with his game-winning goal. Nappier was the well-deserving first star of the game with a 23-save shutout, his second straight shutout against the Bears. For the Bears, starting goaltender Copley finished with 28 saves on 30 shots.
The WBS penalty kill dispatched all three Hershey advantages over the course of the night, while the WBS power play ended 1 for 2 on account of Zohorna’s goal.
The series now moves to Hershey for Game 2 at GIANT Center Sunday afternoon, May 8, start time 5:00 pm EDT. Should Hershey prevail, the tie-breaking Game 3 would be back in WBS Monday, May 9, start time 7:05 pm EDT.