It’s always about the start for the Portland Pirates: come out hard, set the tone and play your game.

Friday night, they couldn’t have done it much better. The Pirates jumped out fast, then held off a late surge by the Hershey Bears to win the opening game of their best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinals.

Rob Schremp and Shane Harper each scored two goals as Portland earned a 6-4 victory over the Bears before a crowd of 3,959 at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The Pirates skated to a 2-0 lead in the opening period and did a good job containing Hershey’s high-powered offense for most of the night.

Game 2 of the series is at 7 p.m. Saturday at the CIA, where the Pirates have won all three games against Hershey this year. After that the series shifts to Pennsylvania for however many games it takes to finish.

“I thought our guys were ready from the outset,” said Pirates Coach Scott Allen. “And they executed.”


That start put the Bears on their heels and they could never fully recover.

“You want to come out hard in the first 10 minutes and kind of set the tone,” said Hershey Coach Troy Mann. “And they certainly did that. I thought a lot of our younger players looked like they had some nerves early.”

But the Bears hung tough, trailing only 2-1 after one period and 3-2 after two. The Pirates then took control in the third, scoring two goals within 11 seconds to make it 5-2.

Harper, who missed 16 games with an injury, got the first on a brilliant move. He kicked the puck away from Hershey defenseman Christian Djoos behind the net into the right corner. Then he came out of the corner, deked around Djoos, who looked exhausted, and beat Hershey goalie Dan Ellis with a high backhander to give Portland a 4-2 advantage with 16:48 remaining.

“He stepped up big time,” said Allen. “We needed that from him. He needed that for himself.”

“Monster goal,” said Schremp. “What a performance on that play by Shane, just resilient and didn’t give up. He got hit two or three times on the same shift and just kept with it.”


Harper spoke pretty matter-of-factly about the play: “I came out of the corner and kind of looked and there was one defenseman there. I just tried to make a quick move, it worked out in my favor and I just took a backhander when I got closer to the net. It went it.”

Eleven seconds later it was 5-2 on Schremp’s second goal of the game. Mann called a time-out – and not just to settle his team down.

“I think we knew we hadn’t played a great game to that point,” he said. “I told them no matter what happened the rest of the way we needed to set the tone for tomorrow night’s game. And I think we did that.”

The Bears came within 5-4 on two goals by Tyler Lewington, the second with 4:46 remaining. “You could see how fast they could strike there in the third,” said Harper. “It got a little hairy there.”

But the Pirates held on because Allen told them to simply play their game.

“We prepared all week for this team, this game, this series,” he said. “There were no surprises. Everything they did tonight we were prepared for. I didn’t want the guys to get away from that. I wanted them to have the confidence to close them out and fortunately that’s what we did.”

The Pirates, who also got goals from Kyle Rau (first period) and Brett Olsen (second), got the puck deep and Hershey couldn’t pull Ellis for an extra attacker. Chris Bourque of Hershey took a slashing penalty with 55 seconds left and Harper got his second goal with 10 seconds remaining to seal it.

Now Hershey will look to get a split – “Ideally you’d love to steal two, but trying to get the split would be ideal for us now,” said Mann – while the Pirates will look to open a big advantage.

“We knew the stakes here,” said Schremp of the series opener. “And they do have home-ice advantage so we need to take care of our end of it.”

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