WINNIPEG - Moose winger Jason Jaffray didn't need to search for words to describe his hat trick's game-winner in Manitoba's 3-1 victory over the Hershey Bears Tuesday night in game 2 of the AHL's Calder Cup final.
The win tied the series 1-1. Jaffray's second goal with 47 seconds left in regulation was the goal of his seven-year pro career.
"I've played in some big games, but haven't scored any overtime goals in the final or anything like that," said Jaffray, who had one goal in his last 11 games heading into Tuesday's match.
"I think the situation that the team was in, I mean it has to be the biggest goal of my career."
Jaffray's marker against Bears rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth gave his team the 2-1 lead and he added an empty-netter with 10 seconds left before a roaring crowd of 14,737 at the MTS Centre (cap. 15,003).
The best-of-seven series between the Western Conference-champion Moose and Eastern champion Bears shifts to Hershey, Pa., for the next three games.
Game 3 is Saturday, Game 4 Sunday and Game 5, if necessary, next Tuesday. If Games 6 or 7 are needed, both will be played in Winnipeg on June 12 and June 14.
"Obviously (Jaffray's) been trying to find his scoring touch," Moose head coach Scott Arniel said.
"You know what, he got a typical Jaff goal that first one - crashing the net, getting himself a rebound. And obviously a huge (goal) there late in the third."
Arniel had added Michael Grabner to the line of Jaffray and centre Jason Krog and thought they were dangerous all night.
The win is a huge boost to the Moose, who didn't want to go to Hershey down 2-0.
On the plus side, the AHL regular-season champion Moose (50-23-1-6) had the league's best road record at 25-10-1-4. Hershey was one point behind Manitoba in the standings and were 27-10-0-3 at home.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us in that (Hershey) building," Arniel said.
"It's a tough barn to play in ... they have a real good home record and we'll just have to take our game that we usually play ... on the road and just take that out there and hopefully have success as well."
Hershey head coach Bob Woods credited Neuvirth and Moose goalie Cory Schneider with nixing scoring chances.
"I thought it was another great hockey game," said Woods, whose team won Game 1 with a 5-4 overtime victory.
"I think you can see there's starting to get a little more intensity and a little more hatred and I think you're going to see more of that as the series goes."
The game's first goal at 12:31 of the first period came off the stick of Hershey winger and playoff scoring leader Alexandre Giroux, whose hat trick in Game 1 included the game-winner.
It was Giroux's 13th goal of the playoffs and 24rd point. He had a league-leading 60 goals and 97 points in the regular season and was the AHL's MVP.
Manitoba evened it up on the power play 7:59 into the second on Jaffray's second goal.
The Moose outshot the Bears 30-28. Manitoba was 1-3 on the power play and Hershey 0-3.
Manitoba is looking for the franchise's first championship in its 13-year history. It joined the AHL in 2001 after five seasons in the former International Hockey League.
Hershey is chasing its 10th AHL title.
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