Tonight, we had the pleasure of having our own Hershey Correspondent Kyle M. down on the ice as the Hershey Bears celebrated their 11th Championship in Franchise History. And boy did he get some great photos.
Below the jump, check out Bryan Helmer hoisting the Calder Cup, the Bourque family celebrating Chris’s MVP Award, Doug Yingst getting a champagne shower from Michal Neuvirth and Francois Bouchard losing his dang mind. The overriding theme of these photos is “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
The Bears’ 4-0 blowout of the Texas Stars is a fitting punctuation on the team’s 60-win season.
In this, the team’s eleventh Calder Cup championship-clinching game, the Bears’ did everything right. Michal Neuvirth was sterling in net; the team owned puck possession, second chances, and shots on goal (36); and the scoring came from depth– namely the blueliners. John Carlson‘s first-period sweeper was Captain America’s second GWG of the series, and his second championship goal of the year. Karl Alzner rounded out the first period with his own tally through Brent Krahn‘s 7-hole. Patrick McNeill had goals in both the second and third periods. And let’s not forget that Chris Bourque, who led the AHL in playoff goals, rightfully claimed the MVP trophy.
When Captain Bryan Helmer hoisted the Cup and passed it to his teammates, he ended one of the most dominating seasons in AHL history. The Bears ’09-’10 season contained 342 goals (no other team had 280) and a stunning 24-game winning streak at home. In this series the team overcame a two-game deficit, won three games on the road, and tonight delivered a decisive knockout blow. There is no shortage of acclaim for the Bears.
The bearded horde of Hershey has earned the right to shave, but even moreso the right to party. May the law officers of Dauphin County look the other way until dawn, because the Chocolate and White have finally won.
After losing the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals at home, the Hershey Bears are now one win away from raising the Calder Cup for the eleventh time in club history, and in back-to-back years. Holy Schnikes!!
But despite Hershey’s 3 game sweep of Texas at Cedar Park Center, the Stars can still draw confidence off Games 1 and 2 where they frustrated the AHL’s highest scoring team. Which Bears team will show up Monday for Game 6? The one that tried to play fancy, stick around the perimeter and let it’s emotions get the best of them, or the one that played simple, went hard to the net and kept its cool?
Today, Hershey held a 45-60 minute practice at Giant Center and Bears first line center Keith Aucoin hoped it was the latter:
Alexandre Giroux’s overtime goal has put the Hershey Bears ahead (3-2) of the Stars for the first time in the Calder Cup Finals series. From his seat on the Bears charter jet, right wing Andrew Gordon sets the stage for the series’ completion in Hershey. He discusses the vibe in the dressing room, disparities in travel between the NHL and AHL, and predicts some excellent hockey to come.
We finally arrive to the point in the season that we have been waiting for all along. After taking tonight’s game in Texas, we return home with a 3-2 series lead, and more importantly, a chance at the championship. They say the fourth win in a series is always the hardest one to get, but considering the battles we have just fought in games four and five, I don’t see how it could get much tougher. Both teams seem evenly matched through five games. One favorable bounce here or a tough call there has made all the difference, but a win is a win, and we have found a way to win three games in their building. Our confidence is high.
Giant Center was rocking on Friday night. A crowd of 2,000+ came to GC to cheer on their beloved Bears and watch Game 5 on the big screen. By games end, it sounded more like 10,000. Thanks Alexandre Giroux.
Hershey will try and win the Calder Cup Monday in front of a crowd of nearly 11,000. Tickets for Game 6 sold out in a little under three hours.
Cumberland Valley High’s Class of 2010 Graduation Ceremony will have to wait. The Bears have some unfinished business to take care of.
Bears 2010 Playoff Stats
8-2 at home
8-2 scoring first goal
7-3 allowing first goal
11-2 when out shooting
3-3 when out shot
2-1 leading after 1
3-1 leading after 2
(6-0 leading after 3)
7-1 Trailing after 1
5-2 Trailing after 2
6-3 tied after 1
7-2 tied after 2
9-4 one goal games
2-0 two goal games
And oh yeah, if the Bears are forced to play a Game 7, Hershey is 4-0 on Wednesdays.
Keith Aucoin shoots while Aaron Gagnon surely does nothing meriting a penalty. (Chris Knight / The Patriot-News)
You gotta give the Bears this: they know drama. Despite the Hershey offense being well tuned and on-target all throughout game five, the visitors could not gain a lead over the Stars. By the end of regulation, the Bears had notched 37 shots, but all but one were summarily blocked by the excellent Stars netminder Matt Climie. It took nearly fifteen minutes of extra hockey for Alexander Giroux to finally defeat the Stars defense and create Hershey’s first game-lead of the series. The Bears beat the Stars 2-1 in overtime to put the series at 3-2, Hershey.
Don’t be mistaken by the low score; this was a 70+ minute exhibition of superb hockey. The refs all but abandoned the concept of adjudicating hockey. The two teams traded off in puck domination and net aggression. Players dove to block shots with astounding frequency, and no player seemed to forget this is the finals– even when exhausted. Michal Neuvirth, without a doubt, deserves tonight’s MVP nod for having rebuffed the Stars on perhaps a dozen excellent scoring chances. John Carlson and Kyle Wilson, too, deserve applause for their precise defensive and shot output respectively.
But it was Alexandre Giroux, all but silenced before this play, who stepped up in overtime to score the game-winner. Roo pounced on a loose puck and swatted it in with a tenacity and alacrity that Climie could not match. After blocking 41 shots, Climie was finally defeated the goalie by Alex’s force of will. As John Walton would say, “Good morning, good evening, good night!”
The Bears are probably airborne right now, headed home to Hershey for the final one or two games of the series. The Chocolate and White now have two chances to win the Calder Cup, and they seem more determined to do so than ever.
John Carlson’s third period goal lifted the Bears to a pivotal win over the Texas Stars. The series is now tied at 2-2 with only one game remaining in Texas. Andrew Gordon reflects on the meaning of last night’s win, a few differences between the NHL and the AHL, and the tribulations of team sports.
Tonight is a new night, and we can all breath a little easier. Going down 3-1 is pretty much the same as going down 3-0 in my opinion, so tonight was as much of a must win as Monday.
When we left Hershey, our focus was winning our way home. We wanted to take a minimum of two games in Texas to assure there would be at least one more game back in Hershey. After learning from our experience in the first two games, we felt we would me be a much different team if we could return home for game six. We have achieved that little goal through these two games in Austin, and with a third game still to play we may be able to return home on the verge of a Championship! That’s a drastic shift from the attitude last week.
Above: Hershey celebrates their Game 4 win. Top: John Carlson does it again. This time, he redirects the GWG Home on a Bears PP. (Photos by Chris Knight, The Patriot-News)
Tonight could have gone very differently. Despite rediscovering their offensive mojo, the Hershey Bears could not generate a lead over the Texas Stars. With the end of regulation looming, the Bear shook off the threat of a do-or-die game 5 with Captain America John Carlson’s razor-sharp deflection past Stars goalie Matt Climie. An empty netter from Alexandre Giroux sealed the deal, and now we’re facing a unique prospect: the Calder Cup will be awarded in Hershey. With the series finally tied, the only question remains who will claim it.
Andrew Gordon continues his RMNB residency by providing a glance at the Hershey Bears’ trip to Texas. In anticipation of tonight’s game (8:30 on Comcast SportsNet), Andrew shares some photos of himself posing with Mathieu Perreault in the locker room, the Bears boarding their jet, and Captain America John Carlson mugging for the camera on ice.