Tomas Kundratek

Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey On Earth

November 1st marks the first day of Movember, an event where men across the globe grow mustaches to raise money to fight prostate cancer. Hockey players have been among the most avid supporters of the charity, raising thousands for research and awareness.

Almost the entire Hershey Bears team is participating this year, and some players are trying to one up each other. After Boyd Kane’s wife offered a signed team photo for any person donating $25 or more, Caps prospect Tomas Kundratek responded with his own overture.

No signed jersey or stick. Too rote. Instead, Kundratek is offering to take the fan who donates the most money out to dinner at the finest establishment in Hershey: Houlihan’s! If you’re nice, he might let you order an appetizer.

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Adam Oates Named Co-Coach of Hershey Bears

Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey On Earth

In a move both surprising and logical, the Capitals announced Sunday that Adam Oates would serve as co-coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears with head coach Mark French for the duration of the lockout. Caps assistant coaches Calle Johansson, Tim Hunter, and Blaine Forsythe and goaltending coaches Dave Prior and Olie Kolzig will — in George McPhee’s words — “be involved at different times” and also help out with the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate, Reading Royals.

To adequately take on lockout-loaded teams like Oklahoma City Barons whose roster now features Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Justin Schultz, the Capitals have given their farm team the deepest coaching staff in AHL history.

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SHOE: Check Out the New Hershey Bears Jerseys

Click Here To View The New Logo and Jerseys

Our brotherblog Sweetest Hockey on Earth has great coverage of the Hershey Bears’ new logo, jerseys, and mascot. The new debut was made to celebrate the team’s 75th anniversary. We all think the new design is fantastic, and Coco’s six-pack abs are okay too.

Go read about it over at Sweetest Hockey on Earth.

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SHOE: Hershey Bears Lose Outdoor Classic

Photo credit: Kyle Mace

Photo credit: Kyle Mace

The Hershey Bears lost to the Adirondack Phantoms 4-3. The game was played at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, home of the Phillies, in front of the largest audience in AHL history.

Our sister blog, Sweetest Hockey on Earth, has comprehensive coverage of the game. There’s Brian Mills’ pre-game reminiscence of outdoor hockey, Kyle Mace’s magnificent photos from outdoor practice, the team picture, the pump-up video,  the recap of actual game, and a billion photos of the game.

NHL Network will broadcast the game at 4 PM on Saturday, so, ya know… spoilers.

It’s Raining Bears in Hersey

(Photo credit: Kyle Mace)

Making the Hershey Bears 7-1 victory over the Pirates even sweeter, fans threw over 10 thousand bears on the ice for charity. Check out our Hershey blog, Sweetest Hockey on Earth, for more of Kyle Mace’s photos and Kathryn’s game recap.

It’s impossible not to click this gigantic link.

All photos by Kyle Mace. Click to enlarge.

We heard from reader Matthew W. that Braden Holtby got a new mask this week. Until today, all we had were blurry, long-distance cell phone pictures, but now we’ve got pics from Kyle Mace (of our sister blog Sweetest Hockey On Earth) taken during warm-ups of the Bears/Senators game.

The front of the mask features a bear on a roller coaster (either a reference to Hersheypark or his turbulent offseason) and the Capitals Weagle logo. The back features the flags of Saskatchewan and Alberta (Holtby’s home); the Japanese symbol meaning “Constant Improvement,” the words “Carpe Diem”, and the Hershey Bears logo.

Below the jump, check out Kyle’s hi-res images of Braden’s sweet new headgear. And thanks to Holtby for unknowingly being such a great model.

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Mark French

Photo credit: Hershey Bears Facebook Page

In early February, when Metallurg Novokuznetsk failed to reach the KHL playoffs, Dmitry Orlov worked out a deal with the team’s management. Instead of being sent down to the MHL to play for Metallurg’s affiliate during their playoff run, Orlov started his professional career in the Capitals’ organization to work towards his goal of becoming an NHL player.

He flew to America, and made his AHL debut with the Bears on February 27th. That night, Dima registered an assist, spent time on the power play, and had a first period so solid that Tim Leone called it “the best first 20 minutes from a 19-year-old D I’ve ever seen in this league.”

Orlov went on to total nine points in the remaining 19 games of the AHL regular season, and he experienced his first ever AHL playoff series, a 4-2 series loss to the Charlotte Checkers.

The six-foot Novokuznetsk native is now back in DC, participating in his first ever NHL Training Camp. I caught up with Hershey Bears Head Coach Mark French — the same man who guided the Bears to an AHL record 60 wins and the team’s eleventh Calder Cup in 2010 — and asked him about Orlov’s rookie season, what he needs to improve to make the NHL, and if Dima has the potential to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL.

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Braden Holtby

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

When George McPhee swooped in and signed free agent goalie Tomas Vokoun for a couple bucks and Alex Ovechkin’s now useless stockpile of CCM sticks, there was no doubt it was a great move for the Washington Capitals. But that doesn’t mean everyone was happy with it. 21-year-old netminder Braden Holtby, who looked assured of a roster spot just a day before when the team traded away Semyon Varlamov, was once again relegated to a job with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

We know what Michal Neuvirth, the remaining ‘keeper in the Caps’ trio, thinks about the deal and losing his starting spot. Holtby, however, has been somewhat of a mystery, with head coach Bruce Boudreau admitting during Development Camp even he hasn’t spoken to the Saskatchewan native about the move.

Unbeknownst to us (but not Hockey Ramblings), someone has been able get Holtby’s side of the story. Several weeks ago, The Pipeline Show on Team 1260 Edmonton caught up the young goalie, with Holtby spilling the beans on the crease situation, Nicklas Backstrom’s injuries, why he didn’t think the team’s defensive system was much of a change, and more.

Below, we offer a transcription.

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Videoclip via the Hershey Bears YouTube page

It was a milestone night in Hershey on Saturday. Keith Aucoin registered his 700th career AHL point, Brian Willsie scored his career-high 30th goal of the season and Dmitry Orlov tallied his first career goal at Giant Center. The Bears went on to defeat the Albany Devils 7-4 in front of a sold-out crowd. With the win, Hershey clinched a playoff spot and earned the right to defend their back-to-back Calder Cup Championships.

The most fascinating part of the evening, however, was the line-brawl that was ignited after Brian Willsie scored against the Devils’ fourth line. As the five Bears on the ice went to congratulate each other, Albany tough-guy Chris Murray gave Mathieu Perreault a shove. The feisty, 174 lb. Perreault responded with a flurry of punches and Hershey’s entire line engaged Murray. Pierre-Luc Leblond — yes, the same guy who was suspended earlier in the year for jumping Marcus Johansson — then came to his teammate’s aid, charging towards the pile of Bears as if he were a bowling ball looking for a strike. Mayhem ensued thereafter, as everyone on the ice squared off except for the goalies.

All in all, 34 penalty minutes were doled-out between the two teams, including 14 PIM’s to Leblond and 12 PIM’s to Louis Robitaille. The Bears swept the contentious and brutal season series with Albany, 6-0-0.  Below the jump, Sweetest Hockey On Earth‘s Kyle M. has shared his photos of the brawl.

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A Sheldon Souray Fight in 100 Pictures

The knock-out blow

Mama, said knock you out!

All photos by Kyle M. of Sweetest Hockey On Earth.

In Hershey’s nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals Saturday, Sheldon Souray got in his second fight of the season, choosing Lightning defense prospect Vladimir Mihalik as his combatant. Mihalik, who stands in at a towering 6’8”, was still no match for the 6’4” Souray, a veteran of over 50 NHL fights.

SHOE’s Kyle M. has supplied us with the 100 pictures he took of the fight from the Giant Center’s photo-well. His pictures slow down the thirty-second altercation into a work of art, expertly capturing all the essential elements of a good fight: the grappling, the punches, the emotion, and the knock-out blow. Enjoy!