It was only one week ago that the Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup in a 4-0 rout. It was their second championship in as many years, their third in five years, and the eleventh in franchise history. Andrew Gordon writes to share his thoughts on the championship, the celebration, and what happens now.
Life has a million ways to make you feel good, and a million ways to make you feel miserable. In my 24 years, I have found only one way to feel like a champion (make that two ways now). It’s a feeling that all players at all levels try to put into words but can’t ever find the exact way to express it.
It’s a combination of happiness, excitement, relief, satisfaction, fulfillment and complete bliss all mixed together and topped with a touch of “thank God it’s over.”
A championship win is so much different than a regular-season win because there is nothing left to accomplish after it’s over. There is no refocusing for your next opponent. No pasta meal waiting for you before tomorrow’s game. No more playing through injury or sickness. It’s all over, and you have nothing else to think about. It’s as if half of your brain suddenly has nothing to do, so it just shuts down and lets the 8-year-old in you run wild.
In the championship moment, nothing matters except the guys around you. I know there was some intense crowd noise as the buzzer sounded in Hershey, especially compared winning on the road in Manitoba, but I don’t remember hearing a sound. It is like I blocked out everything else in the building except the pile of players huddled around the crease. As you fly over the bench, all you want is to be there with the boys, celebrating what you have just accomplished.
When my career is over, I might not remember the score of the game, but I’ll always remember the feeling of jumping that bench (and falling on my face, if you watch the tape) and sprinting towards the rest of the guys.
Michal Neuvirth begins the celebration a few seconds before the final buzzer. (Sean Simmers, The Patriot-News)
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.Bears 2010 Playoff Stats
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.
Clear your social calendar for Monday, June 14.
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.
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.
A view of the arena in Austin from the top row.
Andrew Gordon scored two of the Bears’ six goals in last night’s game with the Texas Stars, including the game winner. In today’s piece, Andrew discusses the win, getting over the bad breaks of the first period, and digging deep in the post season.
I don’t need to explain how badly we needed to win this game. Going down 3-0 with two more games in their building just wasn’t an option. We needed to make a statement about who we are, and we did just that. It didn’t look good early though. After letting up a goal on the first shot of the game (a ricochet off of Boyd Kane’s skate), and a shorthanded tap in after a miscue between Neuvy and our defenseman, I felt like nothing could go right. We were a team stuck in Murphy’s Law: Whatever could go wrong, seemed to.
After the first period, all the talk in the dressing room was about us. We knew we couldn’t take back the bad bounces that happened. We couldn’t play that period over again. But we knew if we used the last 40 minutes to play the way we know how, and stick to the game plan we could give ourselves a chance. From that point forward our attitude was completely different. We started shooting the puck, driving the net, limiting the odd man rushes against and only made high risk plays when it absolutely had to be done. By not giving them anything for free, we slowly started to take over. Every shift was like shooting a little more energy into our veins. We started to believe in ourselves and our abilities again. By the time the third period started, we had our swagger back. We were the Bears again, and when that buzzer sounded to end tonight’s game my thoughts shot back to the feeling I had so often this season. I got a taste of winning again, and as a team I can safely say we liked it.
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