Photo credit: Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Kyle Mace
Washington Capitals 2012 first-round pick Tom Wilson has played just two games for the Hershey Bears, but he’s already made a huge impact. After scoring 9 goals (including a hat trick) and 17 points in 12 playoff games with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, Wilson scored his first professional goal on Sunday for the Hershey Bears. And it happened because he got under the skin of 2011-12 AHL leading scorer Chris Bourque.
One look at the dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks and it becomes apparent that the life blood of any hockey organization is its youth. If you can bring in young players that provide value at reasonable prices you have the ability to succeed in the long term. In the case of the Hershey Bears, it allows the Caps to fill their team with players who know how to win and execute Bruce Boudreau’s system.
The challenge then becomes not only which players to promote, but which players should be dangled in a trade and which you can simply cut bait with. The underlying question in all of this is simply: Does the front office feel a certain prospect can make it in the NHL?
Readers, we politely remind you of our policy regarding hockey rumors from Russia: Lie down until it goes away.
The news out of Russia today has been dissonant. The KHL club Atlant, based in the Moscow region, updated its roster with one noteworthy addition. According to atlant-mo.ru, Atlant has signed three-time Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bear Chris Bourque to a two-year deal.
From the press release:
American forward Chris Bourque agreed on our offer and signed a contract with our club today. Terms of this agreement are intended for two years.
Later, in an interview with Tim Leone of The Patriot-News, the playoffs MVP said he hasn’t signed a contract yet: “It’s not official. . . I’m talking to them. But nothing official, that’s for sure.”
Has Atlant jumped the gun? Is Chris entertaining other offers? Or is he just waiting for the right time to let us down easy. If the news is true, we’ll be very bummed that Chris is leaving Hershey. On the other hand, that KHL contract probably comes with a car, a condo, and a handle of excellent vodka.
What do you make of the news?
Last night was the Hershey Bears Calder Cup party at Giant Center. RMNB could not attend, but our spies are everywhere. From the aperture of Kyle Mace comes a parade of Bears images. Let’s take a second to appreciate Alexandre Giroux‘s aviator sunglasses, maniacal beard, and spraying bottles akimbo. The man is one bass solo away from joining Motorhead.
Here is Kyle’s video:
Glorious stills after the jump!
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!!!!”
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:
After an absolutely dreadful start which saw the Bears take a 3-1 deficit into the first intermission, even the most optimistic of Bears fans would have thought that the chances of Hershey coming back in this series were slim. But Head Coach Mark French showed confidence in his players and made the necessary adjustments. He allowed Michal Neuvirth to return in net for the second period, despite witnessing last year’s playoff MVP flub a clearing attempt on a first-period powerplay. Neuvy’s whiff led to Texas’s second goal of the night, an unassisted short-handed goal by Francis Wathier. French then subtlety tinkered with his forward combinations promoting Chris Bourque to the top line and dropping the 2008-09 AHL MVP, Alexandre Giroux, to the second. It paid immediate dividends.
Hershey went on to score five unanswered goals, punctuated by two third period tallies by Andrew Gordon which included the eventual game-winning goal. The Hershey Bears win 6-3. The high-octane offense has returned!
For Game 2 of the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Hershey Bears were in front of a sold-out and enthusiastic Saturday Night crowd of 10,726 and they did not disappoint. Chris Bourque tallied the game’s first goal with a slapshot from the right faceoff dot. The Monarchs’ Gabe Gauthier would then score back to back goals to make it 2-1. It would stay that way until the 3rd period when Hershey’s Steve Pinizzotto would score his second goal in two games and send it into overtime. That’s when the miniature-sized Chris Bourque would take in a pass from Keith Aucoin on a 2 on 1 and score short-side at 10:28 of the first OT giving Hershey their 5th playoff OT win of the year. Bourque’s (6g 12a) clutch second goal of the night also tied him for first place in the AHL Playoff Scoring Race with teammate Alexandre Giroux (10g 8a). Both have 18 points a piece and are now 1 point ahead of the Texas Stars’ Jamie Benn (who none of us have ever heard of).
Hershey now has a record of 10-1 in the playoffs and have won all 5 games that have gone into OT. The Bears will now travel to Manchester, New Hampshire and try to take a 3-0 series lead Monday.
Take a look at the rest of Kyle’s incredible photos from the game after the jump.
It had been 12 days since the Hershey Bears last played. And tonight it only took 16 seconds for them to shake off the rust.
Sean Collins wicked shot from the point opened the scoring in Game 1 of Hershey’s Eastern Conference Finals Series against the Manchester Monarchs, and Andrew Gordon’s rebound tally on the powerplay 10 minutes later in the first period gave Hershey a 2 goal lead they’d never relinquish. Steve Pinizzotto (GWG) and Karl Alzner also chipped in with goals for the Bears on a night where they improved to 9-1 in this year’s postseason and won their 6th consecutive playoff game.
Tonight, the Hershey Bears rallied to win 5-4 in OT and swept the Albany River Rats in their second round series four games to none. With the thrilling victory, the Bears now advance to the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth time in five years! HERSHEY
RUSSIAN MACHINE NEVER BREAKS!
Left Wing Chris Bourque accumulated a third of his 15 total points in the playoffs tonight, as he scored or assisted on every Bears goal. He finished the game with 2 goals, 3 assists and 5 points. Bourque scored at 8:23 in the first period and then again 59 seconds into the second frame. However, the River Rats answered each of Bourque’s talleys with two goals of their own, and entered the third with a commanding 4-2 lead.
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