Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

Back in the 2009-2010, the Washington Capitals dominated the NHL’s regular season, capturing the franchise’s first-ever Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team. While the Caps lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round that year, their top minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears, had different fortunes in the playoffs, winning their their second consecutive American Hockey League championship. It was the storied team’s 11th Calder Cup.

Six years later, Braden Holtby, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, and Jay Beagle — all stars from that championship Bears team — guided Washington to another Presidents’ Trophy this season. But once again, the Caps made an early playoff exit. The Bears, however, are still playing hockey in June, competing in their first Calder Cup Finals since their championship in 2010. But after Friday night’s 5-3 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters, Hershey faces a 0-2 series hole, though both games in the series have been relatively tight affairs.

“It’s not over by any means,” said Aaron Ness, who had two points in eight games with the Caps this season. “We’re excited for the challenge, we’re excited for the next game, and we’re ready to go.”

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Photo: Hershey Bears

The Hershey Bears just disposed of the Toronto Marlies in five games, earning their first trip to the Calder Cup Finals since 2010. The chocolate and white will play the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters (who has hockey’s hottest new tradition) in the championship series beginning Wednesday.

The Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring two goals in the first 2:13 of the second period. The Marlies chipped away and made it close, scoring once in the second period and then a second time midway through the third period. But the Bears would hold on, with NHL veteran Justin Peters making 21 saves.

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Hello, Capitals fans. As you mourn, you may wish for a hockey fix to fill that hole in your heart. If the NHL’s playoffs can’t do justice for you because you begin to weep every time you hear Pierre McGuire’s voice (oh, that’s a normal symptom when he talks?), I have just the hockey fix for you.

The Hershey Bears.

Let me give you an introduction to the organization and this year’s team.

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On Sunday evening, Capitals AHL Affiliate Hershey Bears defeated Penguins AHL Affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (aka the Baby Pens) in Game Seven overtime thanks to a beautiful goal by Travis Boyd. The series proved two things: 1) the Bears’ superiority, and 2) these teams don’t like each other. There were fights galore, including a gathering of the teams at center ice during warm-ups before Game Four that only a Hanson brother could love.

After the game, we got requests from Bears fans to make a WBS version of our ever-popular Deadguins shirt. Have we ever let you down before?

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At the trade deadline, the Washington Capitals traded Brooks Laich and prospect Connor Carrick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Daniel Winnik. After spending some time with the big club during the regular season, Carrick and his American Hockey League Toronto Marlies will face the Hershey Bears in the Eastern Conference Finals.

On Monday, the Marlies defeated the Albany Devils in a dramatic Game Seven. Carrick put the Marlies up 3-2 late in the third period.

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Last night, the Hershey Bears defeated the WBS Penguins in Game Seven with Caps prospect Travis Boyd playing the hero.

Bears radio announcer, Scott Stuccio, was — let’s just say — excited during the goal call.

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Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

The Caps’ affiliate just dispatched the Penguins’ affiliate in the second round of the AHL playoffs. It was all because of Caps’ 2011 sixth round pick Travis Boyd.

The 22-year-old prospect scored the biggest goal of his professional career, tucking a beautiful no-angle shot underneath the crossbar after skating out from behind the Baby Pens net.

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Photo: Kyle Mace

The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins are currently engaged in a brutal playoff series, which has featured multiple head shots and two suspensions. Meanwhile, in the American Hockey League, the two organizations’ farm teams are playing each other and things have gotten feisty as well.

Monday during Game Four, Hershey Bears and WBS Penguins players almost brawled during warm-ups, trash talking each other at center ice. According to Chocolate Hockey’s Kyle Mace, Penguins’ forward Tom Sestito tripped Liam O’Brien, looking for a fight. After the game, the rivalry spilled onto social media, with O’Brien verbally eviscerating Sestito on Twitter.

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Jonas Siegenthaler First AHL Point

Photo: Kyle Mace/Chocolate Hockey

While the Capitals had last night off, their minor-league AHL affiliate Hershey Bears delivered a shellacking to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Bears won 8-0, which included two goals 19 seconds apart. Per the AHL’s PR, it was Hershey’s largest margin of victory in a road shutout in the team’s 78-year history.

It was also a memorable night for one of the Capitals’ newest prospects. Via Chocolate Hockey, 18-year-old defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler scored his first AHL point in his first AHL game, assisting on a second period goal scored by Erik Burgdoerfer.

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Photo: Hoodie Allen

Before Wiz Khalifa and Fallout Boy performed at Giant Center tonight, opener Hoodie Allen took the stage. And the rapper did so in a Hershey Bears jersey. This is tremendous. This is almost as cool as Snoop Dogg rapping in a Caps jersey.

There’s much, much more about it at Chocolate Hockey, a Bears blog run by former RMNB member and my forever little brother Kyle Mace. Check it out >>

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