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!!!!”
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.
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!
If you’ve ever played a competitive sport at any high-level, you know the importance of momentum. It’s something that cannot be accurately measured by statistics, but its presence will never show up on any box-score. Watching game two of the Calder Cup Finals between the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars tonight, it was obvious who had momentum in the final ten minutes of the game: The Hershey Bears. Despite the Chocolate and White never leading during regulation, Andrew Gordon’s electrifying put-back off a Patrick Wellar shot from the right point rallied the troops and tied the game 3-3 with 9:16 to go. And after Stars’ Defenseman Matt Stephenson went off for a four-minute double minor for high-sticking towards the tail end of a Bears Powerplay, it seemed like fate was on the Bears side.
It was not to be. The Bears could not score during the ensuing 31 seconds of their 5 on 3 advantage and fretted away the first 1:16 of their 5 on 4. Then, after a whistle, Boyd Kane lost his temper during a scrum and speared a Texas player. The back linesman saw it, notified the head official, and Kane was sent off for four minutes, negating the rest of the Bears Powerplay. Hello, 4-on-4 hockey. Goodbye, momentum.
Tonight the Hershey Bears will look to advance to the Calder Cup Finals for the fourth time in five years if they can outlast the Manchester Monarchs in Game 6 at Giant Center. Below are some photos from pregame warm-ups via our Hershey correspondent Kyle M. You can hear the game called live by John Walton here:
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.
The Hershey Bears concluded a brutal stretch of four games in five mornings/nights today, as they took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at 1:00 p.m. The game, originally scheduled for 3PM, was bumped up two hours early to accommodate the Gold Medal Game between the United States and Canada.
In his first start since returning from the Russian National Team in the Olympics (and eating McDonald’s everyday), Semyon Varlamov played splendidly against the Baby Pens stopping 30 shots and thwarting three consecutive opportunities in the shootout as the Bears prevailed 2-1. After falling behind 2-0 in the shootout, clutch goals by Keith Aucoin, Alex Giroux and the previous night’s hero (more on that later) Mathieu Perreault allowed Hershey to win the shootout 3-2. Kyle Wilson scored Hershey’s lone goal of the game during regulation, despite the Bears peppering Baby Pens goalie Brad Thiessen with 33 shots. The win was Hershey’s 46th on the season.
Saturday night with Bruce Boudreau in attendence for a pregame book signing, the Hershey Bears pushed their incredible AHL Record home winning streak to 21 with a resounding 9-2 victory over the New York Islanders farm team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Hershey jumped out to a 5-1 first period lead on the heels of a first period hat trick by everyone’s favorite miniature-sized-center Mathieu Perreault.
Perreault ended the night with an incredible four goals, including one on a penalty shot in the second period. Other crazy stats accumulated during the night? Prepare yourself:
This past weekend was awesome. Why? Because it was chock full of Hockey at every hour of the day. Sure there was “Super Sunday” with the Russians destroying the Czechs, USA humbling the Green Snubbers from the North, and the Swedes shutting out the Fins in Olympic action. But there also was a double dip of AHL Hockey with the Hershey Bears playing both on Saturday and Sunday. Well since we here at RMNB can’t be everywhere – though Fedor certainly tried as he watched illegal Russian Video Streams of the Bears Games during breaks in the Olympics – we asked our Hershey Correspondent Kyle M to summarize the events of this weekend via pictures, words & yes, his own video. Video which includes reaction from players and Coach Mark French after Hershey set the AHL Record for Consecutive Home Victories. Awesome. If you hate reading like me, here’s all you need to know: HERSHEY RULZ!
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