For the 4th time in five years the Hershey Bears are going to be in the AHL finals after a come from behind, 3-2, overtime victory versus the Manchester Monarchs. The Bears win the series, four games to two, and will defend their 2009 Calder Cup title against either the Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens farm team) or the Texas Stars (Dallas Stars farm team). Hamilton, after a 3-0 win in game five of their best of seven series in the Lone Star State on Saturday night, leads Texas three games to two with game six set for Copps Coliseum in Canada on Monday night. If the Bulldogs don’t close things out on 5/24, then they have another shot at home on Wednesday, May 26th.
It is not clear when game one of the AHL finals will begin, but complicating matters is the fact that the circus will be at the Giant Center from 5/26 to 5/31. Making things worse is that the Bulldogs rink is booked from 6/2 – 6/6 so if Hamilton does advance, then the AHL league office will have their work cut out for them in trying to schedule this series. By the way, this would be a Capitals-Canadiens rematch and it is quite possible that if Philadelphia knocks off the Habs then defenseman PK Subban will be back with Hamilton for the AHL Finals.
As for Saturday night’s big Bears win, well it required another late rally by the Chocolate and White. Hershey was outshot 24-13 through two periods and trailed 2-0 but they came out on fire in period three getting a goal from Alexandre Giroux at 7:37 and then a floater through traffic from Patrick McNeill at 14:09 to send this one to the extra session. The Bears fired 13 shots on Monarchs goalie Jonathan Bernier (28 saves) while Michal Neuvirth (32 saves) faced only eight in period three.
In overtime, Boyd Kane scored 7:06 in to run Hershey’s OT record to 7-1 in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs. It also brought out the famous John Walton line (Hershey play by play voice) of “Good morning, Good afternoon, and Good night Manchester!” I was able to catch the 3rd period and the overtime on radio since I could not make it to the game in person due to a family commitment. I highly recommend the Walton Bears broadcasts if you can’t view the contests live.
PROGRAMMING NOTE: For those who might have missed it, I joined Stephen Pepper and Russell Waxman of Japers Rink Radio (@JapersRinkRadio) on Saturday morning for a 15 minute segment on their weekly hour long show. The topics were Caps and Bears hockey. Here is a link to the show, which also features Ivan Carter of CSN’s Washington Post Live.