Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Congratulations to the Hershey Bears - the 2010 Calder Cup Champions!

Hockey fans in Hershey, Pennsylvania witnessed history last night, as the American Hockey League's Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup for the 11th time in franchise history. With their 4-0 win in Game 6, which finished off the Texas Stars 4-2 in the best of seven series, the Bears captured their second consecutive AHL Championship. The AHL affiliate of the Washington Capitals, the Bears have made four trips to the Calder Cup Final in the past five years, winning on three occasions.

After a record setting regular season, in which the Bears established a league record with 60 wins, a 12 game winning streak, and 24 consecutive home wins, Hershey was ready to defend their title in the 2010 playoffs. The Bears defeated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4-1), the Albany River Rats (4-0), and the Manchester Monarchs (4-2) to capture the Eastern Conference title and set up their showdown with the equally impressive Texas Stars. With a great mix of AHL veterans and prospects from the Washington Capitals, the Bears set a playoff record with 8 overtime victories in the 2010 playoffs.

Led by 24-year-old forward Chris Bourque (7 goals and 20 assists), the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner as playoff MVP, Hershey’s offence was also powered by Alexandre Giroux (14 goals, 13 assists). Giroux scored 103 points in the regular season (50 goals, 53 assists), and finished the season three points behind teammate Keith Aucoin (35 goals, 71 assists) for the league scoring title. In the playoffs, Giroux and Andrew Gordon provided timely goal scoring, picking up six goals each on the power play.

The win also provided a tremendous ending for John Carlson’s season. The young defenceman and first round draft pick of the Washington Capitals (27th overall in 2008), won Gold at the World Junior Championship with Team USA in January, was an AHL All-Star, emerged as a legitimate NHL defenceman in the Capitals first round playoff exit to Montreal and capped off a whirlwind season with a Calder Cup Championship.

Of course, any Hershey Bears article here at TVOS would not be complete without mentioning TVOS supporter, friend, and Hershey Bears captain Bryan Helmer. For the 38-year-old Helmer, a veteran of almost 1,000 AHL games, the win is his third Calder Cup victory (1997 Albany, 2009 Hershey, 2010 Hershey), and it is tremendous to see a man that loves the game so much, rewarded for all of his hard work and dedication to the sport. It was only fitting that as the clock struck zero, the puck was on Helmer’s stick, and the celebrations began. Watching the highlights of Bryan at center-ice, receiving the Calder Cup from AHL Commissioner David Andrews, and celebrating with his teammates on home ice in front of 11,000 of the greatest fans in the AHL is a special sight.

Congratulations to General Manager Doug Yingst, Head Coach Mark French, and everyone in the Hershey Bears organization for winning the 2010 Calder Cup!

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