FINAL: Bears 3 at Marlies 2 (HER Wins Series 4-1)

The Hershey Bears entered Sunday with hopes of closing out the Eastern Conference Finals and advancing to the Calder Cup Finals.

Generating and capitalizing on second and third chance opportunities would be essential for the Bears, and Liam O’Brien opened the scoring in similar fashion. At 9:18, Dustin Gazley cut into the inside and found O’Brien storming towards the net. O’Brien scored on his own rebound to make it 1-0 Hershey.

The Bears entered the second period with a dominant sense of urgency and converted on two, quick offensive rushes. Only 1:09 into the middle stanza, Christian Djoos buried a shot from the slot on a 3-on-2 into the top left corner of the net. 1:04 later, Nathan Walker converted a one-timer off a cross-ice feed to make it 3-0.

At 8:05 of the second period, the Marlies answered to get on the board. William Nylander deflected a Connor Carrick shot from the point. The 3-1 score carried into the dressing room after 40 minutes.

In the third period, the Marlies pulled within one at 5:11. After Peters made an initial stop, the rebound pulled him out of position exposing an open net. Nikita Soshnikov banked the puck into the cage to make it a 3-2 game.

But when it came crunch time, the Chocolate and White successfully handled the adversity. Peters made key stops down the stretch to preserve a 3-2 lead and clinch the Eastern Conference Championship.

For the first time since 2010, the Hershey Bears are going to the Calder Cup Finals. They will take on the Lake Erie Monsters.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Knockout Punch… 5/29

The Hershey Bears remain one win away from advancing to the 2016 Calder Cup Finals despite a Game 4 setback on Friday in Toronto. In all four games played in the best-of-seven series between the Bears and Toronto Marlies, the team that has won the special teams battle won the overall game.

In Friday’s 5-0 Toronto win, the Marlies tallied three power play goals, running away with the contest in the third period. The Chocolate and White will seek a disciplined response coming up for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

One more win for the Bears provides the knockout punch to the AHL’s regular season champions.


Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL/OT: Marlies 2 at Bears 3 (HER Leads Series 2-0)

A strong push back by the Toronto Marlies was highly anticipated and received. But weathering the early storm needed to be crucial for the Chocolate and White.

The Marlies used their speed on the rush to create set plays in the offensive zone and began winning countless battles along the boards. As a result, Toronto, similar to Game 1, jumped out to a 1-0 lead. 6:33 in, Connor Brown scored his sixth of the postseason on a point-blank chance following a perfect pass from Josh Leivo.

Toronto’s shot on goal advantage opened to a lob-sided 11-1 margin. Luckily for Hershey, Chandler Stephenson tied the game on a tremendous individual effort. Stephenson carried the puck down the wing, used his speed and beat Garret Sparks short-side at 14:06.

The Bears won the special teams battle in last night’s game, and they added another power play goal tonight. With 12:05 left in the middle stanza, Jakub Vrana finished a loose puck in the low slot past Sparks. The power play strike gave Hershey their first lead of the night, only to see the Marlies answer before intermission.

With 2:18 left in the frame, Mark Arcobello batted the puck out of mid air past Peters to tie the contest at 2-2. For the second consecutive night, a tied hockey game will start the third period.

Scoring chances and close calls followed for both sides in the third period, but overtime was required to solve Game 2. With 10:51 left in overtime, Dustin Gazley sent a perfect backhand pass from the goal line to the tape of Carter Camper.

Camper buried his scoring chance to close out a 3-2 final and claim a 2-0 series lead. It’s the Bears’ first three-game win streak of the postseason, and Camper remains scorching hot in the postseason.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Play Your Game… 5/21

It was made evident in Game 1 of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals the difference between the Hershey Bears and Toronto Marlies.

Last night, the Marlies drew first blood midway through the first period on a quick transition following a neutral zone turnover. All night long, Toronto’s grade “A” scoring chances were generated off the transition, and were mostly once and done opportunities.

The Chocolate and White rallied off three unanswered goals, with the first two being even strength. For Carter Camper’s strike at 3:39 of the second period, and Liam O’Brien’s goal at the third period’s 2:51 mark, a common theme was established.

For the final 50 minutes of regulation, Hershey’s theme was possessing the puck in the offensive zone, using the boards to their advantage, and opening up holes in the Marlies’ defensive zone coverage. Continuous pressure on the forecheck led to Camper’s and O’Brien’s chances to come from the slot.

It was evident Toronto’s defense struggled in collapsing in their zone and protecting the slot area. This is an area where Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was proficient in the previous series.

Onto Game 2 tonight at GIANT Center, the Bears will look for a 2-0 series lead before heading north. In my opinion, the biggest key for Hershey is to play their game, and not Toronto’s. Take care of the puck in the neutral zone and prevent the Marlies from gaining chances on the transition.

The infamous “blue collar” mentality that Troy Mann has prided his team on since October was good enough to defeat the top team in the AHL. Stick to the same mentality and work ethic, and hope for the same result.

Puck drop is at 7 PM, air time is 6:20.


Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL: Marlies 1 at Bears 3 (HER Leads Series 1-0)

The puck dropped on the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals at GIANT Center between the Hershey Bears and Toronto Marlies. Toronto carried a 7-5 shot advantage and 1-0 lead into the dressing room after 20 minutes.

9:04 into the contest, the Marlies capitalized on quick offensive rush. Kasperi Kapanen fed William Nylander a crisp pass, who elevated a backhand shot past Justin Peters. Defending Toronto will be Hershey’s biggest challenge with the Marlies’ quick motion in the offensive zone by all five skaters.

Hershey started the second frame possessing and cycling the puck in the offensive zone, and were eventually rewarded. Only 3:39 into the period, Carter Camper remained on absolute fire. After Dustin Gazley wrapped around the net, he centered a pass from the wing to Camper positioned in the slot. Camper blasted a shot high-glove side past Antoine Bibeau to tie the game.

The Bears’ momentum carried into the third period, and it led to the eventual game-winning goal. Liam O’Brien scored from the low-slot 2:51 into the third period with bodies in front of the net. A strong point to the Bears’ offense all night long was getting bodies to the net and creating traffic.

The Chocolate and White won the special teams battle by cashing in on a third period power play. At 8:12, Zach Sill turned and fired a loose puck from the middle of the ice that beat Bibeau low.

For the first time in the Calder Cup Playoffs, the Bears take the opening game of a series and a 1-0 lead into Game 2.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Level Up… 5/20

For the first time since 2010, the Hershey Bears will play in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s the organization’s fifth conference final appearance since 2006, winning all the previous four appearances to advance to the Calder Cup Finals.

The opposition for the Chocolate and White will be the Toronto Marlies, who finished the regular season on top in the AHL. Toronto finished the season 54-16-5-1, good for 114 points and a .750 point percentage.

A factor contributing to both Hershey and Toronto’s regular season success is the high-voltage offense mixed with youth. The Bears saw contributions all season long from rookies Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, along with defensemen Tyler Lewington, Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos.

Boyd scoring the Game 7 series clinching goal against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins was an appropriate microcosm of the season.

The Toronto Marlies have been the beneficiary of a new, redevelopment attitude with the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise. Connor Carrick, Connor Brown and William Nylander have been the corner stone to the Leafs’ young prospects who saw time in the NHL this season. They are all with the Marlies bidding for a Calder Cup.

The Marlies are a team that will activate their defense and use them actively in the offensive zone. In addition to Carrick’s six goals and eight assists from the blue line in the Calder Cup Playoffs, he is accompanied by T.J. Brennan. Brennan tallied 25 goals during the regular season from the blue line, and has also scored five more goals in the playoffs.

We are in for a fun series full of youth, talent and future stars of the National Hockey League.

Game 1 is tonight at 7 PM at GIANT Center.


Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL/OT: Penguins 2 at Bears 3 (HER Wins Series 4-3)

Game 7.

The Hershey Bears hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in Game 7 of the Atlantic Division Finals. Winner moves on to face either the Toronto Marlies or the Albany Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Just 93 seconds into the hockey game, Dustin Gazley gave the Bears a 1-0 lead. Casey DeSmith was pulled out of position, and the puck bounced into an empty cage to open the scoring.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton answered on their first power play of the night. At 7:15, Matthias Plachta poked home a loose puck after Justin Peters could not find it in a goal mount scrum.

The Bears’ PK killed off its next two chances, sending a 1-1 game into first intermission.

In a second period dictated by the Penguins, forcing the Bears to their heels, the Chocolate and White countered and answered the bell. After a minute of offensive zone time, Carter Camper walked in alone on DeSmith and turned him inside-out on a gorgeous move. Camper’s roof job sent GIANT Center into a frenzy, and the Bears into the locker room up 2-1 after 40 minutes.

3:53 into the third period, the Penguins battled back even. Kael Mouillerat fired a shot off the post and tucked in the rebound to tie the hockey game. Game 7, between the top rivals of the American Hockey League required overtime.

With 9:03 left in the first overtime, Travis Boyd scored on a wraparound to end the series and advance the Hershey Bears to the Eastern Conference Finals. It was arguably the most tense moments in GIANT Center history, but in the end, it could not have been sweeter for the Chocolate and White.

Game 7’s. They tend to create strange patterns to our heart beat. The heart to Hershey’s 2016 Calder Cup run will continue to beat into the Eastern Conference Finals.

Tomorrow, the Toronto Marlies and Albany Devils will decide their series outcome tomorrow in Game 7. The winner of Marlies-Devils tomorrow will square off against the Bears in round three.

Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL: Bears 2 at Penguins 6 (Series Tied 3-3)

The Hershey Bears traveled up Interstate 81 for Game 6 of the Atlantic Division Finals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. With the Pens on the brink, Wilkes-Barre put a crooked number on the scoreboard in the first period.

The Pens would win the majority of loose pucks in all three zones, and it led directly to grade “A” scoring chances. Kael Mouillerat, Game 4’s hero for WBS, opened the scoring at 10:52. Mouillerat off an overlap sent a shot past Justin Peters to the short side to make it 1-0.

With 4:44 left in the opening frame, captain Tom Kostopoulos deflected in his fifth goal of the postseason. Only 3:06 later, a defensive zone turnover led to an odd-man rush for the Pens from in close. Carter Rowney finished the passing sequence at 18:22.

Wilkes-Barre capped off the period with a strike on their first power play of the night. Will O’Neill jammed home a loose puck on the door step to complete the first period scoring.

Into the second period, it appeared any nerves the Bears may have started the game with had cleared. Hershey began sustaining continuous pressure in the offensive zone generated off winning loose pucks and 50-50 battles.

At 12:51, Travis Boyd sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Tyler Lewington on the door step who got his club on the board. The Chocolate and White would see more scoring chances in the second period with opportunities to climb back into the hockey game. Chances included a 2-on-1 chance from Riley Barber and a breakaway shot from Nathan Walker.

Seconds after Casey DeSmith stopped Walker’s breakaway, the Pens countered and made it 5-1. With 4:21 left in the period, Jake Guentzel crashed the net and deflected a shot past Dan Ellis, in relieve of Peters. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton carried the 5-1 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes.

Third period, the Pens added a sixth goal at 3:30. Carter Rowney blasted a drive from the center-point to make it 6-1. Zach Sill deflected a Chris Bourque shot from the point on a Hershey power play with 3:31 remaining to round out the scoring.

Pens take Game 6, 6-2 and force Game 7 on Sunday at GIANT Center.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Pens on the brink – 5/13

The Hershey Bears are knocking on the door of eliminating their arch rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Two days later after a thrilling Game 5 victory at GIANT Center, the Chocolate and White will look to clinch the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2010.

On Wednesday, the Bears roared out to 3-0 advantage, only to see Wilkes-Barre rally to tie the hockey game in the third period. With the Penguins seemingly in control of momentum down the stretch, Zach Sill burned his former club with a shorthanded breakaway goal. Sill’s tally stood as the game-winner, as Ryan Bourque added an empty net tally to complete a 5-3 win, and grab a 3-2 series advantage.

Tonight, the Pens will look to extend their season to a decisive Game 7 on Sunday in Hershey. The last time we were in the Mohegan Sun Arena, Kael Mouillerat scored on the power play 2:31 into overtime to cap a 2-1 Penguins win. The tally tied the series at 2-2 and made tonight’s game necessary.

We’re hoping to see another great turnout of passionate Bears fans on the road to cheer on this team, hopefully to a series victory.

Pregame is 6:25 PM and puck drop is 7:05 PM. Time to push the Pens over the edge of elimination.


Submitted by Matt Trust

IN-GAME UPDATE: Penguins 2 at Bears 3 – END 2ND

The Chocolate and White came out flying in Game 5, looking for a response and a 3-2 series lead. At 5:45, Carter Camper opened the scoring for Hershey off a second chance opportunity.

Jakub Vrana used the end wall behind Tristan Jarry to create a chance from in close for Camper. On the rebound, Camper scored into an open cage to open the scoring. Special teams starred in Game 4 and was the deciding factor for the outcome.

On a 5-on-3 chance in the later stages of the first period, Hershey cashed in to double their lead. After winning a 50-50 battle, Zach Sill had an open lane along the wing during an odd-man rush. From beneath the goal line, he sent a perfect pass to Vrana who converted at 17:40.

At 9:05 of the middle period, the Bears opened their lead to 3-0 over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Sean Collins was credited for the goal on a double deflection off an Aaron Ness shot.

Collins’ goal ended Tristan Jarry’s night and brought in Casey DeSmith in hopes for a rally. The Pens countered and cracked Justin Peters with a tally by Tom Kostopoulos with 10:16 left in the frame. Kostopoulos tipped in a loose puck after an initial save was made by Peters on an offensive rush.

WBS would cut their deficit down to one with 5:22 left in the period thanks to a bit of puck luck. Josh Achribald was credited with his first goal of the playoffs after a centering feed banked off the helmet of defenseman Ryan Stanton and into the net.

Hershey’s one goal lead would carry into the dressing room after 40 minutes of pivotal Game 5 hockey.

Submitted by Matt Trust