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

Game Five on Tap – 5/11

Greetings from the GC!

With limited time today, we take you to this link of tonight’s game notes.  Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has a pretty decent road record in game fives, but the Bears also have a good one coming off of a loss.

Let’s do this, and push their backs to the edge!



Offense Found – 5/9

Greetings from Mohegan Sun Arena!

Your Hershey Bears found a way to grab a win in this building in the postseason.  It took a long time – nine years and two calendar days, to be precise – but the Bears won.  And they also won for the second consecutive night to take a two-games-to-one series lead in the Atlantic Division Finals.

Contribution from all forward lines was a big help during the regular season.  Here in the postseason, it really helps.  Rarely does a team lose a game when all four lines tally a point, and that is what happened on Saturday.  Chris Bourque (line 1) scored twice.  Jakub Vrana (line 2) tallied what ended up to be the game-winning goal.  Chandler Stephenson (line 3) assisted on three goals for Hershey’s first three-point effort of the season.  And Ryan Bourque (line 4) set up Dustin Gazley’s key first-period goal that cooled off a hot start for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Another neat stat was that a part of all three defensive pairs also contributed at least one assist (Bowey, Ness, Djoos).

That’s what I would call a total team effort, adding in the continued strong play of goaltender Justin Peters.

Tonight is a huge game, however.  The Penguins will bring their first-period effort times 1,000, not wanting to drop both home games in the middle of this series.  They want a game six.  For Hershey, a big weight would be lifted with a victory that would send this series back to Chocolatetown for Wednesday’s game five…more on that later.

Air time is at 6:25 tonight, and the puck drops at 7:05.  Matt Trust joins me for the call once again… I hope you can tune in.  Follow this link for the broadcast information and all of tonight’s game notes.

Talk to you soon Bears Nation!



FINAL: Penguins 0 at Bears 2 (Series Tied 1-1)

A large bounce back was needed for the Chocolate and White to even the series at a game a piece against the Penguins. The Bears were attacking with their speed early and finally broke through Casey DeSmith.

Dustin Gazley was poised to return to the lineup, and he was a solid contribution on the ice from the get-go. Gazley turned on his jets entering the offensive zone shorthanded and set up Sean Collins. Going forehand-backhand, Collins scored into an empty net to open the scoring at 12:43. It was the third shorthanded goal yielded by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the young postseason.

The Bears doubled their lead in similar fashion by using its speed on the entries. Jakub Vrana entered the zone, circled the net and traded with Madison Bowey. Vrana then found Carter Camper on a bad angle, but he beat DeSmith to the short side.

All Hershey in the opening 20 minutes with a 10-5 shot advantage and 2-0 lead into the dressing room.

The Bears whiff on a 5-on-3 chance for 1:55, but the defensive game remained strong. Wilkes-Barre continued to get pressed out of grade “A” opportunities from in close. The 2-0 lead would carry into the locker room after 40 minutes.

Justin Peters would shut the door in the third period to complete the 27 save clean sheet, and his second shutout of the season.

Casey DeSmith opened the series with a shutout, and Peters returned the favor to knot the series.

We switch to Mohegan Sun Arena for Games 3 and 4 beginning tomorrow at 7:05 PM. Time to invade the casino and fill it with Chocolate and White.

Submitted by Matt Trust

Short Term Memory – 5/6

It is a position the Hershey Bears have already found themselves in this postseason: Losing the first game of a series. In the short best-of-five against the Portland Pirates, the Bears responded in Game 2 to even the series before winning in five.

The Chocolate and White enter Friday’s Game 2 against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins looking for similar fate. A win tonight for the Bears guarantees another home game on Wednesday at GIANT Center. A loss would put Hershey down 2-0 in a best-of-seven with two games on the road following.

Justin Peters will rematch Casey DeSmith in goal. Better starts will have to be a key for the Bears tonight. Wednesday, the Penguins scored on the first shot of the first and second periods to mount their 2-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Air time is 6:20, puck drop is 7 PM.

Time to take care of business and even the series.

Submitted by Matt Trust

FINAL: Penguins 4 at Bears 0

It’s round two at GIANT Center to claim a champion of the Atlantic Division. The Hershey Bears hosted the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the opening game of the best-of-seven series at GIANT Center.

A long layoff for the Penguins worked to their benefit, as they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead only 45 seconds in. Daniel Sprong used his speed to split two Hershey defenders and fire off a chance all alone with Justin Peters. Sprong beat Peters high-glove side for the only tally of the period.

The Bears settled in defensively shortly after and continued their flawless shot blocking from the opening round. Peters stopped a key penalty shot in the final minute on Jake Guentzel to hold the deficit to one goal.

Wilkes-Barre doubled their lead in the middle stanza similar in fashion to the first period. In the first, the Penguins scored on their first shot. Fast forward to the second period, Carter Rowney scored 14 seconds into the period on the Pens’ first shot.

Hershey, again, settled in defensively following the goal and began firing away on Casey DeSmith. Jakub Vrana nearly capitalized on a timing play following a cross ice feed on a rush, and Christian Djoos was stone-walled on the door step in the later stages. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton leads in shots 27-18 after 40 minutes and have also been winning the majority of face-offs.

Into the third, Wilkes-Barre shut the door on the power play. Sprong scored his second of the game and fifth of the postseason at 7:04 to break the game open. With 2:53 left, captain Tom Kostopoulos added a shorthanded empty net goal to round out a 4-0 final.

Game 2 of the series is on Friday at GIANT Center. No reason to panic, as the Bears lost the first game of a shorter, best-of-five series in Portland. It’s a longer series against the Penguins, but there is no time at all to dwell after this Game 1 setback.

Submitted by Matt Trust