Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The North American hockey season concluded last night when the Hershey Bears completed a decisive comeback in the AHL Calder Cup Finals with a 4-0 blanking of the Texas Stars.
In an unusual final series, the Stars won Games 1 and 2 in Hershey, 2-1 and then a 4-3 thriller when Travis Morin scored the game winner with just 46 seconds remaining.
Hershey turned the tables on the first year Stars back in Austin, Texas with a three game sweep, taking Game 3 by a decisive 6-3 score followed by a 4-2 win in Game 4 after trailing 2-1 halfway through the second period before scoring at 13:45 of the second to tie the game and then going ahead on a power play goal with just over two minutes remaining. The Bears added an empty net goal with 27 seconds left to clinch the victory and even the series at two games apiece.
Game 5 in Texas saw the Stars on the board first at 8:03 of the first period on the power play. It would be the final goal Texas would score this season, as the Bears and goaltender Michal Neuvirth would put the clamps on the Stars offense for the remainder of the series. Francois Bouchard evened the score at 11:12 of the second period and Alexandre Giroux put the Bears on the brink of the championship with his overtime goal at 13:28 of overtime. It was the Bears record setting eight overtime win of the 2010 postseason.
The Bears now looked to be sitting good, with the rest of the finals scheduled for back in Pennsylvania on home ice.
The Bears, the number one seed in the East who had a league leading 123 regular season points from a 60-17-0-3 record, took care of business in front of a franchise record 11,002 fans, the sixth consecutive standing room only crowd of the series.
John Carlson opened the scoring at 12:29 of the first period on the power play before Karl Alzner added a second 1:54 later as Hershey let their intentions to clinch the title be know by outshooting Texas 17-4 in the opening period.
Patrick McNeill extended the Bears lead to three midway through the second period and then got the party started with a power play goal with five minutes remaining in the game. All four Bears goals came from defensemen and Neuvirth made 22 saves for the shutout.
Chris Bourque was named the recipient of the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP as a result of his league-leading 27 points from seven goals and 20 assists in 21 games. This was Bourque's fifth season in Hershey, fourth finals appearance and third championship.
Hershey became the first team to repeat as champions since the Springfield Indians back in 1991. The title was their third in the last five years and 11th in franchise history, dating back to their entry into the league in 1938, six years after their founding in 1932.
The Bears have now won Calder Cup championships in 1947, 1958 and 1959, 1969, 1974, 1980, 1988 and 1997 before adding titles in 2006 and now back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. This season also saw the club set a record with 12 consecutive wins and a league record with 24 straight wins at home. Keith Aucoin, who led the league with 71 assists, and Giroux, whose 50 goals were 13 more than anyone else, finished 1-2 in the AHL scoring race, with Aucion's 106 edging out Giroux's 103 as the pair easily distanced third place with 85 points.
Over the course of their history the Bears have retired four numbers for seven players, with #3 being retired for Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Mathers and Ralph Keller, #8 for Mike Nykoluk, #9 for both Arnie Kullman and Tim Tookey as well as #16 for Willie Marshall and Mitch Lamoureux.
Today's featured jersey is a 2009-20 Hersey Bears Chris Bourque jersey as worn during this year's Calder Cup Finals as shown by the 2010 Calder Cup Finals patch on the right chest.
Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, has played five seasons for Hershey, as well as 33 games in the NHL with Bears parent club, the Washington Capitals (13) as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins (20). Unlike his defenseman father, Chris plays left wing and scored his first NHL goal on December 30, 2008 against the Buffalo Sabres.
Our video highlights feature highlights of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals between the Hershey Bears and the Texas Stars.