Hello, Capitals fans. As you mourn, you may wish for a hockey fix to fill that hole in your heart. If the NHL’s playoffs can’t do justice for you because you begin to weep every time you hear Pierre McGuire’s voice (oh, that’s a normal symptom when he talks?), I have just the hockey fix for you.
The Hershey Bears.
Let me give you an introduction to the organization and this year’s team.
The Bears have been around for 78 seasons in the American Hockey League, winning 11 Calder Cups in 22 Finals appearances. This postseason is the team’s 66th all-time playoff appearance. Gordie Howe once said, “Everybody who is anybody in hockey has played in Hershey.”
Twelve players on this past season’s Capitals team spent some time in Hershey during their career. Jay Beagle, Andre Burakovsky, Stan Galiev, Marcus Johansson, Michael Latta, Tom Wilson, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, Philipp Grubauer, and Braden Holtby are all former Bears. Beagle, Alzner, Carlson, and Holtby all won a Calder Cup with the Chocolate and White in 2009 and 2010.
Up front, you have the AHL MVP in Chris Bourque alongside veteran Carter Camper and captain Garrett Mitchell. Capitals call-ups Zach Sill and Sean Collins are one of the Bears’ best lines right now, paired up with Chris Bourque’s brother, Ryan, who was acquired in a trade for Chris Brown this season. Rookies Riley Barber, Travis Boyd, and Jakub Vrana were tearing it up in the regular season, with a combined 142 points in 186 games.
On defense, Hershey has been running three strong pairings right now: Madison Bowey and Ryan Stanton, Christian Djoos and Erik Burgdoerfer, and Tyler Lewington and Aaron Ness, with Ness and Lewington being Hershey’s top pairing in the playoffs.
After Dan Ellis carried Hershey to a division title in the regular season, Justin Peters has been Braden Holtby-esque in the playoffs. Boasting a 1.78 GAA and a 0.935 SV% in 11 games, and a 7-4 record, Pete-Dawg is one of the main reasons the Bears are in the position they are right now.
Sunday night, one of the most intense series in Hershey Bears history came to a conclusion as the Bears defeated their arch-rival, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh’s affiliate) in game seven with a goal from Travis Boyd in overtime.
That’s what hockey is all about.
Words cannot describe how ridiculous this goal was. Just go watch it.
Basically yes. He really loves this team.
— RMNB (@russianmachine) May 17, 2016
The win sends Hershey to the conference finals, where they will face the Toronto Marlies, who beat the Albany Devils, New Jersey’s affiliate, on Monday night in a Game Seven of their own. It’s the Bears and Connor Carrick in a Calder Cup CAGE MATCH.
Dab on ’em, Jakub
I made a whole set of emojis for each Bears player. We had Jakub Vrana and Jonas Siegenthaler play FIFA 16. Scott Gomez played for the Hershey Bears for a good part of this season. Travis Boyd and Riley Barber had their first pro hat tricks in games this season. Vrana dabbed after scoring a beautiful goal. Hershey was named the second best hockey town in America. Kevin Hart hung out in Giant Center and took a photo with a Bears sign. Liam O’Brien, Nathan Walker, and Chandler Stephenson made gingerbread zambonis. Riley Barber and Nathan Walker were born on the exact same day, but took much different paths to Hershey before playing on the same line together.
Hershey plays Game One and Two of the Eastern Conference Finals this Friday and Saturday night at Giant Center. It’s a great road trip to make if you’ve never been to Chocolate Town. Hershey’s free Chocolate World attraction has just been renovated and is now open, too! Go watch some cows sing about chocolate to you!
My blog Chocolate Hockey will have all the coverage you need for the rest of the Bears run for the cup. Each game is live tweeted on our twitter account, @ChocHockey, and I personally tweet lots of Bears banter on my personal account, @Kyle_Mace. And I guess follow RMNB too.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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