Hockey News

New faces spark Bears’ latest Calder Cup |

Patrick Features Writer

Matt Strome he was with the Hershey Bears last season, a full-time starter who appeared in 34 regular season games and missed the Calder Cup Playoffs.

This year, he was a starter for the team’s first nine games, not making his season debut until Nov. 3. He was in and out of the postseason lineup. And last night, he was the hero of the Calder Cup.

Strome’s goal 1:06 into overtime gave the Bears a 5-4 victory and their second straight Calder Cup championship, the 13th in the team’s long and storied history.

“I went home [last] summer and I knew I wanted to be in this moment,” Strome said after hoisting the Calder Cup. “The season starts and I’m not playing so I’m working very hard.”

This is the fifth Calder Cup the Bears have won since joining the Washington Capitals in 2005, and they have been in the finals twice. In January the two sides extended their partnership through the 2029-30 season. They’re looking for players like Strome: hungry players, ready to accept a role — any role — and compete for the Calder Cup.

Pierrick Dube spent last season with Laval on an AHL contract. He caught the attention of the Washington administration, and signed a two-year contract with the organization last July. He went on to score 28 goals in the regular season and made his NHL debut with the Capitals. He missed three games in the conference finals after losing several teeth in a hit by the puck, but returned to the net in a Game 7 win over Cleveland. And last night, he was the first player since Jason Krog in 2008 for a hat trick in a Calder Cup victory.

“It’s hard to put into words right now,” said Dube.

Jimmy Huntington he was with the Milwaukee Admirals last season when they lost to Coachella Valley in the Western Conference finals. He signed with the Bears over the summer, and his two goals in Game 5 helped give Hershey a 3-2 series lead as they returned home ready to close it out. After maintaining a strong message of good behavior throughout the series, stressing that the job was far from done, the fifth-year champion finally rested last night.

“Now the work is done,” he said.

Alex Limoges arrived from Manitoba Moose hungry for the Calder Cup title. A native of northern Virginia – one of three locals on the Hershey’s list once Joe Snively again Garrett Roe he attended the final at the Giant Center last year. During this time, he was the workhorse of the Bears lineup, recording two assists each in Game 5 and Game 6 while skating with Huntington and Dube. Roe returned to North America after ten years in Europe, citing a desire to be closer to home after his mother, Julie, died last June. He missed all but Game 1 of the Finals with an injury, but it was his overtime goal in Game 7 against Cleveland that got the Bears into the Finals first.

Chase Priskie was first drafted by Washington in 2016, and traded to the Carolina, Florida, Buffalo and Anaheim organizations before returning to the Capitals organization last summer. Here are Hershey’s top three defenders – Aaron Ness, Lucas Johansen again Vincent Iorio – not available in the finals, Priskie built on an already strong season and helped anchor Hershey’s blue line against the Firebirds’ potent attack.

“You can play for 10 years and not get a chance to play in a tournament, play real hockey in June,” said Priskie. “When we got here at the beginning of the season, our goal was to win, there are no ifs and buts about it. They came to work every day, and we were preparing for that.”

Hardy Häman Aktell scored four goals on the Hershey blue line during the Finals. Another protector, Nick Leivermann, entered Game 4 of the Finals having not played an AHL game since November. For that matter, he hasn’t played anywhere since Hershey’s ECHL affiliate in South Carolina ended its season on April 13. But he stepped in quickly, adding the necessary mobility and the option to move the puck all the way.

Ivan Miroshnichenko was a first-round pick by the Capitals in 2022 who had a strong first season in North America. The 20-year-old forward, who skated in 21 games for Washington, had seven goals and five assists in 20 playoff contests.

And there were many who came back from Bhele. Hunter Shepardvoted the league’s best goaltender in 2023-24, he also stopped the Bears in net. Ethan FrankThe 10 playoff goals are tied for the AHL lead. Mike Vecchione, last year’s Game 7 overtime hero for the Bears, reinvigorated the club up front. Young people are ahead Henrik Rybinski again Bogdan Trineev he stepped up and took on bigger roles as the season progressed. Riley Sutter he returned from an extended injury and pitched a shutout for the head coach Todd Nelson. Captain Dylan McIlrath He held it all together and now has his third Calder Trophy. And after spending 51 games with the Capitals this season, Hendrix Lapierre returned to the Calder Cup Playoffs and ran with the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player after finishing with a league-leading 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists).

Each summer the Capitals and Bears work together to find the right fit, the perfect balance needed to both advance Hershey’s hopes and pursuit of a championship. Preparing for the playground is not enough. Bear vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer he works with the general manager of the Capitals Chris Patrick building an AHL roster. Helmer, who has won two back-to-back titles with the Bears — captaining the team in 2009 and 2010 — sees potential winners when he sees them.

“I believe they believe in each other,” Helmer said of his players. “Last year’s boys who were successful were talking to other boys who didn’t go through it, and then they pulled them. Everyone wanted to win. They believe in each other. They believed in themselves, and Todd Nelson found a way to get the best out of his players.”

Said Strome, “It was always the Bears, baby.” features writer Patrick Williams has covered the American Hockey League for nearly two decades at outlets including, Sportsnet, TSN, Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM ! Sports, and most recently was the host of The Hockey News On The ‘A’ podcast. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the league’s top scorer in 2016.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button