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The Bears are headed home on the edge of history

Patrick Features Writer

The Hershey Bears fly home today with two chances to make it back-to-back championship seasons.

A 3-2 win against the Coachella Valley Firebirds last night in Game 5 of the Calder Cup Finals gave the Bears a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 ahead of them Monday night at the Giant Center (7 ET, AHLTV), where the teams split the first two games of the series. . If necessary, Game 7 will be on Wednesday, and in Hershey.

Down two games to one earlier in the week, the Bears took Games 4 and 5 at Acrisure Arena, where the Firebirds were 7-0 on the season.

Of the nine times in AHL history a team has won back-to-back Calder Cups, the Bears did it twice, in 1958-59 and 2009-10. It has been unusual in recent decades; only Hershey and Springfield (1990-91) have captured back-to-back titles in the past 45 years.

“On any given night, a certain line or a few players step up,” the Bears head coach Todd Nelson he told reporters after the 3-2 victory last night.

On Thursday, it was a row of Ethan Frank, Hendrix Lapierre again Joe Snively. In Game 5, it was all three Jimmy Huntington (two goals), Alex Limoges (two assistants) and Pierrick Dube (one help) enters. Trailing Hershey 1-0, Huntington scored 1.3 seconds into the first half. Then he answered again with 3:15 left in regulation, breaking a 2-2 tie and starting his spirited goal celebration.

“It’s…motivational,” said Huntington, a fifth-year conference finalist with Milwaukee in 2023. “I want to win for those guys. I came to Hershey to win a championship.”

Between Huntington’s two goals, Hardy Häman AktellThe score at 11:34 of the third period erased Coachella Valley’s second lead of the night. With three regular players in the Hershey blue line out, Häman Aktell has delivered four goals in the final.

After losing 6-2 in Game 3, Hunter Shepard won back-to-back games, made 24 saves and shut down multiple scoring opportunities from the Firebirds’ deadly Game 5 attack.

“He gave us a chance to win,” Nelson said of his Bastien Award-winning goalkeeper. “When we broke up, Shep was there to help us.”

Nelson said he spoke to the Limoges-Huntington-Dube line before the game and asked for more. All three players come to Hershey this season and are chasing their first Calder Cup title.

“They responded really well,” said Nelson. “The boys who haven’t won the title know where we are now.”

As was the case in last year’s finals, the Bears went up three games to two – this time they went home. Last year, they lost Game 6 before closing out the series. Huntington also brought up a recent history all too familiar to the Bears: their 3-0 lead against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals that evaporated before Hershey took Game 7 into overtime.

“I know they have all the other gear,” Nelson said of the Firebirds. “That’s what I expect in Game 6.”

Huntington said, “The work is not done. We will go alone.”

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