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 Hershey Bears

Bears and Monsters Square off in Eastern Conference Finals

May 28, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Hershey Bears News Release

(Hershey, PA) - The Hershey Bears open up the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals this week against the Cleveland Monsters. Hershey is back in the Eastern Conference Finals of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season, and will look to claim its second consecutive Richard F. Canning Trophy with a series win. Of the 71 years that the Bears have qualified for the American Hockey League's postseason, this is the 43rd time Hershey has reached the league's Final Four.


Goals: Ethen Frank, Ivan Miroshnichenko (5)

Assists: Chase Priskie, Joe Snively (6)

Points: Hendrix Lapierre (8)

Power-Play Goals: Ethen Frank, Alex Limoges (2)

Shorthanded Goals: Jimmy Huntington (1)

Plus/Minus: Chase Priskie (+9)

Wins: Hunter Shepard (6)

GAA: Hunter Shepard (1.58)

SV%: Hunter Shepard (.936)

Only includes qualified players


Monday, May 27

Day Off

Tuesday, May 28

Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Wednesday, May 29

Practice, 10:30 a.m. at Hersheypark Arena

Thursday, May 30

Morning Skate, 10:15 a.m. at GIANT Center

All practices are open to the public. Practice dates and times are subject to change; please check daily for updates.


- Thursday, May 16 - Hershey 6 vs. Hartford 1

- Saturday, May 18 - Hershey 4 vs. Hartford 2

- Wednesday, May 22 - Hershey 4 vs. Hartford 1


Game 1 - Thursday, May 30 - Hershey Bears vs. Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

All fans will receive an Eastern Conference Finals rally towel, courtesy of York Financial Community of Pennsylvania, Kint Corp., Penn State Health, Planet Fitness, Cleveland Brothers, Harrisburg University, Pepsi, and Accord Restoration.

Game 2 - Saturday, June 1 - Hershey Bears vs. Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

All fans will receive an Eastern Conference Finals rally towel, courtesy of York Financial Community of Pennsylvania, Kint Corp., Penn State Health, Planet Fitness, Cleveland Brothers, Harrisburg University, Pepsi, and Accord Restoration.

Game 3 - Tuesday, June 4 - Hershey at Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m.

Game 4 - Thursday, June 6 - Hershey at Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m.

*Game 5 - Saturday, June 8 - Hershey at Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m.

*Game 6 - Monday, June 10 - Hershey vs. Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

*Game 7 - Wednesday, June 12 - Hershey vs. Cleveland Monsters, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

*if necessary

Television Coverage: FOX43.2 Antenna TV (locally), Monumental Sports Network (Washington, D.C. market); Video Coverage: AHLTV ; Radio Coverage: Bears Radio Network , Capitals Radio Network

All times Eastern


2016 REDUX:

The Bears will face the Monsters in the Calder Cup Playoffs for only the second time in team history, after the two clubs previously squared off in the 2016 Calder Cup Finals, a 4-0 series win for the Monsters, who were playing in their final season under the Lake Erie moniker. Current Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer was an assistant coach on Troy Mann's staff, while current Bears defender and alternate captain Aaron Ness was in his first season with the Chocolate and White and led all playoff performers with 12 assists. Current Monsters head coach Trent Vogelhuber scored the game-winner for Lake Erie in Game 1, while current Seattle Kraken forward Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the game-winning tallies in Games 2-4, the latter two of which were settled in overtime.


While the Monsters have only existed since the dormant Utah Grizzlies franchise was purchased in 2006 and relocated to the Buckeye State starting with the 2007-08 season, the Forest City has a long and storied history of American Hockey League excellence, as the original Cleveland Barons and Bears met numerous times from 1938 until January of 1973, when the Barons were relocated to Jacksonville. A second AHL incarnation of the Barons was present from 2001-06 when the San Jose Sharks relocated the Kentucky Thoroughblades to Ohio. In total, the Bears have battled an AHL club from Cleveland in the Calder Cup Playoffs 13 times prior to this year, owning a cumulative 5-8 series record; all five of Hershey's series wins against a Cleveland-based team came in the semifinal round. Current Bears assistant coach Nick Bootland played for the second incarnation of the Barons from 2001-05, and head coach Todd Nelson played for the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the defunct International Hockey League in the 1992-93 season.


Hershey finished their second regular season under Todd Nelson with a 53-14-0-5 record, good for first place in the league, while setting the AHL record for the most wins under a 72-game schedule and establishing a new franchise record for points percentage at .771. The Bears took down the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1 in the Atlantic Division Finals, before sweeping the Hartford Wolf Pack 3-0 in the Atlantic Division Finals. In that series Hershey outscored its opponent 14-4, matching the franchise record for the most goals scored in a playoff series decided in three games, and setting a new club mark for fewest goals allowed in a playoff series of the same length. The Monsters, under second-year head coach Trent Vogelhuber, captured the North Division crown with a 40-24-5-3 record for 88 points, finishing the season tied with Rochester but owning the secondary tiebreaker for 36 regulation and overtime wins compared to Rochester's 35. After earning a first-round bye, the Monsters faced the Belleville Senators in the North Division Semifinals, where they dropped the opening match and then won three straight games to advance to the North Division Finals, where they swept the Syracuse Crunch.


Hershey was a perfect 4-0-0-0 in the regular season against the North Division champions, and outscored Cleveland by an aggregate of 22-5. Ethen Frank led the way for the Bears with 11 points (4g, 7a) in four games, while Pierrick Dubé tied with Frank for the team lead in goals. Clay Stevenson received the lion's share of work against the Monsters, going 3-0-0 while allowing only five goals for a 1.67 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage, while Hunter Shepard went a perfect 20-for-20 in Hershey's final victory of the season series on March 23, a 5-0 victory. Hershey's roster boasts 553 games of Calder Cup Playoffs experience, while Cleveland's playoff roster has 235 games of experience in the AHL postseason.


After claiming the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach during the regular season, Todd Nelson has continued to add to his legacy in the Calder Cup Playoffs. He has moved into sole possession of fourth place in AHL history with 62 wins, passing legendary Bears player, coach, and executive Frank Mathers at 60, and his 20 playoff wins with the Bears now ranks eighth in team history; four more victories for a series win against Cleveland will move him into a tie with Chuck Hamilton (24) for fourth in team history. Monsters head coach Trent Vogelhuber is in his second season at the helm of Cleveland after spending the previous four years in the organization as an assistant coach under the administrations of John Madden and Mike Eaves, and has guided the Monsters to their first appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs since his first season as an assistant in 2018-19.


Hendrix Lapierre is tied for seventh in AHL playoff scoring with eight points (3g, 5a), and is tied for the league lead in power-play assists with four...Ethen Frank is tied for first with four game-winning goals...Garrett Roe led Hershey in the Atlantic Division Finals with five points (3g, 2a) and his playoff shooting percentage of 50% (3-for-6) leads all active skaters...Hunter Shepard is tied for the league lead with six playoff wins...Chase Priskie is tied for the league lead in scoring among defensemen with seven points (1g, 6a)... The Bears announced earlier today that forward Zac Funk has been released from his amateur tryout agreement...Ivan Miroshnichenko (5g, 1a) and Chase Priskie (1g, 4a) are enjoying four-game point streaks...Aaron Ness is Hershey's active leader for career playoff games with 59, and he is one game away from tying Larry Zeidel (60 GP) for 10th in franchise history. Ness' 16 career playoff assists are tied for eighth in franchise history among defensemen with Rich Brennan, Mike Gaul, and Steve Smith... Hershey is the only team among the remaining four to have not played an overtime game in the 2024 postseason... The Bears are tied for first in goals scored per game (3.71) and are first overall in goals against per game (1.57)...Hershey's penalty kill has gone 12-for-12 on home ice.

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