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 Hershey Bears

Bears Prepare to Open Calder Cup Finals

June 13, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Hershey Bears News Release

(Hershey, PA) - The Hershey Bears open the 2024 Calder Cup Finals this weekend when they face the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the best-of-seven series for the second consecutive season. Hershey is making its league-leading 25th appearance in the American Hockey League's championship round, as it seeks to defend its 2023 Calder Cup title and add to its overall league-leading 12 championships.


Goals: Ethen Frank (9)

Assists: Hendrix Lapierre (11)

Points: Hendrix Lapierre (15)

Power-Play Goals: Ethen Frank (4)

Shorthanded Goals: Jimmy Huntington (1)

Plus/Minus: Chase Priskie (+8)

Wins: Hunter Shepard (10)

GAA: Hunter Shepard (2.16)

SV%: Hunter Shepard (.920)

Only includes qualified players


Friday, June 14

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

Saturday, June 15

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

Sunday, June 16

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


- Thursday, May 30 - Hershey 5 vs. Cleveland 4 (OT)

- Saturday, June 1 - Hershey 3 vs. Cleveland 2 (OT)

- Tuesday, June 4 - Hershey 6 at Cleveland 2

- Thursday, June 6 - Hershey 2 at Cleveland 3

- Saturday, June 8 - Hershey 1 at Cleveland 5

- Monday, June 10 - Hershey 2 vs. Cleveland 3 (OT)

- Wednesday, June 12 - Hershey 3 vs. Cleveland 2 (OT)


Game 1 - Friday, June 14 - Hershey vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

Game 2 - Sunday, June 16 - Hershey vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds, 5 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

Game 3 - Tuesday, June 18 - Hershey at Coachella Valley Firebirds, 10 p.m.

Game 4 - Thursday, June 20 - Hershey at Coachella Valley Firebirds, 10 p.m.

*Game 5 - Saturday, June 22 - Hershey at Coachella Valley Firebirds, 9 p.m.

*Game 6 - Monday, June 24 - Hershey vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

*Game 7 - Wednesday, June 26 - Hershey vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

*if necessary

Television Coverage: FOX43 (Games 3-4, locally), FOX43.2 Antenna TV (Games 1-2, 5-7, locally), Monumental Sports Network (Washington, D.C. market), NHL Network (Games 1-2, 4-5, 7); Video Coverage: AHLTV ; Radio Coverage: Bears Radio Network, Capitals Radio Network

All times Eastern



The Bears completed arguably their best regular season in franchise history after posting a club-record .771 points percentage (53-14-0-5) in 72 games during the 2023-24 campaign, claiming the MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy with the top record in the regular season. After earning a first-round bye, the Bears defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in four games, and followed that up with a 3-0 sweep of the Hartford Wolf Pack in the Atlantic Division Finals. Hershey built a 3-0 series lead against the Cleveland Monsters in the Eastern Conference Finals, only to see Cleveland recover with three straight wins to force a Game 7, which was won by Hershey by a 3-2 score to clinch the Richard F. Canning Trophy for the second consecutive spring. The Firebirds followed up a successful inaugural season with a 103-point finish for their first regular-season Pacific Division and Western Conference titles, knocking out Calgary (3-1), Ontario (3-0), and Milwaukee (4-1) to claim the Robert W. Clarke Trophy once again.


Hershey's overtime victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday was the seventh Game 7 decided in sudden death in franchise history; the Bears improved to 4-3 in Game 7s decided in overtime. Hershey's overall Game 7 record improved to 11-9.


Hershey and Coachella Valley will square off in the Calder Cup Finals for the second straight year, joining the Maine Mariners and New Haven Nighthawks (1978-79), Rochester Americans and Maine Mariners (1983-84), and Springfield Indians and Rochester Americans (1990-91).


Hershey will look to defend its 2023 Calder Cup title (its league-leading 12th championship) and become the 10th team in the history of the AHL to repeat as Calder Cup champions, joining the Buffalo Bisons (1943-44), Cleveland Barons (1953-54), Hershey Bears (1958-59; 2009-10), Springfield Indians (1960-61-62; 1990-91), Rochester Americans (1965-66), Nova Scotia Voyageurs (1976-77), and Maine Mariners (1978-79).


The Bears are making their league-record 25th appearance in the Calder Cup Finals. Hershey's previous results in the Calder Cup Finals are as follows:

1941 vs. Cleveland Barons - L, 3-1

1942 vs. Indianapolis Capitals - L, 3-2

1945 vs. Cleveland Barons - L, 4-2

1947 vs. Pittsburgh Hornets - W, 4-3

1949 vs. Providence Reds - L, 4-3

1954 vs. Cleveland Barons - L, 4-2

1958 vs. Springfield Indians - W, 4-2

1959 vs. Buffalo Bisons - W, 4-2

1961 vs. Springfield Indians - L, 4-0

1963 vs. Buffalo Bisons - L, 4-3

1965 vs. Rochester Americans - L, 4-1

1969 vs. Quebec Aces - W, 4-1

1974 vs. Providence Reds - W, 4-1

1976 vs. Nova Scotia Voyageurs - L, 4-1

1980 vs. New Brunswick Hawks - W, 4-2

1986 vs. Adirondack Red Wings - L, 4-2

1988 vs. Fredericton Express - W, 4-0

1997 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs - W, 4-1

2006 vs. Milwaukee Admirals - W, 4-2

2007 vs. Hamilton Bulldogs - L, 4-1

2009 vs. Manitoba Moose - W, 4-2

2010 vs. Texas Stars - W, 4-2

2016 vs. Lake Erie Monsters - L, 4-0

2023 vs. Coachella Valley Firebirds - W, 4-3

Finals series record: 12-12

Finals win-loss record: 67-67

Goals scored in Calder Cup Finals: 406

Goals allowed in Calder Cup Finals: 409


Bears head coach Todd Nelson capped a historic 2023-24 regular season by winning the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the American Hockey League's outstanding coach for the first time in his career. Currently eighth in league history with 406 regular-season wins, Nelson also owns an AHL postseason coaching record of 66-41, going 20-20 with Oklahoma City, 22-11 in Grand Rapids, and 24-10 in his tenure with the Bears; his 66 playoff victories rank fourth in league history, trailing John Paddock (77), Frederick "Bun" Cook (75), and John Anderson (68), while his 24 playoff wins with Hershey are tied with Chuck Hamilton for fourth in team history, behind only Frank Mathers (60), John Paddock (30), and Bruce Boudreau (29). Nelson has two Calder Cup championships as a head coach, winning with Grand Rapids in 2017 and Hershey in 2023. Coachella Valley head coach Dan Bylsma is in his second and final season at the helm of the Firebirds; on May 28 Bylsma was named the second head coach of Coachella's parent club, the Seattle Kraken. Bylsma won the Stanley Cup in 2009 as the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins and earned the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach for the 2010-11 season. He also served as the head coach of the United States Men's National Team at the 2014 Winter Olympics.


The 2024 Calder Cup Finals will represent the fourth time that Bears head coach Todd Nelson and Firebirds head coach Dan Bylsma will face each other in their hockey careers for the Calder Cup. The two first faced each other as players in the 1994 Calder Cup Finals, when Nelson's Portland Pirates claimed the championship over Bylsma's Moncton Hawks in six games. In 2008, the two were assistant coaches for their respective clubs, as Nelson's Chicago Wolves triumphed over Bylsma's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in six games. In 2023, as head coaches, Nelson's Bears made history against the expansion Firebirds helmed by Bylsma, claiming the first-ever Game 7 decided in sudden-death overtime in the championship round.


Hendrix Lapierre is tied for first in league playoff scoring with Milwaukee's Zach L'Heureux with 15 points (4g, 11a), and leads all playoff performers in assists (11), power-play assists (7), and power-play points (8). The sophomore pro was held to one goal in last year's Calder Cup Finals against Coachella Valley, but it was the crucial game-tying score in Game 7 that forced overtime before Mike Vecchione's sudden-death tally clinched Hershey's 12th championship.


Coachella Valley defender Connor Carrick returns to his old stomping grounds, as the former 2012 Washington Capitals draft pick spent part of his first three seasons in pro hockey in Chocolatetown, U.S.A. The Orland Park, Illinois native played in 133 regular-season games for Hershey from 2013-16, recording 72 points (18g, 54a).


Bears defender Aaron Ness (out since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals with injury) will be making his third appearance with Hershey in the Calder Cup Finals. Hershey's alternate captain was part of the squad that fell to the Lake Erie Monsters in 2016 before winning his first Calder Cup ring last season against Coachella Valley. The veteran of 800 combined regular-season games in the AHL and NHL has earned a sweater in 62 playoff games for Hershey, which is tied with Roger De Jordy for eighth in franchise history.


Chase Priskie leads all league defensemen in playoff scoring with 12 points (2g, 10a)...Hershey is 7-1 when scoring first, while Coachella Valley is 7-0... Hershey is a lifetime 11-13 in Game 1 of the Calder Cup Finals, and holds an 8-3 series record in years in which it has won the opening match...In the 85 times the Calder Cup has been contested, the winning team of Game 1 has gone on to win the Cup 63 times (74.1%). In both of their last championships, the Bears fell behind 2-0 in the series before ultimately turning things around...Bears vice president of hockey operations Bryan Helmer is in his fifth finals with Hershey, captaining the team in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, serving as an assistant coach in 2016, and in his current role last season...Coachella Valley leads the league with 3.58 goals scored per game, while Hershey is third with 3.43...Both teams are an identical 9-0 when leading after two periods.

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