The South Carolina Stingrays, ECHL affiliate of the Hershey Bears and Washington Capitals, are moving on to the Kelly Cup Finals after eliminating the Manchester Monarchs in a decisive Game 7 Wednesday night. The Stingrays will play the Colorado Eagles for the ECHL championship.

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As members of the Hershey Bears packed their equipment before heading home for the summer, five players prepared for free agency for the first time in their careers.

Travis Boyd, Nathan Walker, Liam O’Brien, Chandler Stephenson, and Christian Djoos are all set to become restricted free agents this summer. While typically restricted free agents are locks to be re-signed, due to the current standing of the Washington Capitals organization, no qualifying offer is promised this offseason.

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It was evident Pheonix Copley was in a world of pain when he went down in game four of the Atlantic Division finals. What was not known at the time of the injury was how painful it was for him.

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You would never be able to guess Paul Carey has only played twelve playoff games in his professional career. The 28-year-old has had a successful career in both the AHL and NHL, including a career season with Hershey this year, but a recall to Washington as an extra body late in the year found him sitting a lot to finish off the year.

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Kelly Zajac, seen here with Hershey prior to a game in 2017, had the third goal for South Carolina Saturday night.


The South Carolina Stingrays, the ECHL affiliate of the Hershey Bears, are just one win away from the Kelly Cup Finals after defeating the Manchester Monarchs 3-1 on Saturday. The win gives them a 3-2 edge in the series, with Game Six on Monday night.

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At only 21-years-old, Vitek Vanecek had one of the best seasons a goalie could have at his age in the AHL. The young netminder went 18-10-7 in the regular season with five shutouts, despite a very rough month at the end of December through the end of January, where he went 0-5-2.

“I’ve said this to a number of people, you take out four weeks of his season, his numbers are excellent,” said head coach Troy Mann after the Bears game seven loss. “It’s unfortunate we played Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre for that stretch of hockey late-December and early-January.”

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For the first time in his professional career, Stan Galiev played an entire season with one hockey team. No recalls, no assignments, just hockey. But stability in your location does not mean stability in your hockey life.

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If you were to ask a person from Central Pennsylvania to name a Hershey Bear, even if they had only been to a few games over the last 10 years, you will likely hear one of two names: Garrett Mitchell or Chris Bourque.

Mitchell, 25, and Bourque, 31, are both set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 after each signing two-year contracts before the 2015-16 season. The two were leaders within Hershey’s locker room that set the standard for how you should hold yourself as a member of the Bears and brought stability to the club.

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Domenic Monardo, seen here during a game in 2016, had an assist in South Carolina’s 2-1 victory Friday night.


The South Carolina Stingrays tied their series with Manchester Friday night as they picked up a 2-1 win behind goals from Andrew Cherniwchan and Rob Flick, along with Parker Milner making 33 saves on 34 shots. The win puts South Carolina, the only remaining team in affiliation with the Washington Capitals playing playoff hockey, two wins away from heading back to the Kelly Cup Finals.

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It was a familiar scene for Jakub Vrana Friday morning at Giant Center. For the third year in a row, he was packing his hockey equipment in a large red Washington Capitals bag before heading home for the summer. At only 21, Vrana is viewed as the Capitals top prospect, but a tumultuous finish to his second full season as a professional, he finds himself in a tough situation.

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