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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Stan Galiev and Ryan Bourque celebrate with Nathan Walker after Walker’s OTGWG to give Hershey the win in game one of the Atlantic Division semi-finals. (Kyle Mace / Chocolate Hockey)

It took 67 minutes and 38 seconds, but the Hershey Bears were able to break a scoreless tie in overtime to take a 1-0 win in Game One of their first-round series in Lehigh Valley Friday night. Nathan Walker scored on a rebound of a Tyler Lewington shot to get Hershey the win in the extra session.

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Photo: @TheHersheyBears

With eleven minutes remaining in the third period, it looked like the end for the Hershey Bears. The team had surrendered an early 1-0 lead and trailed for the first time in the game to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and in the midst of a critical last five games for Hershey, the team needed a comeback.

The Bears needed a perfect goal to solve Phantoms goaltender Alex Lyon, and they got it with a goal five minutes later from Riley Barber. The game would go to overtime when Travis Boyd got around the defense and roofed a shot that went in and out in a flash to get the Bears a critical 3-2 win.

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Liam O’Brien Named Hershey Bears Man of the Year

On March 30, 2017, in News, by Kyle Mace

The Hershey Bears announced Thursday afternoon that forward Liam O’Brien has been named for the team’s Man of the Year award. O’Brien, 22, has participated in many events around the community as a representative of the team, like visits to Penn State Hershey’s Children’s hospital, reading to students with the Bears’ reading program at local elementary schools, skating with the American Special Hockey Association, along many other events.

“O’Brien has had such an exceptional season both on and off the ice,” VP of Hockey Operations Bryan Helmer said via a press release. “He is always eager and willing to participate in community-focused activities and events. We commend how much he enthusiastically gives back to the Hershey community.”

The Halifax, NS is now nominated for the AHL’s 2016-17 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award for league man of the year.

Press release:

The Hershey Bears are proud to announce that Liam O’Brien has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Hershey community during the 2016-17 season.

This year has seen O’Brien not only participate in various community activities, but he’s also experiencing a career-best season on the ice with the Hershey Bears team. His community-focused initiatives include:

· Visiting with patients and families at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

· Participant of the “Roaring to Read” reading program at local elementary schools.

· Delivering teddy bears at the Ronald McDonald House from the annual Hershey Bears Teddy Bear Toss event.

· Honoring our active military and veterans at Fort Indiantown Gap, USO.

· Spending time with patients at American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge as they endure cancer treatments.

· Instructor for the American Special Hockey Association event with Hershey Bears.

“O’Brien has had such an exceptional season both on and off the ice,” said Bryan Helmer, VP of Hockey Operations for the Hershey Bears. “He is always eager and willing to participate in community-focused activities and events. We commend how much he enthusiastically gives back to the Hershey community.”

Liam O’Brien is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2016-17 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.

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Riley Barber celebrates with Paul Carey after Carey’s fourth goal of the game on Saturday night against Hartford. (Kyle Mace / Chocolate Hockey)

The Hershey Bears defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack for the second time in as many nights behind four goals from Paul Carey. Hershey gets two more points to stay in fourth with rivals Bridgeport and Providence winning on this evening.

The Bears came out flying and were rewarded for their hard work as Carey picked up the puck and snapped a perfect shot over the glove of Mackenzie Skapski to make it 1-0 for the home team.

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Three hours after the Bears got off the ice at Giant Center in their first practice after winter storm Stella dropped just over a foot of snow on Chocolate Town, the hopped back on with a very special group of kids. The American Special Hockey Association’s York Polar Bears and Hershey Heros teams joined some of the Hershey players for a skate Wednesday afternoon.

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Liam O’Brien Recalled by Washington

On January 6, 2017, in News, by Kyle Mace

In one of the most well-deserved recalls in the past few years, Liam O’Brien is heading back to the NHL for the first time since 2014.

O’Brien played 13 games for Washington at the beginning of the 2014-15 season before being assigned to Hershey. Since that stint, O’Brien has played 132 games for the Bears, scoring 16 goals and 42 points, 18 of those points coming this season alone.

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Since his assignment to Hershey in December 2014, Liam O’Brien has become a fan favorite. The Halifax, NS native won over Bears fans with his grit and hard-nosed style of play. But a recent promotion to the second line has O’Brien only two points away from matching his season total from last year. Heading into Christmas Break, O’Brien is riding a four-game point streak, which was extended with a beautiful assist to Paul Carey on Sunday night.

“This is basically our third year with Liam, and his skill set has certainly improved,” head coach Troy Mann said. “One thing I brought up during my interview process three years ago was to involve more skill development with our team prior to practice. We’ve been doing it here for the third season. Liam as a prospect, young player, has been a big part of that, and a lot of the credit goes to Ryan Murphy. One of his strengths as a coach is his ability to break down the skillset. He does a nice job with the forwards.”

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On Tuesday afternoon, the Hershey Bears visited Penn State Hershey’s Children’s Hospital for their annual Christmas craft day. Bears players Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Liam O’Brien, Zach Sanford, Tyler Lewington, and Aaron Ness helped some patients make some picture frames and sign some autographs for them.

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Hershey Bears UFC 2: Liam O’Brien vs. Jakub Vrana

On July 14, 2016, in Video, by Kyle Mace

o'brien vrana ufc 2

During the regular season, we began our Hershey Bears video game series with Bears forward Jakub Vrana taking on Jonas Siegenthaler in a game of FIFA 16. Now, only weeks away from UFC 202, featuring a rematch of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz, we have decided it’s now a perfect time to feature another match-up from that day. Vrana takes on Liam O’Brien in UFC 2. Vrana will fight out of the blue corner as Nate Diaz, as O’Brien fights out of the red as The Notorious Conor McGregor.

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