You couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the season. Winning five straight games, including an overtime winner against their eventual playoff opponent, set the Bears up for a first round match-up against Lehigh Valley.
That final stretch had the Bears in a great mood at practice on Tuesday. A drill that ended with defenseman Colby Williams scoring had some of his teammates mob him in celebration, while other teammates on another squad skated away in disgust. While all in good fun, the Bears are ready to celebrate together fifteen times on the path to a Calder Cup Championship.
The Hershey Bears visited the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the last time this season with a lot on the line with the teams separated by only two points in the standings. For the first time in four contests in Bridgeport, Hershey took the game on a clutch power play goal from Travis Boyd and won the game with an empty net goal by a final of 3-1.
Unlike both of the games the Bears played at home this weekend, this game was a defensive showdown as many of the contests between these two clubs have been. The game was scoreless for the entire first period, and it was scoreless until Bridgeport’s Ross Johnston beat Pheonix Copley early in the second period.
Parker Milner made his first start in Chocolate Town for the Hershey Bears on Saturday night and impressed the 10,456 fans at Giant Center. 29 saves in his second win of the season promises Hershey they will win the week as they take down St. John’s, 5-2.
Last week, Riliegh McHugh and I invited a few of the Hershey Bears to try some soccer challenges with us at In the Net in Palmyra. Six players accepted and we split them up into two teams. Team Riliegh: Garrett Mitchell, Christan Djoos, and Ryan Bourque; and Team Kyle: Chris Bourque, Joe Cannata, and Stan Galiev.
When Ryan Bourque joined the Hershey Bears in a trade deadline deal, most Bears fans understood they were going to see a reunion between Ryan and his brother Chris. What fans probably didn’t know was the Chocolate and White were receiving one of the top penalty killers in the American Hockey League. Bourque made a sudden impact, joining Zach Sill on the top PK unit and turning the Bears into one of the toughest teams to play against on the man advantage. That was evident in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Chocolate and White held the top scoring team in the league to three power play goals in 16 chances. Without Ryan Bourque, we might be having a totally different discussion right now.
For the first time since 2010, the Hershey Bears are back in the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face one of the best teams to come through the AHL since the 2010 Hershey Bears team, the Toronto Marlies. This season’s Marlies team finished with 114 points and a 54-16-5-1 record. The teams only faced each other twice this season, each winning in the other team’s building.
With both teams coming off of a series that went the distance, we could be in for another long match-up between these two division winners.
This may be the best giveaway the Hershey Bears will ever have. Saturday night will be Chris Bourque Garden Gnome night. Next to the Buck Showalter Garden Gnome, this is the greatest garden gnome we’ve ever seen.
“I mean I didn’t design it that’s for sure,” said Chris Bourque about it. “But it’s alright.”
We continue emoji week as we feature two lines worth of Bears forwards. Carter Camper, Zach Sill, Dustin Gazley, Ryan Bourque, Sean Collins, and Paul Carey‘s emojis are below the jump.
And if you’ve missed any of our earlier sets, check out the bottom of the page to see all of the players!
For the first time since the end of the 2015 season, Chris and Ryan Bourque will be sporting the uniform as the younger Ryan joins the Hershey Bears.
“Obviously thrilled,” Chris said about the opportunity to play with Ryan again. “I got the chance to play with him last year. That was a first for us, we enjoyed it. It’s great to spend time with family. You don’t get to see each other too much when you are playing on opposite teams. To have him here is great for myself, him, and the family too.”
“I was a little shocked but most of all I was just really excited,” Ryan said about coming to Hershey. “I know I played with my brother last year, but to be able to come to the place where he started in the league and where he’s made his home is really special. The guys here have been great and I can’t wait to get started.”
Saturday night new broke that the Washington Capitals have acquired Chris Bourque’s brother, Ryan, from the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Brown.
Bourque, 25, was Hartford’s captain and had 24 points (10-24) in 54 games with them this season.
The Bourque brothers reunite after spending last season together with the Wolf Pack.