The Bear Cave

June 14, 2009 7:32 AM

Hershey Bears Win Tenth Calder Cup!

On Friday night, most of the hockey world was focused on game seven of the Stanley Cup Final, as the Pittsburgh Penguins picked up a thrilling 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings, avenging last season's disappointing finish. However, there was another game that took place, and oddly enough, that tilt also ended with the league's grand prize being handed out. The Hershey Bears defeated the Manitoba Moose 4-1 in game six of the Calder Cup Final, giving the Bears their second championship in four years, and tenth in franchise history.

Earlier in the week, the Hershey Bears had a terrific opportunity to finish the series, leading 3-1 with game five taking place in Chocolatetown at the Giant Center. Manitoba had other ideas, holding on for dear life in a 3-2 win, forcing the AHL's championship series back to Canada.

The visiting Bears weren't about to let history repeat itself in game six, as they needed less than four minutes to open the scoring. Chris Bourque took a pass from Kyle Wilson, as he drove down the middle of the ice in the offensive zone. While being pressured from behind by a Manitoba defender, Bourque fell to the ice, but still managed to nudge a pass over to Andrew Gordon on the left side of the ice. With Cory Schneider sprawling in his crease, Gordon calmly lifted a shot over the netminder to give his team the early 1-0 lead.

A little more than two minutes later, the Bears added to their lead with another tally from the line of Chris Bourque, Andrew Gordon, and Kyle Wilson. Once again, Wilson was the catalyst of the play, dropping back toward the top of the offensive zone, before handing a pass off for Bourque in the high slot. Bourque took a page out of his father's book, beating Schneider with a one-timer through a small screen in front.

Hershey wasn't done there. Midway through the opening stanza, the visitors extended the lead to three. The Moose turned the puck over in center ice, allowing Alexandre Giroux to breeze through the defense, gobbling up the loose biscuit, and skating in on a breakaway. The league's leading scorer carried the puck into the offensive zone on his forehand, before switching to his backhand, which he used to slide a shot under Schneider. The goal was Giroux's 15th of the playoffs and 75th of the year at the AHL level.

At that point, it was clear that the Moose were back on their heels, trailing 15-7 in shots and 3-0 on the scoreboard after just one period of play.

Midway through the second period, Manitoba finally found the back of the cage. Cody Hodgson took a pass from Shaun Heshka, and proceeded to skate around Hershey's net. As he reached the trapezoid, Hodgson was taken down, which would have led to a Moose power play. However, the rookie kept the play moving, finding Mario Bliznak open in the slot. Bliznak took the great feed and beat Michal Neuvirth with a one-timer glove side.

Despite the goal by Bliznak, the Bears were able to stay in control of the game, leading by a pair of goals when time expired at the end of period two.

Staring elimination in the face, the Moose threw everything they had at Hershey during the third. The Bears were only able to pick up four shots on goal, while Neuvirth in the line of fire for nine shots from Manitoba. The rookie netminder stopped all nine, and with 21 seconds remaining, Keith Aucoin iced the victory with an empty net goal.

Michal Neuvirth made 24 saves on 25 shots in the win for Hershey, while Cory Schneider stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced for Manitoba.

Thanks to a 16-6 record, a 1.92 goals against average, a .932 save percentage, and four shutouts in 22 appearances, Neuvirth was given the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the MVP of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

With the victory, the Hershey Bears have now won ten Calder Cups, giving them sole possession of the AHL' all-time record.

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