On Roller Coasters and Live Hockey in Hershey in June

Cup'pa JoeTake a moment to appreciate what the Hershey Bears accomplished over the holiday weekend. I was in Hershey last Saturday night when Providence stunned the Bears in game 1, and entering the third period of game 2 on Sunday, the two teams were deadlocked, and with Tuuka Rask making the Hershey faithful recall Carey Price and 2007’s Calder run disappointment, and with games three through five of the series to be contested in Providence, it wasn’t clear that we’d be seeing hockey in Giant Center again this season. I took the elevator out of Giant Center late Saturday night with Bears’ radio voice John Walton and the Patriot News’ Tim Leone. In his conference finals preview Leone had predicted a Hershey triumph in five games. Walton joked that if things didn’t turn out better on Sunday, my visiting privileges from bad playoff karma D.C. would be revoked. 

Well this morning we know that we won’t be seeing any more games with Providence at Giant Center this spring, cause da Bears done won all those road games in New England over the weekend. Three straight. I’m waiting for Tim’s self-congratulatory email: “Told you it wouldn’t go past five games.”

Wow.

Beginning this coming Saturday night the Hershey Bears will compete in the Calder Cup finals for the 21st time in their 71 seasons. Obviously, no other AHL franchise can touch that. Saturday will also mark the third Calder finals appearance by the Bears in the past four seasons.      

Raise your hand if you think folks up in the Central Valley miss much the old affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche.

I don’t imagine Walton would much mind my sharing part of a message he sent me about a month ago: “I continue to be blown away by the Caps and their ability to not just
pick talent, but talent mixed with character. It’s happened far too
many times over the last four years to be an accident.”

Talent? Character? Winning three straight in an away building in the postseason, in the same weekend, against a quality club with an elite talent in net like Rask, takes talent and character all right.

Here are some more talent and character checkpoints for these Bears and this organization. How about overcoming a 3-0 deficit Friday night in game 3, pulverizing Rask with four unanswered, third period tallies? How about following that up with another stunner Sunday — Hershey fell behind 2-0 in game 4, knotted it up at 2, and watched Graham Mink win it in OT.

How about watching the hosts square things up early in game 5’s third period Monday afternoon, earn a power play soon thereafter, the momentum suddenly swaying their way, and having Chris Bourque red light a short-handed dagger in their hearts? That takes talent and character all right.

How about a fella with a recently ruptured spleen scoring in the third period of a tight game 5? That would be, of course, Quintin Laing, Mr. Character.  

Yes the Bears have benefited from the high perches from which the Caps drafted from 2004 through 2007. But the Capitals’ and Bears’ scouting regimes have also plucked prizes from the cast asides in free agency: Jay Beagle, Dave Steckel, Quintin Laing, Joey Tenute, Tyler Sloan. Oh, and the team’s current captain, Bryan Helmer.

The Bears fell out of the playoffs conspicuously early last season. Note one of the first offseason personnel moves made by General Manager Doug Yingst: inking 2006 Calder Cup hero Graham Mink. All Mink did during the regular season was score 32 goals and 59 points in 68 games. He’s added 10 points in 16 postseason games, and was game 4’s overtime hero.

It’s a bit of a dream matchup in the 2009 Calder Cup finals — the 50-win, 106-pt. Bears versus the 50-win, 107-pt. Manitoba Moose. The Moose have the home ice, but games 3 and 4 are at Giant Center on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7. I think appreciative Caps’ fans in these parts should bring a little Red Fever up to Giant Center those nights.   

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9 Responses to On Roller Coasters and Live Hockey in Hershey in June

  1. got stanley? says:

    I was at game 1 as well, and had scheduled the trip in such a way as to pay a visit to Hersheypark the next morning. Made a fun trip, even if the people I normally go to things like this with either can’t fit on or don’t like rollercoasters. Riding everything alone = sadpanda 😦
    So! Given that June 6th and 7th will find Hershey playing in the Calder Cup final, anyone else up for a trip from DC to Hershey?

  2. NurseBobbi says:

    My husband and I hope to make the trip. We’re trying to get tickets for June 7th, but haven’t been able to get through to ticket sales yet.

  3. themermaid says:

    It was easier to get tix for The Boss at Verizon Center — tried a zillion times and couldn’t get beyond a busy signal on the phone. Two years ago we got through instantly and scored great seats for games 1 and 2 at a ridiculously reasonable price.
    Any ideas about alternative sources? Ticketmaster works only if you want to fly to Manitoba. Nothing so far on StubHub. Can pay the AHL to watch on the internet — that may turn out to be the only option for those of us who couldn’t get in line at the box office this morning.

  4. MaryRWise says:

    Sounds like a lovely weekend trip, so we’re going! Scored two tickets via Ticketmaster and a room at the Harrisburg Fairfield Inn (thanks, Marriott points). Woot!

  5. JG284481-37-5 says:

    According to the AM (WHP 580) news/talk radio station there, its now the Susquehanna Valley.

  6. odessa steps magazine says:

    Sadly, one Bears season ticket holder who has not made it up for a playoff game yet. Holding out hope for the Finals.
    GO bears GO

  7. TheMermaid says:

    Finally made it through to the box office this morning for tix. Yes!! The hockey gods smiled. In 2007, the guy next to me caught a flying puck in his kilt . . . I don’t expect to see that twice.

  8. Nursebobbi says:

    Great! My husband finally got through yesterday afternoon (while waiting in the dentist’s chair), so we’re going on 6/7.

  9. GameOn! says:

    Just be patient and keep calling. I got thru after about 10-12 calls, and got tix for Saturday. I’m very excited to go!

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