With the 2008-09 road schedule complete, the BEARS return home for the final two games of the regular season this weekend, hosting first the Philadelphia Phantoms Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. It's the last regular season meeting ever between the two clubs, after a 13-year rivalry that netted the franchises two Calder Cups apiece.
The Phantoms scored three times in the first period Friday and rode the momentum to a 5-2 win in the final regular season game to ever be held at the Wachovia Spectrum. Alexandre Giroux scored his 58th goal of the season in the third period to extend his franchise record for goals in a single season. Andrew Joudrey also scored for HERSHEY, his sixth of the season. Coupled with wins Friday by Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the BEARS and Tigers are tied for the lead in the East Division. The Penguins sit two points back entering play tonight.
Alexandre Giroux was named by the American Hockey League Friday the 2008-09 Les Cunningham award winner, given annually to the league's most valuable player. Giroux recorded goals in 15 straight games back in January to establish a new league record for goal scoring in consecutive games. Giroux also established a new HERSHEY franchise record by notching at least a point in 23 straight games, which also was the longest point streak by an AHL player in 2008-09. Giroux will be presented his award on the ice this weekend at GIANT Center. The Quebec City native is also poised to win an AHL scoring title on home ice this weekend. Giroux, who passed Keith Aucoin Friday with a point in Philadelphia, has 95 points this season.
After trailing the Binghamton Senators by as much as 12 points last month, the Phantoms completed a rally for a Calder Cup playoff berth Friday night with a win over the BEARS. Philadelphia has clinched fourth place, and cannot move up or down in the standings. John Paddock's team will play the East Division champion next week in the 2009 East Division Semi-Finals.
The Binghamton Senators, who were eliminated from contention for the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs Friday with a home loss to Norfolk, conclude the 2008-09 season Saturday with a game in Albany against the River Rats. The Lowell Devils will provide the opposition for Bridgeport's final regular season game of 2008-09 Saturday, with face-off at the Arena at Harbor Yard slated for 7:00 p.m. The Norfolk Admirals conclude the regular season with a game at Wachovia Arena against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Saturday's game can be heard via the BEARS Radio Network (100.1 FM, 1490 AM, Sportsjuice.com, AHLLive.com) beginning with the pregame show at 6:40 p.m. John Walton has the call of the action. Sunday's regular season finale against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton still has tickets available. Call the GIANT Center box office for ticket information at (717) 534-3911.