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Weekly Release: Bears Open Series with Americans

May 22, 2023

The Hershey Bears continue the 2023 playoffs, presented by Penn State Health, as they get set to face the Rochester Americans in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bears advanced to the fourth round of the postseason last week after sweeping the Hartford Wolf Pack in the best-of-five Atlantic Division Finals, sending Hershey to the AHL’s Final Four for the first time since 2016.

Goals: Connor McMichael, Mason Morelli, Aliaksei Protas (3)
Assists: Joe Snively (6)
Points: Sam Anas, Aliaksei Protas, Joe Snively (7)
Power-Play Goals: Logan Day, Mason Morelli, Aliaksei Protas, Mike Sgarbossa, Joe Snively (1)
Shorthanded Goals: N/A
Plus/Minus: Lucas Johansen (8)
Wins: Hunter Shepard (6)
GAA: Hunter Shepard (1.71)
SV%: Hunter Shepard (.933)
Only includes qualified players on active roster

Click here for full AHL playoff bracket


Monday, May 22
Practice, 10:30 a.m. at Hersheypark Arena

Tuesday, May 23
Morning Skate, 10:15 a.m. at GIANT Center
Game 1 vs. Rochester, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 24
Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Thursday, May 25
Morning Skate, 10:15 a.m. at GIANT Center
Game 2 vs. Rochester, 7 p.m.

Friday, May 26
Travel to Rochester

All practices are open to the public. Practice dates and times are subject to change as the Eastern Conference Finals series progresses.

  • Game 1: Tuesday, May 23 vs. Rochester Americans, 7 p.m. – BUY TICKETS
  • Game 2: Thursday, May 25 vs. Rochester Americans, 7 p.m.  – BUY TICKETS
  • Game 3: Saturday, May 27 at Rochester Americans, 7:05 p.m.
  • Game 4: Monday, May 29 at Rochester Americans, 6:05 p.m.
  • *Game 5: Wednesday, May 31 vs. Rochester Americans, 7 p.m. – BUY TICKETS
  • *Game 6: Friday, June 2 at Rochester Americans, 7:05 p.m.
  • *Game 7: Monday, June 5 vs. Rochester Americans, 7 p.m. – BUY TICKETS
* If necessary

TV Coverage: WPMT FOX43 (Games 2, 4), Antenna TV (Games 1, 3, 5, 6, 7); TV Coverage: Video Coverage: AHLTV; Radio Coverage: Bears Radio Network, Capitals Radio Network; Tickets:


The Bears and Americans will meet for the eighth time in their history in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The two storied franchises have a combined 17 league championships, and even played for the Calder Cup in the 1965 season (Rochester won that series, 4-1). In the previous two series against each other, both Hershey and Rochester each won a series via a sweep – Rochester won the 2000 Western Conference Finals 4-0, and Hershey took the 1994 Southern Division Semifinals 4-0. Hershey and Rochester each earned a win against the other to split the regular season series, although the Bears earned a shootout loss point.

The upcoming series between Hershey and Rochester presents a matchup featuring one of the most disciplined playoff teams against an opportunistic power play. The Bears have averaged 7.43 penalty minutes per game, good for the third-fewest among all 23 playoff teams; the Americans, meanwhile, boast the second-ranked power play, going 12-for-24 (41.4) with the man advantage.

The matchup with Rochester also presents a clash between the top offense in the playoffs against the top defense in the postseason. The Americans have scored 38 goals through eight playoff games, for an average of 4.75 goals per game; Hershey has recorded a stifling defense during the playoffs, surrendering 12 goals through seven contests, for an average of 1.71 goals against per game. Fortunately for the Bears, the Atlantic Division champs are also scoring at a high rate as well, finding the net an average of 3.86 times per game.

The Bears
have shown in the postseason an unwillingness to back down. Despite conceding the lead after the first period in three separate games, in each instance Hershey has managed to battle back – the team is 3-0 when trailing after the first period this spring, which leads the entire AHL.

Hunter Shepard has anchored the Bears in net during the postseason, ranking second with a 1.71 goals-against average and fourth with a .933 save percentage, while the Americans have leaned on Malcom Subban, who has posted a 3.06 GAA and a .910 save percentage. During the regular season, each goaltender earned a win, with Shepard making 22 saves in a 2-1 victory on March 18 while Subban went 24-for-27 in Rochester’s 4-3 shootout decision against the Bears on March 24.

A big point of emphasis for the Bears in this series will be shutting down Rochester’s Jiri Kulich. The 28th overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft has found the back of the net in each of his six playoff games, a streak which leads the entire playoff field. Two of his goals have also been game-winners, which is also tied for the league lead.

Connor McMichael is tied for first with two insurance goals…Vincent Iorio is tied for second among all rookies in plus/minus with +4, and tied for eighth among all rookie defensemen with four points (1g, 3a)…Hershey’s third-period goal differential of +10 leads the league…The Bears and Americans each carry home and road win streaks of three into this series.

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