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20240513-weeklyrelease-hfd-snively

Weekly Release: Bears Open Series with Wolf Pack

May 13, 2024

After the Hershey Bears advanced in the 2024 Calder Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 series victory last weekend over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, the Bears' next test is a best-of-five Atlantic Division Finals matchup with the Hartford Wolf Pack for the second consecutive postseason.

2024 CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS TEAM LEADERS:
Goals: Ethen Frank (3)
Assists: Chase Priskie, Joe Snively, Bogdan Trineyev (3)
Points: Ethen Frank (5)
Power-Play Goals: Ethen Frank, Alex Limoges (1)
Shorthanded Goals: N/A
Plus/Minus: Chase Priskie, Henrik Rybinski (+4)
Wins: Hunter Shepard (3)
GAA: Hunter Shepard (1.77)
SV%: Hunter Shepard (.940)
Only includes qualified players

LOCAL PRACTICE SCHEDULE FOR WEEK OF MAY 13:

Monday, May 13
Black Aces Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Tuesday, May 14
Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Wednesday, May 15
Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Thursday, May 16
Morning Skate, 10:15 a.m. at GIANT Center

Friday, May 17
Practice, 10:30 a.m. at GIANT Center

Saturday, May 18
Morning Skate, 10:15 a.m. at GIANT Center

All practices are open to the public. Practice dates and times are subject to change; please check HersheyBears.com daily for updates.

ATLANTIC DIVISION SEMIFINALS RESULTS:

-       Game 1 - Wednesday, May 1 - Hershey 2 vs. Lehigh Valley 1
-       Game 2 - Saturday, May 4 - Hershey 5 vs. Lehigh Valley 1
-       Game 3 - Wednesday, May 8 - Hershey 0 at Lehigh Valley 2
-       Game 4 - Saturday, May 11 - Hershey 5 at Lehigh Valley 3

ATLANTIC DIVISION FINALS SCHEDULE:

Game 1 - Thursday, May 16 - Hershey vs. Hartford Wolf Pack, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

  • Calder Cup Playoffs Rally Towel Giveaway - The first 5,500 fans in attendance will receive a Calder Cup Playoffs rally towel, courtesy of Toyota, Pepsi, and GIANT.

Game 2 - Saturday, May 18 - Hershey vs. Hartford Wolf Pack, 7 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

  • Calder Cup Playoffs Rally Towel Giveaway - The first 5,500 fans in attendance will receive a Calder Cup Playoffs rally towel, courtesy of Toyota, Pepsi, and GIANT.

Game 3 - Wednesday, May 22 - Hershey at Hartford Wolf Pack, 7 p.m.

*Game 4 - Friday, May 24 - Hershey at Hartford Wolf Pack, 7 p.m.

*Game 5 - Sunday, May 26 - Hershey vs. Hartford Wolf Pack, 5 p.m. - BUY TICKETS

*if necessary

Television Coverage: FOX43.2 Antenna TV (locally, Games 3-5), Monumental Sports Network (Washington, D.C. market, all games); Video Coverage: AHLTV; Radio Coverage: Bears Radio Network, Capitals Radio Network

All times Eastern

TEAM NEWS AND NOTES:

WE MEET AGAIN:
Hershey and Hartford have met twice before in the postseason: the Wolf Pack took the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-2, while the Bears swept Hartford 3-0 in the 2023 Atlantic Division Finals on their way to the franchise's 12th Calder Cup championship. Hartford has advanced to the Division Finals for the second consecutive season after rallying from a 1-0 series deficit against Charlotte with two straight in the opening round, then upsetting the second-place Providence Bruins 3-1 in the Division Semifinals. Three of Hartford's five playoff victories this spring have been earned in overtime. The Bears previously faced the Wolf Pack franchise in the postseason in its previous incarnations as the Binghamton Whalers/Dusters (going 1-2 lifetime in head-to-head playoff series, with Hershey's lone series victory against Binghamton coming in a four-game sweep of the 1988 Southern Division Semifinals on the way to the Bears' seventh Calder Cup), and five times as the Providence Reds (4-1 series record, with each team claiming a Calder Cup against the other: Providence in 1949, and Hershey in 1974).

REGULAR SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD:
Since the Binghamton Rangers relocated to Hartford prior to the 1997-98 season, the Bears have owned a 47-30-2-3-6 regular season record against the Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale franchise; Hershey was 3-1-0-0 against Hartford during the 2023-24 regular season. Ethen Frank (3g, 0a), Alex Limoges (1g, 2a), and Riley Sutter (1g, 2a) tied for the team lead in scoring against Hartford with three points, while Alex Belzile paced the Wolf Pack with four points (1g, 3a). Hunter Shepard earned all three Bears wins, going 3-0-0 with a 0.97 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage, while Louis Domingue - currently the No. 3 goaltender for the New York Rangers - had Hartford's only victory. Hershey's power play operated at a 4-for-15 (26.7%) clip against the Wolf Pack, while the penalty kill went 10-for-13 (76.9%).

FIRST STRIKE:
The Bears boast a lifetime playoff series record of 56-19 when winning the first game of a playoff series, and a 22-39 record when dropping the opening game. In the history of the Bears/Wolf Pack rivalry, every team that has won the first game of a playoff matchup went on to win the series; Hershey dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Hartford in Game 1 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals, while the Bears rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory over the Wolf Pack in Game 1 of last year's series to catapult the Chocolate and White to a series sweep.

GRIFFINS CONNECTION:
Bears head coach Todd Nelson and Wolf Pack general manager Ryan Martin previously won the Calder Cup together in their same respective roles with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2017; current Bears captain Dylan McIlrath was also a member of that championship squad, who had began the 2016-17 season in the New York Rangers/Hartford organization before trades to Florida and Detroit led to his assignment to Grand Rapids, where he captured his first Calder Cup.

FRANK TURNAROUND:
Ethen Frank led Hershey in the series against Lehigh Valley with five points (3g, 2a), as the sophomore forward netted his first three-point game in the postseason in Game 2 and scored the series-clinching goal in Game 4. While finding the net in the regular season has not been an issue for Frank (60 goals in 126 regular-season games), the forward initially struggled in the playoffs last spring by failing to score in his first 11 postseason games; Frank eventually broke through with goals in Games 3 and 4 of the 2023 Calder Cup Finals, including burying the game-winning tally in Game 4 that leveled the championship round with Coachella Valley at two games apiece. He now has three game-winners in his last eight playoff games.

SPECIAL TEAMS SETUP MAN:
Hendrix Lapierre was a factor on both of Hershey's power-play goals in the previous round to lead the Bears with two power-play assists, earning a helper on Alex Limoges' goal on the man advantage in Game 2, and assisting on Ethen Frank's eventual game-winner in Game 4. Lapierre had four power-play assists in 21 regular-season games for Hershey, while spending the majority of the season with the Washington Capitals, where he skated in 51 NHL games and picked up two power-play helpers and added an assist on the man advantage in four contests in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

BENCH BOSS BREAKDOWN:
Currently eighth in league history with 406 regular-season wins, Bears head coach Todd Nelson also owns an AHL postseason coaching record of 59-38, going 20-20 with Oklahoma City, 22-11 in Grand Rapids, and 17-7 in his tenure with the Bears. Wolf Pack interim head coach Steve Smith took over behind the bench for Hartford on Nov. 12, 2023 after head coach Kris Knoblauch accepted the same position with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers; this is Smith's first head coaching role after previously serving as an assistant coach with Hartford, as well as in the NHL with Calgary, Edmonton, Carolina, and Buffalo. Smith went 27-25-6-3 to finish the regular season and has gone 6-2 so far in his first postseason as a head coach.

BEARS BITES:
Aaron Ness is Hershey's active leader for career playoff games with 56, and he is four games away from tying Larry Zeidel for 10th in franchise history. Ness' 15 career playoff assists are also the active leader for the Bears and is tied for 11th in franchise history among defensemen with Pascal Trepanier, while his next assist will move him into a four-way tie for eighth with Rich Brennan, Mike Gaul, and Steve Smith...The Washington Capitals announced the re-assignment of forward Alex Suzdalev to Hershey from Saskatoon of the Western Hockey League on Saturday.




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