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Get to know the power behind the Hershey Bears bench.
Bryan Helmer was named Hershey's Vice President of Hockey Operations in July 2016, moving to the front office after spending time as a player and assistant coach with the Bears during his Hall of Fame career.
After spending two seasons working on Troy Mann's staff as an assistant coach, Helmer was named the Vice President of Hockey Operations following the retirement of General Manager Doug Yingst. Helmer, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, oversees the day-to-day operations of the club's hockey department. He works closely with team's coaching staff, as well as the Washington Capitals, Hershey's NHL affiliate, on all decisions involving players and personnel.
Helmer was inducted in the AHL Hall of Fame in 2017 after an illustrious playing career. He is the AHL's all-time leader in points by a defenseman. He recorded 564 points (129 goals, 435 assists) in a remarkable 20-year career that totaled 1,117 regular-season games. Helmer is also the AHL's all-time leader in Calder Cup playoff appearances, having played in 159 postseason games. He won three Calder Cups in his career, including captaining the Bears to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Helmer also played 146 games in the NHL with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington, totaling 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists).
Prior to returning to Hershey, Helmer served as an assistant coach with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL in 2013-14. Helmer resides in the Hershey area with his wife Pam, son Cade, and daughter Rylan.
Scott Allen was named the 27th head coach in franchise history in August 2021 after serving as an assistant coach with the Bears for two seasons. Allen brings more than 25 years of coaching experience at the NHL, AHL, and ECHL levels to Hershey.
Allen joined Hershey in 2019, serving as an assistant coach on Spencer Carbery's staff for two seasons. He helped the Bears to a Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy in 2020-21 as AHL regular season champions. Prior to joining Hershey, Allen served as an assistant coach for the two seasons with the Arizona Coyotes from 2017-19, overseeing the team's defense and penalty kill units. The Coyotes were tied for the top penalty kill unit in the NHL in 2018-19 at 85%, and the team tied for 5th in the NHL in goals against. Allen has additional NHL experience as an assistant coach with Florida (2016-17) and with the New York Islanders (2009-12).
The New Bedford, Massachusetts native has vast experience coaching in the AHL, most recently with the Portland Pirates. He started the 2015-16 campaign as an assistant coach, and was promoted to head coach of the Pirates on Jan. 1, 2016, helping guide the club to a playoff berth. In addition to Portland, Allen has worked as an assistant coach with San Antonio (2002-04, 2014-15), Lowell (2004-05), Omaha (2005-07), Quad City (2007-09), Peoria (2012-13), and Chicago (2013-14). He twice took over head coaching duties mid-season with San Antonio in 2002-03 and 2003-04.
With his hiring in Hershey, Allen returned to the state where he started his coaching career in 1996-97. He served as an assistant coach with the ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs that season, and took over head coaching duties the following year. A former forward, Allen played professionally before moving behind the bench, including claiming back-to-back Kelly Cups with Carolina in 1989 and Greensboro in 1990.
Patrick Wellar returned to Hershey as an assistant coach ahead of the 2018-19 season after playing parts of six seasons with the Bears from 2008-2014.
Under his watch, the Bears were the AHL’s best defensive team in 2020-21, allowing just 2.33 goals per game, en route to winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as AHL regular season champions.
A former defender, Wellar was a stalwart on Hershey's blue line during his playing career. He was part of Hershey's 2010 Calder Cup Championship team that went 60-17-0-3 in regular season play before ultimately claiming the franchise's 11th title. In total, the Carrot River, Saskatchewan native appeared in 260 games with Hershey, scoring 46 points (7 goals, 39 assists), and posting a +24 rating. He also appeared in 36 playoff contests with the club.
Following his departure from Hershey, Wellar served as a player/assistant coach with the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies in 2014-15, and Alaska Aces in 2015-16. Upon his retirement, Wellar moved behind the bench permanently as an assistant coach with the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones, guiding the club to a 36-29-6-1 record in 2015-16. He joined the ECHL's Reading Royals for the 2017-18 season in the same capacity, helping the club secure a playoff berth with a 39-24-9-0 record, good for a third place in the North Division.
In his 12-year playing career, Wellar, a third round selection of the Capitals in 2002, amassed over 300 games in the AHL, making stops in Peoria, Worcester, Toronto, and Hershey. His resume also includes 441 games at the ECHL level, including an All-Star Game appearance in 2005. Wellar won the Kelly Cup three times, including with Alaska in 2006, South Carolina in 2009, and Reading in 2013.
Steve Bergin joined the Bears as an assistant coach in August 2021. He previously worked in the Washington Capitals organization with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays as an assistant coach (2016-19) and head coach (2019-20).
As an assistant coach with South Carolina, Bergin also took part in three playoff appearances as well as a run to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2017. Bergin also helped oversee the best defensive team in the history of the ECHL in 2017-18 which broke records for least goals allowed (153), lowest team goals-against average (2.13) and fewest power play goals allowed (27).
Bergin was named ninth head coach in South Carolina history prior to the 2019-20 season. That year he guided the Stingrays to the ECHL’s best regular season record of 44-14-4, winning the John Brophy Award as ECHL Coach of the Year. During that season, the Stingrays were the best defensive club in the ECHL last season, allowing a league-low 2.37 goals per game.
The native of Groton, Mass. served as an assistant coach for Sacred Heart University during the 2020-21 campaign. The former defenseman played at the University of Connecticut from 2007-11, and played parts of five seasons in the Southern Professional Hockey League, winning the President's Cup three times with Pensacola Ice Flyers.
Alex Westlund joined the Bears in August 2017 and serves as the team’s Associate Goaltending Coach
The New Jersey native joined the Washington organization after spending two seasons as the goalie coach with the DEL's Augsburg Panther Eishockey Club in Germany, in addition to working with Zagreb of the KHL. His resume also includes experience with USA Hockey, serving as the head goalie coach and evaluator for the New England District, being a member of the goalie evaluation group for the USA Hockey's Select 17 Festival, and participating in the prestigious Warren Strelow Camp.
Under Westlund’s watch, Hershey’s goaltending tandem of Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale won the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award in 2020-21, presented to the goaltender(s) on the team which allows the fewest goals per game in the regular season. The Bears allowed an average of 2.33 goals per game, finishing with the fewest goals against in the AHL for the first time since 1996-97. Westlund’s tenure in Hershey has also seen him guide goaltenders Ilya Samosnov and Vitek Vanecek, who have each graduated to the NHL.
In his playing career, Westlund appeared in over 750 professional games over the course of 16 seasons from 1999-2015. He spent time in the American Hockey League with the Worcester IceCats, Milwaukee Admirals, and Hartford Wolf Pack. A vast amount of his playing career was spent overseas, including four years with Linz EHC of the Austrian Erste Banke Eishockey Liga from 2008-12. He earned league MVP honors in 2010, and helped the club to its second league championship in 2012. In his career, Westlund was selected twice to represent his country. He won the Deutschland Cup as a member of Team USA in 2003, and played in the 2004 World Championships.
A graduate of Yale University, Westlund remains the all-time leader in games played (99) and saves (2,704) for the Bulldogs. He played at Yale from 1994-1999, and in 1998, he was named a NCAA 2nd Team All-American, and won the Ken Dryden Award as the ECAC's Goaltender of the Year
Emily Engel-Natzke joined the Bears as video coach in November 2020. She joined the Chocolate and White after working at the University of Wisconsin where she served as the assistant director of operations/video coordinator.
With the Badgers, Engel-Natzke worked with both the men’s and women’s hockey teams from 2015-17, and exclusively with the men’s team from 2017-20. The native of Fort Collins, Colorado assisted the coaching staff by producing game-by-game video breakdowns and opponent pre-scouts, while also creating video content for players, recruits, and alumni. As a member of the women's coaching staff, she helped the Badgers to regular season and WCHA tournament titles in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
Engel-Natzke also started working with USA Hockey in 2013, and served as the video coach for USA Hockey’s U18 and Senior Women’s National Teams. She was part of the World Championship winning staff for the U18 team in 2018 in Russia, and the 2019 Senior Women’s team in Finland.
The graduate of the University of Colorado-Boulder also worked numerous USA Hockey camps and festivals.
Dan "Beaker" Stuck serves as the Bears Manager of Wellness and Team Affairs, a role he moved into in 2018 after serving as the team's Head Trainer since 1985.
Stuck became Hershey's assistant trainer in 1983, and then took a year away to become the assistant equipment manager for the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers. The following season, in 1985-86, he was named Hershey's Head Trainer, a position he held until moving into a new role in 2018. The man they call "Beaker," has witnessed championships in 1987-88, 1996-97, 2005-06, 2008-09, and 2009-10 under John Paddock, Bob Hartley, Bruce Boudreau, Bob Woods, and Mark French. Stuck, one of the most decorated trainers in the league history, is a veteran of over 2,600 games and worked seven All-Star games.
Stuck's main responsibilities include working with the hockey operations staff to help maintain the rich tradition of Hershey Bears Hockey within the locker room with the players and coaches. He coordinates team travel, and assists with the team’s community efforts.
Stuck lives in Palmyra with his wife Janice. He has a daughter, Alexis, as well as a son Dustin, who serves as the athletic trainer with the Providence Bruins.
Brian Riedel joined the Hershey Bears as assistant athletic trainer in Sept. 2019 and was promoted to head athletic trainer in Dec. 2020.
Riedel joined the Bears from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL. He spent the 2018-19 season with the club, serving as head athletic trainer. He held the same title with the Peoria Rivermen of the Southern Professional Hockey League during the 2017-18 campaign.
The native of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. During his time in college, he worked closely with the school's men's hockey team.
Shawn Fliszar joined the Hershey Bears as assistant athletic trainer in Dec. 2020 after previously spending time in the ECHL.
Fliszar joined the Bears from the ECHL's Atlanta Gladiators. He worked as the club's head athletic trainer during the 2019-20 season. Prior to moving to Georgia, Fliszar gained experience with the ECHL's Norfolk Admirals, first serving as an athletic training intern, then being hired as the club's head athletic trainer in 2018.
A native of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Fliszar holds a bachelor's degree from DeSales University and a master's degree from Moravian College. He also has past experience as an athletic training intern at Old Dominion University, Lehigh University, and Palisades High School.
Mike Wagner joined the Bears in 2016 as the club’s Strength and Conditioning Coach. He oversees the team's weight room, player workouts, and conditioning of all players.
A Hershey native, Wagner has experience working with the University of Maryland, Millersville University, and most recently Villanova University. Wagner has a Masters Degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a concentration in Injury Prevention and Performance Enhancement. He resides in the Hershey area with his wife Katrina.
Josh Carter has served as the Head Equipment Manager of the Hershey Bears since 2014.
Carter has been around the Bears his whole life, and worked as a stick boy and locker room attendant for the Bears from the time he was 12 to his graduation from Elizabethtown High School in 2010. Carter is a 2013 graduate of California University of Pennsylvania, where played hockey for the Vulcans and served as their equipment manager.
He spent the 2013-14 season as an Assistant Equipment Manager for the Anaheim Ducks before returning to Hershey to take the position of Head Equipment Manager. His uncle, Doug "Sluggo" Shearer, was the equipment manager for the Anaheim Ducks until 2018, and was a former equipment manager for the Washington Capitals (1983-2007) and Bears (1981-83).
Dillon Filepas joined the Chocolate and White as an Assistant Equipment Manager in 2017 after previously working with the Bears from 2008-12.
The Elizabethtown native and is no stranger to the Hershey organization. He returned to Central Pennsylvania with the Bears after serving as the head equipment manager for the 2017 Clark Cup Champion Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. With the Steel, Filepas was responsible for all team equipment needs including skate sharpening, jersey embroidery, equipment repair, and overseeing the team's ordering and inventory.
From 2008-12, Filepas worked with the Bears as a stick boy and locker room attendant, assisting during Hershey's Calder Cup Championship seasons in 2009 and 2010. Additionally, he worked at ProSkate, a hockey pro shop at Klick Lewis Arena in Palmyra.