|League:||American Hockey League|
|Home Arena:||Giant Center|
|Colors:||Chocolate, white, brown, tan|
|Owner(s):||Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO)|
|General Manager:||Doug Yingst|
|Head Coach:||Mark French (ice hockey)|
|Affiliates:||Washington Capitals (NHL)|
Reading Royals (ECHL)
|1933–1934:||Hershey Chocolate B'ars|
|Regular Season Titles:||7 1942–43, 1957–58,|
1980–81, 1985–86, 1987–88, 2006–07, 2009–10
|Division Championships:||15 1938–39, 1943–44,|
1946–47, 1951–52, 1966–67, 1967–68, 1968–69, 1975–76, 1980–81, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1993–94, 2006–07, 2008–09, 2009–10
|Conference Championships:||22 1940–41, 1941–42,|
|Calder Cups:||11 1946–47, 1957–58,|
The Hershey Bears (also called the Hershey Bears Hockey Club) are a professional ice hockey team playing in the American Hockey League, and is currently the top affiliate of the NHL Washington Capitals. The hockey club is based in the unincorporated town of Hershey, Pennsylvania, located within Derry Township some 14 miles east of the state's capital of Harrisburg. Since the 2002-03 season the Bears' home games have been played at the Giant Center located just west of Hersheypark Arena, the club's previous home in both the EAHL (1936–1938) and I-AHL/AHL (1936–2002). The Bears' won their AHL record eleventh and most recent Calder Cup title over the Texas Stars in 2010.
Hershey is the longest continuously operating member club in the AHL having received its franchise in June, 1938, and played its 5,000th regular season league game on December 20, 2006. Founded as the Hershey B'ars in the Tri-State Hockey League in 1932, the hockey club is also the seventh-oldest continuously operating professional ice hockey organization in North America after the Original Six teams of the National Hockey League which each began operations in their current cities in either the National Hockey Association (1909-1917) or NHL between 1909 and 1926. The Hershey Bears Hockey Club is owned and operated by the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO), formerly known as Hershey Estates, an entity wholly owned and administered by the Hershey Trust Company.
Official Hershey Bears Website: http://www.hersheybears.com/
From B'ars to Bears
The history of the Hershey Bears hockey club goes back to a series of amateur hockey matches played in Hershey between college teams beginning in early 1931. The first such formal hockey game ever played in Hershey took place on February 18, 1931, when Penn A.C. and Villanova University faced off in the 1,900-seat Hershey Ice Palace. Nine months after that successful inaugural contest, Swarthmore Athletic Club moved into the Ice Palace, where they played their first game on November 19, 1931, against Crescent A.C. of New York City. (In the lineup that night for Crescent was a 23-year-old center named Lloyd S. Blinco, a native of Grand Mere, Quebec. He came to Hershey the next season and would remain continuously associated with Hershey hockey for a half century as a player, coach, and manager).
The popularity of these amateur hockey matches prompted chocolate-maker and amusement park-operator, Milton S. Hershey, and his long-time entertainment and amusements chief, John B. Sollenberger, to sponsor a permanent team in 1932–1933 called the Hershey B'ars. The club joined the newly formed Tri-State Hockey League with teams from Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Atlantic City. After one season, that circuit reformed itself into a larger, seven-club loop called the Eastern Amateur Hockey League in which Hershey played first as the "Chocolate B'ars" (1933–1934), then again as the "B'ars" (1934–1936), and finally in 1936 as the "Hershey Bears," a name they adopted in response to criticism levied by New York sportswriters and the league that the "B'ars" moniker was too commercial. (These writers had already informally dubbed the club as the "Bears from Penn's Woods" when they visited Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rovers.)
On December 19, 1936, the newly renamed Bears also moved from the confines of the Ice Palace (where they had to play on a small, 60x170-foot rink) into the newly constructed 7,286-seat Hersheypark Arena (then known as the "Hershey Sports Arena") built immediately adjacent to the older venue. Over the next sixty-six seasons, the Bears played a remarkable total of 2,280 regular season and playoff games at the Hersheypark Arena, which served as their home from 1936 to 2002.
In 1938–1939, the Bears became the eighth member of the newly formed International-American Hockey League (renamed the American Hockey League in 1940) which was created on June 28, 1938, by the formal merger of the International and the Canadian-American (Can-Am) Hockey Leagues, after those two smaller circuits had played interlocking schedules with each other over the previous two seasons. Although three of the seven other charter-member I-AHL cities (Springfield, Massachusetts, Syracuse, New York, and Providence, Rhode Island) are also represented in the AHL today, only the Bears have played in the league without interruption since that inaugural 1938–1939 I-AHL season. The Bears are currently the seventh-oldest professional ice hockey team playing in North America. Only the Original Six National Hockey League teams are older than the Hershey Bears.
In the mid-1950s, the Hershey Bears signed Don Cherry, a young high-schooler playing in the Ontario Hockey Association. Cherry's first National Hockey League game was in the 1954–1955 season, when the Boston Bruins called him up for a playoff game. He went on playing for another 20 seasons before becoming a coach, and eventually, a comentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Hockey Night in Canada television broadcast. During the three seasons Cherry played for the Bears, from 1954 to 1957, he earned 424 penalty minutes, 15 goals, and 55 assists.
The Washington Capitals returned as the Bears NHL parent club in 2005 after a 21-year span with the Boston Bruins, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Colorado Avalanche. (The club has also had earlier NHL affiliations with the Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres). As of the 2009–2010 Calder Cup Finals, the Bears have played in 22 Finals series, a league record. The Bears went back-to-back in 2008–2010 to win their 10th and 11th Calder Cups, winning their most recent cup versus the Texas Stars. The Bears became the first team in AHL history to win a Calder Cup series after trailing the series 0–2, going on to win 4 straight to take the series 4–2.
On December 20, 2006, the Bears played their 5,000th regular season game at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York. The Bears scored seven times en route to a 7–4 win versus the Albany River Rats.
On May 2, 2007, the Bears played their 500th Calder Cup playoff game in franchise history at the GIANT Center. The Bears played the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and won 4–3.
In 2010 the Bears set a new club record with 12 straight wins, topping their previous record of 11 set the season earlier in 2008. Over the stretch from December into January the Bears outscored their opponents by a 52–22 margin. The Bears also set a new AHL record for consecutive home victories at 24. Hershey went without a loss at GIANT Center from November 29, 2009 to March 19, 2010. Hershey has set an AHL mark for consecutive playoff series victories, with eight wins in a row. Besting the record shared with the 2005–2007 Bears and the 1990–1992 Springfield Indians.
2006 Calder Cup Championship
In 2006 the Hershey Bears, with new head coach Bruce Boudreau, returned to the playoffs after a two-year absence. The team came off with a strong start by winning their first two series, against the Norfolk Admirals and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in four games each. In the Eastern Conference finals, the Bears played the Portland Pirates. The Bears quickly took a 2–0 series lead, but then lost the third game. The Bears then rebounded and won game four, to take a 3–1 series lead. However the Bears were unable to finish the job and were forced back to the Giant Center for game seven. The Bears trailed throughout the game, but managed to tie it with a goal from Graham Mink just over two minutes remaining. In overtime, the Bears finished with a goal by Eric Fehr, to win the series 4–3. On June 15, 2006, The Bears won the Calder Cup by a series mark of 4–2, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals. This marked the ninth time the franchise had won the Calder Cup, which tied Hershey with the original Cleveland Barons for the highest number of AHL playoff titles.
The following season, Boudreau's Bears finished with a 51–17–6 record and appeared to be on the verge of repeating as champions. They rolled through the playoffs defeating Albany in five games, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in five, and won the Eastern Conference in a sweep of Manchester. The Bears appeared to have a tenth title wrapped up against Hamilton, who had finished the regular season with 95 points compared to Hershey's 114. The Bulldogs, however, upset the Bears 4–1. The next season was disappointing to the Bears – Boudreau was promoted to head coach of the Capitals, and the Bears would finish the season 42–30–2–6, losing to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 4–1 in the first round.
The next season, the Bears bounced back. Finishing with 49–23–2 record, they would go on to sweep the Philadelphia Phantoms in the first round, overcome a 3–2 deficit to beat Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the second, and then defeated Providence, 4–1, in the Conference Finals. They opened their 21st Calder Cup appearance with a 5–4 overtime win over the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg, but lost Game 2, 3–1. Back home in Hershey, the Bears scored a pair of wins (3–0 and 2–1) before falling in Game 5, 3–2. In Game 6, the Bears scored 3 goals before Manitoba even got on the board, and then an empty-net goal sealed it. With the 4–1 Game 6 victory the Bears defeated Manitoba and finally scored their league-record tenth Calder Cup.
Following the Calder Cup win, head coach Bob Woods was promoted to Washington as an assistant coach. He was replaced by Mark French, a former coach in the ECHL. The 2009–10 Bears won a franchise-record 12 consecutive games and notched a 24-game win streak at the Giant Center. They went on to win 60 games, breaking the old AHL record of 57 and finishing a point shy of tying the single-season points record. The Bears rallied from a 2-0 deficit against the Texas Stars to win their 11th Calder Cup, their second consecutive championship and third in the last five seasons.
Logos and Uniforms
The colors of the Hershey Bears are burgundy, black, gold, and silver (though the team's primary colors are often referred to as "chocolate and white"), a reference to The Hershey Company and its products. The primary logo is a maroon bear, outlined in black, swatting a hockey puck centered below the Hershey Bears wordmark. The wordmark is a horizontal gradient using gold and burgundy outlined in black, with the Hershey part centered on a rectangular outline designed to resemble a Hershey's candy bar. The alternate logo consists of a bear's head in burgundy and black with the initials "HB."
Before their move to the GIANT Center in 2002, the Hershey Bears wore simpler uniforms with the colors of chocolate brown and white. The previous logo used a silhouette of a skating bear with a hockey stick in brown centered in a white, ovular shield outlined in brown.
In the advent of the 2007–2008 season, all of the teams of the American Hockey League unveiled newly designed Reebok EDGE uniforms, including the Hershey Bears. At this time they unveiled an updated version of the "old school" jerseys with the work BEARS written diagonally in Black on a white home jersey and the word HERSHEY written in white on a maroon away jersey. Both jerseys featured black on both sides, the Washington Capitals logo on one shoulder and the classic "skating bear' oval logo on the other shoulder.
The current home and road uniforms were unveiled before the 2009-2010 season. The home uniform includes a white jersey with alternating burgundy and black horizontal stripes and burgundy shoulders. The Bears' primary logo is centered on the front. The shoulder logos include the Washington Capitals' logo and the "HB" secondary logo. The away jersey is burgundy with white shoulders and black horizontal stripes near the bottom of the sweater. The 2009-2010 3rd jersey featured the same color/striping pattern as the home jersey, but no logo was present on the main body of the jersey. Instead the word 'HERSHEY' was across the chest and the player's number was under the word Hershey.
The current version third jersey is a throwback jersey in chocolate brown, with white horizontal stripes. It has no shoulder patches, but features the historic "Skating Bear" logo with the word "HERSHEY" across the chest.
The Hershey Bears' official mascot is an anthropomorphic, brown bear named Coco. He wears the team's home jersey with a white hockey helmet. Coco the Bear debuted on October 14, 1978 at the Hersheypark Arena. His name alludes to the cocoa bean, from which Hershey's chocolate is derived. Coco's favorite book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and his favorite movie is the original 1971 film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
|Season||Prelim||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||Finals|
|2005–06||—||W, 4–0, NOR||W, 4–0, WBS||W, 4–3, PORT||W, 4–2, MIL|
|2006–07||—||W, 4–1, ALB||W, 4–1, WBS||W, 4–0, MAN||L, 1–4, HAM|
|2007–08||—||L, 1–4, WBS||—||—||—|
|2008–09||—||W, 4–0, PHI||W, 4–3, WBS||W, 4–1, PRO||W, 4–2, MTB|
|2009–10||—||W, 4–1, BRI||W, 4–0, ALB||W, 4–2, MAN||W, 4–2, TEX|
|2010–11||—||L, 2-4, CHA||–||–||–|
|2011–12||—||L, 2-3, WBS||–||–||–|