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AHL Eastern Conference Finals Preview: Hershey Bears v. Manchester Monarchs

Since clinching their spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference Finals by sweeping the Albany River Rats on April 29th, the Hershey Bears have had nothing to do but wait to see who their next round opponent would be.  This past Friday, the Manchester Monarchs (the AHL affiliate of the LA Kings) punched their ticket to the next round by defeating the Worcester Sharks, 2-1 in overtime of Game Six. Following a 2-3-2 format, the best of seven series get underway Wednesday night at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania before heading to Manchester, New Hampshire the following week.

Click to see the schedule and key notes!

Schedule:

Game 1: Wednesday, May 12th – Manchester at Hershey – 7pm – Giant Center
Game 2: Saturday, May 15th – Manchester at Hershey – 7pm – Giant Center
Game 3: Monday, May 17th – Hershey at Manchester – 7pm – Verizon Wireless Arena
Game 4: Tuesday, May 18th – Hershey at Manchester – 7pm – Verizon Wireless Arena
*Game 5: Thursday, May 20th – Hershey at Manchester – 7pm – Verizon Wireless Arena
*Game 6: Saturday, May 22nd – Manchester at Hershey – 7pm – Giant Center
*Game 7: Sunday, May 23rd – Manchester at Hershey – 5pm – Giant Center

Regular Season Meetings:
October 11, 2009: Manchester defeated Hershey in Hershey, final score 2–1.
November 7th, 2009: Hershey defeated Manchester in Manchester, final score 4–1. 

Manchester finished the regular season 3rd in the Atlantic Division with 43 wins, 28 losses, 3 OT losses, and 6 SO losses for 95 points.
Hershey finished the regular season 1st in the AHL, Eastern Conf, and East Division with 60 wins and 17 losses, 0 OT losses, and 3 SO losses for 123 points.

Ones to Watch:
Manchester: Goalie Jonathan Bernier is currently the best goalie in the AHL playoffs.  He’s won 8 of his 10 games played, has allowed only 15 goals on 311 shots, and has 2 shut outs in the 2010 playoffs.  Bernier currently has a .952 save percentage. 

Hershey: Right Wing Andrew Gordon has really turned it up for the post-season.  In his 9 games played Gordon has scored 9 goals and 5 assists for 14 points.  He’s a +6, and has only been in the sin bin once.  Disciplined, smart hockey is the core of A. Gordon’s game, and he’s done a great job showing that so far in the 2010 playoffs. 

Noteworthy:
4 of the top 5 scorers in the AHL 2010 playoffs are Hershey Bears, despite sitting idle since April 29th.
1st – Alex Giroux, 10 goals and 7 assists in 9 games
2nd – Chris Bourque,4 goals and 11 assists in 9 games
3rd – Andrew Gordon (as mentioned above)
4th – The Texas Stars’ Jamie Benn, 7 goals and 6 assists in 10 games
5th – Keith Aucoin, 1 goal and 12 assists in 9 games. 

These teams have met in the Eastern Conference finals before- and as recent as May of 2007. The Hershey Bears swept the Monarchs to advance to the Calder Cup Finals, before falling to the Hamilton Bulldogs (backstopped by Carey Price), 4 games to 1.

Bruce Boudreau was the first coach of the Manchester Monarchs.  He led the team until his termination at the end of the 2004-2005 season.  After being fired from the Kings’ affiliate, he landed a job coaching the Hershey Bears and led them to the Calder Cup in 2006.  Other notable former Monarchs with Capitals’ ties?  David Steckel and Joe Corvo.

Need another reason to root against the Monarchs? The Montreal Canadiens’ Mike Cammalleri (also known as the bane of the Caps’ postseason) holds the Monarchs’ single season records for goals (46), assists (63) and points (109) – each set during the 2004-05 season. One other four-letter word to Caps fans, Cristobal Huet, also got his start with Manchester.

Coming up to Hershey?
Tickets are on sale at the Giant Center Box Office.  You can order by phone at 717-508-BEAR.  Tickets are also available on ticketmaster.com.  If you’re making a weekend of it, Hersheypark is open 10am to 10pm on Saturday and 10am to 8pm on Sunday.  Also remember that the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey is still offering an $89.00 rate for Caps fans coming up to Hershey to see the Bears during their playoff run.  Just call the hotel at 717-564-5511, ask for in-house reservations, and then for the Hershey Bears’ Fan rate. Tell ‘em Rock the Red sent ya!

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