The Calder Cup Playoffs are finally here and the Hershey Bears Hockey Club for the eighth consecutive year will participate in the postseason dance. Beginning on April 26th, the Bears will kick off the 2013 Calder Cup Playoffs with a first round, best of five series in Providence, Rhode Island.
Providence finished with the top record in the American Hockey League, capped a 50 win season and ended the campaign on nine game winning streak. Since hosting the annual AHL All-Star Classic in late January, the entire Bruins roster soon became stars of the league.
Battle of the goaltenders:
If you are a fan of stellar goaltending, this series is not expected to disappoint. Since the conclusion of the NHL Lockout, Philipp Grubauer has quickly risen to the Bears’ top goalie posting a 15-8-2 record with two shutouts. But on the other side of the ring stands P-Bruins goaltending sensation Niklas Svedberg. The two netminders faced off twice during the regular season, both splitting a win per side. The scores of both games were a 3-2 final count. In the first season meeting on March 30, Grubauer stole the show making 37 saves en route to a Hershey victory at Giant Center.
Battle of the Past and Present:
Dressed in Providence yellow who once represented the Chocolate and White are Chris Bourque, Graham Mink and Christian Hanson. The Calder Cup Playoffs are a familiar territory to Bourque and Mink, who combine for a total of five Calder Cup Championship rings in their playing career for the Bears. However their might not be a Providence player more thrilled than Christian Hanson to play in this year’s postseason. Hanson, the former Bear was injured towards the back end of the 2011-12 regular season.
His injury carried into the first round of the postseason and sidelined him during Hershey’s five playoff battles against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Should the Bears have won game five last April against Wilkes-Barre, Hanson would have returned to the lineup for the series opener in the second round.
Bears-Bruins Playoff History
The Hershey Bears and Providence Bruins last met in postseason play during the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. Following a Bruins victory in the series opener, the following four games of the best of seven series bounced in Hershey’s favor. Four years later, Bourque and Mink will be on the opposite side of the ice for a best of five series.
Bruins to Watch:
Jamie Tardif has scored three goals in two games this season against the Chocolate and White. Chris Bourque and Graham Mink will be hungry to contribute on the score sheet against their former team. Through Graham Mink’s time in Hershey, many enjoyed watching Mink’s style of play, which involves standing in front of the oppositions net to screen the goaltender. It will be interesting to see how the Bears’ defense along with Grubauer cope with the challenge of facing Mink. Bourque will be facing Hershey as a member of the opposition for the first time. During the 2012-13 season, he was sidelined when the Bears and Bruins crossed pathways.
1. @ Providence Bruins- April 26, 7:05pm
2. @ Providence Bruins- April 28, 3:05pm
3. vs. Providence Bruins- May 4, 7:00pm
*4. vs. Providence Bruins- May 5, 5:00pm
*5. @ Providence Bruins- May 8, 7:05pm
*= If necessary