Friday night in the Eastern Conference finals of the OHL playoffs, the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers faced off in a game that London would win and eliminate the Whalers. On that Whalers team was Washington Capitals prospect, Tom Wilson.
After the loss, Wilson and teammate Connor Carrick were informed they were going to Chocolate town USA to join the Bears in their run at Calder Cup number 12.
On a night when the Chocolate and White punched their ticket to the 2013 Calder Cup playoffs, the players also accepted their awards for their accomplishments in a Bears uniform this season.
The Hershey Bears entered Binghamton on Saturday with an opportunity to clinch playoff berth with a win and out of town help. The out of town assistance was provided, but the Bears fell short in a 4-2 decision against the B-Sens. Out of town, both the Norfolk Admirals and Connecticut Whale lost in regulation to open the door for Hershey.
An hour south of Binghamton, the Manchester Monarchs won their battle against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to clinch the Eastern Conference’s seventh playoff position.
There is currently a three-way tie in points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Tied with 79 points each are the Connecticut Whale, Norfolk Admirals and Hershey Bears. The Whale rapped up their regular season with a 5-1 loss to the Portland Pirates. Both the Bears and Admirals have one game remaining and will finish the season Sunday.
With only one spot remaining and the regular season concluding Sunday evening, here are the playoff scenarios:
- Hershey clinches playoff spot with regulation/overtime/shootout win despite a Norfolk win in regulation/overtime/shootout or loss.
- Norfolk clinches postseason berth with regulation/overtime/shootout win AND Hershey regulation/overtime/shootout loss. They can also clinch with a overtime/shootout loss AND Hershey regulation loss.
- Connecticut reaches the postseason with Hershey regulation loss AND Norfolk regulation loss. The only way the Whale can reach the postseason is if the season ends with a three-way tie still intact.
It’s the home stretch of the 2012-13 regular season and the Hershey Bears entered Friday on the outside looking into the playoff picture. With the Norfolk Admirals, Connecticut Whale and Manchester Monarchs also in action, a pair of out of town losses combined with a Bears win could up rise Hershey back into playoff potential.
With a Connecticut 3-2 loss later followed by a Norfolk 6-1 road defeat, a bright light of opportunity shined on Hershey to make a rising dash in the standings. Rather than melting under the pressure of a must-win game, NHL Trade Deadline addition Michael Latta scored a late-game third period goal to give the Bears a 2-1 win over the Adirondack Phantoms.
Saturday night, American Hockey League history was made with Boyd Kane’s 500th career AHL point against the Manchester Monarchs. Kane became the 85th player in league history to reach the milestone. However, the memorable moment was soon spoiled, as Manchester came back to answer Hershey’s early scoring onslaught with a scoring parade of their own. The Monarchs tallied three goals in both the second and third period to down Hershey, 6-4.
The Hershey Bears looked to conclude a perfect weekend sweep against East Division teams on Sunday with a tilt against the Syracuse Crunch. It was the fourth meeting of the season between the Bears and Crunch with Hershey looking for their first victory against Tampa Bay Lightning’s top affiliate.
World Wrestling Entertainment legend Ric Flair often infamously said, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” Sunday evening the Bears beat the man of the Eastern Conference with a stunning 5-3 win over the top seeded Crunch.
The Hershey Bears looked to close out a strong weekend with back to back home wins against the Binghamton Senators and the Norfolk Admirals. A night after a hard fought win against the division leading Senators, the Bears rallied for three goals in the third period, but fell in the shootout, 4-3 to Norfolk.
The Hershey Bears entered Saturday with only one win out of four attempts this season against the Binghamton Senators. Philipp Grubauer faced the Senators in his first career AHL game back on October 21, and fell 2-1 in overtime. Looking for his first career win against the Senators, Grubauer yielded three, but topped Bingo 4-3.
The Hershey Bears battled the Manchester Monarchs at home for the first game in February. With playoff races weeks away from beginning and the Bears currently on the outside looking into the top eight teams in the conference, they looked for a bounce back effort against the the Monarchs. Martin Jones made 42 saves for Manchester, but the Bears squeaked past the Monarchs, 2-1.
It was a grand setting at Hersheypark Stadium on Sunday evening. Starting with a flurry of fireworks as the sun set on Central Pennsylvania, the Bears took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL Outdoor Classic. Despite the freezing cold, 17,311 packed the old stadium to see one of the league’s greatest rivalries get taken to another level. Frankly, I wish I had gotten my butt up there. Unfortunately for the Bears, though, it didn’t end in a victory.