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Bears set wins record, clinch first overall

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The Hershey Bears set an all-time American Hockey League record with their 58th win of the season on Saturday night, and in the process captured the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the American Hockey League’s 2009-10 regular-season points champion.

The Bears (58-15-0-3, 119 points) surpassed the record of 57 wins held by the 1992-93 Binghamton Rangers. Saturday’s victory was also Hershey’s 33rd of the season on home ice, tying an AHL record. And with four games still left to play, the Bears are five points shy of the 1992-93 Rangers’ all-time record of 124 points in a season.

The Bears had already claimed the F.G. (Teddy) Oke Trophy as the East Division champions, as well as the Frank S. Mathers Trophy as the regular-season champions of the Eastern Conference.

Under rookie head coach Mark French, the Bears have won their third East Division crown and their second Kilpatrick Trophy in four years, and will be bidding for their third Calder Cup title in the last five seasons. Hershey will have home-ice advantage for as long as they are in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs.

The Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy, which was instituted in 1997, honors the late Macgregor Kilpatrick, a member of the AHL Board of Governors for 27 years and a 2010 inductee into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. Kilpatrick also served as the AHL’s senior vice president and general counsel during his tenure, and earned the James C. Hendy Award in 1976 as the league’s outstanding executive.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6.5 million fans per season have attended AHL games across North America since 2001. Over the past 74 years, the AHL has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.