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Bears bring back former Calder Cup champion Mink

The Hershey Bears announced today that right wing Graham Mink has been signed to a contract for the upcoming 2008-09 season by their NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals.

Mink, 29, returns to Hershey after spending the last two seasons with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks. He finished tied for second on the Sharks in 2007-08 with 55 points (24-31-55) in 71 games.

The Stowe, Vt., native set new career highs in goals (31), assists (32), and points (63) in 61 games during the 2006-07 campaign, his first in Worcester.

Mink spent the 2005-06 season with the Bears and tallied 40 points (21-19-40) in 43 regular-season games. He contributed 21 points (8-13-21) in 21 playoff games that year, which ended with the Bears capturing the Calder Cup championship.

"It feels like I’m coming home" Mink said. "We had so much success the year I was (in Hershey) and when you leave and don’t have that success, it makes you want it all the more. Being a part of a championship team is an honor, and it’s something that meant so much to me. It’s something you strive for and something you want."

Perhaps the biggest goal of Mink’s professional career came for the Bears in Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals against the Portland Pirates when he scored with 2:09 left in regulation to tie the game and force sudden-death overtime. Eric Fehr‘s eventual game-winner sent the Bears to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in nine years, where they defeated Milwaukee in six games to claim the title.

Entering his eighth professional season out of the University of Vermont, Mink has totaled 305 points (151-154-305) in 433 career AHL games for Portland, Hershey, and Worcester. He has five games of NHL experience, all with Washington.

Washington also re-signed defenseman Tyler Sloan on Wednesday. Sloan, 27, has spent the past two full seasons playing in the AHL for Hershey, totaling 19 points (3-16-19) in 124 games.

A Calgary native, Sloan dished out seven assists and had 30 penalty minutes in 17 games during the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs, helping the Bears to their second straight Finals appearance. The 6-3, 205-pound Sloan joined the Bears for two playoff games, recording one assist, as Hershey won the Calder Cup in 2006.

Sloan shows 30 points (7-23-30) and 313 penalty minutes in 252 career regular-season AHL games for Syracuse, Manitoba, and Hershey.