Bears go back-to-back, win 11th Calder Cup

HERSHEY, Pa. … The Hershey Bears completed the most successful season in American Hockey League by capturing the 2010 Calder Cup championship with a 4-0 win over the Texas Stars at Giant Center in Hershey on Monday night.

The Bears, the top development team of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, become the first team to repeat as Calder Cup champions since 1991, winning the title for the third time in the last five years and extending their own league record with their 11th overall championship.

Hershey defeated the Stars four games to two, becoming the first team in AHL history to win the Calder Cup after losing the first two games of the Finals series on home ice. The Bears also set a record with eight overtime victories during the 2010 postseason, and finished with a 16-5 playoff mark after winning a league-record 60 games in the regular season (60-17-0-3). Under first-year head coach Mark French, the Bears eliminated the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (4-1), Albany River Rats (4-0) and Manchester Monarchs (4-2) before defeating Texas in the Finals. The Bears’ 2010 playoff roster featured 11 players who appeared in the NHL with the parent Capitals this season.

Bears forward Chris Bourque won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, finishing with a league-leading 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 21 games. The 24-year-old Boston native and son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque turned pro in 2005 and has played five seasons in Hershey, making four Finals appearances and winning three Calder Cups.

The Bears, who clinched the Cup on home ice for the first time since 1980, came out with a bang, outshooting Texas 17-4 in the opening period and outscoring them 2-0. Rookie defenseman John Carlson buried the rebound of an Alexandre Giroux shot on the power play at 12:29, and Carlson’s defensive partner Karl Alzner sent a blast home from the left circle just 1:54 later to make it 2-0.

Defenseman Patrick McNeill provided his insurance for Hershey, scoring once apiece in the second and third periods, as the Bears received all four of their goals on the night from rearguards. Giroux, who totaled 110 goals over the past two regular-seasons, finished with two assists in the championship-clincher.

Hershey goaltender Michal Neuvirth was sensational in net, finishing with 22 saves – 10 in the third period alone – for his first shutout of the 2010 postseason. The 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs MVP, Neuvirth wrapped up these playoffs at 14-4 (2.07, .920) in 18 appearances.

Attendance at Giant Center for Monday’s game was a franchise record 11,002 fans. All six games in the series were played before standing-room-only crowds in Hershey and Cedar Park.

Hershey’s victory brings the curtain down on the AHL’s 74th season. 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 this season marked the ninth consecutive year in which more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America.

2010 Calder Cup Finals – Series “O” (best-of-7)
E1-Hershey Bears vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Thu., June 3 – Texas 2, HERSHEY 1
Game 2 – Sat., June 5 – Texas 4, HERSHEY 3
Game 3 – Mon., June 7 – Hershey 6, TEXAS 3
Game 4 – Wed., June 9 – Hershey 4, TEXAS 2
Game 5 – Fri., June 11 – Hershey 2, TEXAS 1 (OT)
Game 6 – Mon., June 14 – HERSHEY 4, Texas 0