Chocolatetown is Titletown once again

MILWAUKEE, Wis. ( … A three-goal outburst in the first period was more than enough as the Hershey Bears captured the American Hockey League’s 2006 Calder Cup championship with a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Admirals at the Bradley Center on Thursday night.

The Bears, top development team of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, defeated the Admirals four games to two to win their ninth AHL title – tying the original Cleveland Barons for the most in league history – and their first since 1997. Hershey’s Game 6 lineup included 14 players who spent time in the NHL with the Capitals during the 2005-06 season.

Frederic Cassivi made 25 saves in the decisive Game 6 and finished the playoffs with a record of 16-5 with a 2.10 goals-against average, a .931 save percentage and four shutouts. Cassivi, who tied an AHL record for wins in a postseason, earned the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Just as they did in their previous three victories in the series, the Bears burst out of the gate and dominated the first period. Joey Tenute (2:00) and Jakub Klepis (5:53) scored on long shots to chase starting goalie Pekka Rinne, and Brooks Laich buried a power-play marker at the 12:38 mark to give Hershey a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.

The Bears outscored Milwaukee by a 13-0 margin in the first period of their four Finals wins.

Colin Forbes made it 4-0 early in the second and from there the Bears cruised to their 16th win in 21 playoff matches.

Kris Beech, who played 48 games with Milwaukee during the 2005-06 regular season, scored the final goal of the season in the third period, his team-leading 14th of the playoffs and sixth of the Finals series.

Darren Haydar had the Admirals’ only goal of the night, and finished atop the AHL playoff leaderboard with 18 goals and 35 points.

Hershey scored five goals in 12 of its 21 postseason contests, and led the AHL in offense (4.00 goals per game) and defense (2.23 goals per game) during the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Head coach Bruce Boudreau, one of the AHL’s all-time scoring leaders, led the Bears to the title in his first season behind the Hershey bench.

For the second year in a row, AHL president and CEO David Andrews presented the Calder Cup trophy to Bears captain Boyd Kane. Kane was the captain of the 2005 champion Philadelphia Phantoms as well, and becomes the 17th player in AHL history to win titles in back-to-back seasons with two different clubs.

Tomas Fleischmann was the Bears’ leading scorer in the playoffs with 32 points (11 goals, 21 assists), while Kris Beech led the way with 14 goals. Defenseman Mike Green, a member of the AHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2005-06, recorded 18 points and a plus-16 rating in 21 postseason matches.

Hershey’s victory brings the curtain down on the AHL’s historic 70th-anniversary season. Over 82 percent of all National Hockey League players in 2005-06 were AHL graduates, and more than 370 players appeared in both leagues this season alone.

Click here for a list of previous Calder Cup champions.