The Hershey Bears have won the Calder Cup for the year 2023.

The Hershey Bears have won the Calder Cup for the year 2023.

The Hershey Bears have won the Calder Cup for the year 2023. After a 3-2 overtime victory over the Coachella Valley Firebirds in Game Seven, the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate won the Calder Cup for the first time in franchise history. Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre each scored two goals in regulation time. It was a thrilling conclusion when Mike Vecchione scored the game-winning goal at 16:19 of the first overtime.

With 45 saves, Hunter Shepard secured his 14th postseason victory. After the game, Shep was awarded the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the postseason’s most valuable player.

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AHL President and CEO Scott Howson presented Hershey captain Dylan McIlrath with the Calder Cup at Coachella Valley’s Acrisure Arena. The Bears have set a new AHL record with their tenth Calder Cup victory.

Cleveland’s victory against Pittsburgh in 1953 was the only previous occasion the Calder Cup Final went to extra time. The AHL Calder Cup Finals Game Seven is the longest in the series’ history.

The Bears finished the regular season with a record of 44-19-5-4, good for 97 points and fourth place in the league. Hershey finished 14-6 in the playoffs, sweeping the Hartford Wolf Pack in three games to win the Atlantic Division Final and eliminating the Rochester Americans in six games to win the Eastern Conference Championship.

The Hershey Bears won the following three games at home by a combined total of two goals despite Joey Daccord, the goaltender for the Firebirds, shutting them out and outscoring them 9-0 in the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals. Game Six was a 5-2 win for Coachella Valley over Hershey, but the Bears came back to win Game Seven.

Only four teams have ever come back from losing the first two games of the Calder Cup Finals to win the tournament. The 2023 Bears are the first team since the 2010 Bears to come back from a 2-0 deficit against the Texas Stars and win four straight games.

Todd Nelson, who previously won the Calder Cup with Grand Rapids in 2017, is now a two-time champion head coach. Nelson has joined previous Bears bench bosses Frank Mathers (3) and John Paddock (3) as the 12th head coach in league history to win multiple Calder Cups. Nelson is the third head coach in league history, along with Paddock and Fred “Bun” Cook, to win the Cup with two separate teams.

Connor McMichael (6) and Joe Snively (15) paced the Hershey Bears in goals and points, respectively. They won because everyone on the team chipped in.

Mike Vecchione remarked earlier in the playoffs, “You look at any championship team; you have depth and everyone’s producing, and you’re seeing that from this team.” Everyone is just going out there and playing for each other, and it’s paying off for everyone. This has been happening all season: if one line is struggling, another will step up to carry the team. The locker room is like one big family; everyone supports each other, and that’s why we’re having so much fun.

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