Hershey Bears advance to 2023 Calder Cup Finals, capture Canning Trophy as

After failing to clinch at home in Game Five, the Hershey Bears defeated the Rochester Americans 1-0 to become Eastern Conference Champions at Blue Cross Arena on Friday. The Bears did so without their top goal-scorer (Ethen Frank), their top-line center (Michael Sgarbossa), and their top prospect defenseman (Vincent Iorio).

The Bears were presented the Richard F. Canning Trophy after exchanging handshakes with the Amerks at center ice. The Bears opted not to touch the trophy, instead taking a team photo near it.

This is the 24th time Hershey has advanced to the Calder Cup Finals — an AHL record. They will play the winner of the Western Conference Finals between the Coachella Valley Firebirds and Milwaukee Admirals. That series is currently tied 2-2.

The Bears eliminated the Amerks despite falling in Game One of the series. The Chocolate and White were humbled 5-1 at home, but won three straight after that, out-scoring Rochester 10-4 in the process. Hunter Shepard posted his first career postseason shutout in Game Two. Rochester delivered a 4-1 loss to the Bears in front of a sold out Giant Center during Game Five, but Shepard came up big again in Game Six, blanking the Amerks for a second time. Shane Gersich scored the series-winning goal.

The Bears have now won 10 of 13 games during the 2023 playoffs and all six of their road games.

The last time the Bears won the Eastern Conference crown was on May 29, 2016, when they defeated the Toronto Marlies 3-2 in Game Five at Ricoh Coliseum. Nathan Walker was credited with the game-winner while Christian Djoos and Liam O’Brien added goals of their own. The Bears held off a late comeback attempt by the Marlies which included tallies from William Nylander and Nikita Soshnikov.

The Bears would go on to be swept by the Lake Erie Monsters in the 2016 Calder Cup Finals.

Hershey will be looking to win the franchise’s 12th Calder Cup and their first under new head coach Todd Nelson, who won a Calder Cup win the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2017. The last time the Bears won a title was in 2010, going back-to-back in consecutive years.

Headline photo: Micheline Veluvolu/Rochester Americans

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Read More: Hershey Bears advance to 2023 Calder Cup Finals, capture Canning Trophy as 2023-06-03 01:52:30

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