Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins on winning the Stanley Cup. You can call it sweet revenge as the Pens defeat the Detroit Red Wings on their ice a year after they lost the Cup on their ice. Boy, did Marion Hossa turn out to be a bad penny. Evgeni Malkin wins MVP honors (the first Russian to do so), although they should have given it to Max Talbot for his clutch goals in the finals or Rob Scuderi for his goaltending prowess.
However (and even more importantly), congratulations to the Hershey Bears on winning their tenth AHL championship last night. They beat the Manitoba Moose on their ice 4-1 to close out the series 4 games to two and hoisting the Calder Cup. Again, the Capitals top development team wins a championship, their second in four years.
Michal Neuvirth earned MVP honors as he posted a 16-6 record with only a 1.19 GAA, a .932 save percentage and four shutouts in the playoffs. He was the big reason for the Bears' championship run, not bad for a player that started the season in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays. In game six he made 24 stops on 25 shots by the Moose. Neuvirth makes the Capitals extremely deep in the goaltending department with Semyon Varlamov, Jose Theodore, Brent Johnson (if the Caps decide to resign him) and a few other prospects.
The Bears got off to a great start in the first, putting the Moose up against a wall with a 3-0 lead in the opening period. Goals by Andrew Gordon, Chris Bourque and Alex Giroux. It was Giroux's playoff leading 15th goal, 28th point. The Moose were able to get a goal in the second, but the Bears held their 3-1 lead through half of the second period and through the third, eventually icing the game with an empty netter scored by Keith Aucoin.
The tandem of Stephan Kronwall and Dean Arsene lead to both players getting a +3 on the game, the Bears' best. Bourque had a goal and an assist as well as the game's number one star. Kyle Wilson had a pair of assists and also was the game's number 3 star.
The last time the Bears won the Calder Cup, many of those players went on to make the Capitals' squad: Mike Green, David Steckel, Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich, Tomas Fleischmann and Boyd Gordon (you could include Jakub Klepis in that list before he went off to play in the KHL). The Bears beat the the Milwaukee Admirals 4 games to two in that series as well. In their game 6 they also jumped up to a 3-0 lead in the first period and went on to win the game 5-1.
Bob Woods, rumored to be in the hunt for Jay Leach's old job, took the Bears to the promise land in just his second year at the helm. He also lead them to a Eastern Conference best 53-22-2-3 record finishing with 111 points.
Highlights of the Bears record breaking tenth AHL championship can be found here. Bryan Helmer, the Bears' captain accepted the Calder Cup along with assistant captains Aucoin and Quintin Laing.
The state of Pennsylvania has to be beaming with pride as they have won two hockey championships (Penguins: Stanley Cup, Bears: Calder Cup), a NHL championship (Steelers) and a MLB championship (Phillies). Pretty impressive in the same year. Now can we stop with all the "Boo hoo, PA teams never win" crap.