Hershey Bears 2016 Playoffs Final Thoughts

Posted June 13, 2016
Hershey Bears

This past Saturday, the Hershey Bears saw their 2016 Calder Cup run come to an end in a four-game sweep. Lake Erie scored in OT to bring the Calder Cup to Cleveland for the first time since 1964. Some may say this was a failure for the Bears, but skeptics also predicted a second round exit for the Chocolate and White. The Bears proved them wrong.

The Bears’ playoff road was not easy by any means. They needed to get through the Portland Pirates and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (the Bears’ biggest rivals), and the top team in the AHL, the Toronto Marlies. When the series against the Marlies was announced, many predicted the Bears to lose in five games. Instead, they took down the Marlies in five games to wrap-up the Eastern Conference Title, and a spot in the Calder Cup Finals for the first time since the 2009-2010 season.

Waiting in the wings were the Lake Erie Monsters. In the series leading up to the Calder Cup finals, the Monsters had only dropped two games in the playoffs and were riding a five-game win streak coming into game one against Hershey. It was apparent from the opening puck drop in Game 1 that the Monsters were big, fast and physical. In the first two games of the series, the Bears’ defense struggled to keep the Monsters at bay. After dropping the first two games at home, the Bears would head to Cleveland for the next games in the series. The last time the Bears dropped the first two games at home in the finals, they ended up winning the Calder Cup (2010 over Texas Stars).

Unfortunately, this would not be the case for the Bears this season. Cleveland would win the next two games to sweep the Bears and hoist the cup on their home ice.

Was this season a failure? Absolutely not! The Bears outperformed the expectations of many and showed they are a team that shouldn’t be doubted. The combination of the veteran leadership and rookie talent was a great mix for the success they had in the regular and post season. With the young talent that will be returning next year, plus the expected promotion of goalie Vitek Vanecek from South Carolina, the Bears will be in great shape.

Overall, the Bears silenced a lot of doubters in their 2016 playoff run, and did so with style. Would it have been nice to win the Cup? Absolutely. The entire team should be proud of the accomplishments and strides they made this season together and use this finals loss as motivation to get back there next season. There are only 109 more days until October and another Hershey Bears season. Until then, all the players have earned a few months of rest and relaxation before they start gearing up for next year.

Defend The Den!