(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)
At times, it feels like any season in Hershey that doesn’t culminate with the club hoisting the Calder Cup is a failure. Over the past decade, the Bears have made it to the finals in four seasons and taken home three Calder Cups to give them 11 overall, the most in league history.
After a disappointing 2013-14 in which they missed the post-season, the Bears bounced back in 2014-15 to not only make it to the playoffs but advance to the second round by defeating the Worcester Sharks 3-1 in the best-of-five playoff opener.
The turnaround in Hershey this off-season has been plentiful, however. Of their top-10 scorers in 2014-15, the top four are all gone. Tim Kennedy and Casey Wellman signed in the KHL, while Chris Conner and Kris Newbury are heading elsewhere in the AHL next season. They’ve also lost Tomas Kundratek to the KHL and Jim O’Brien to the New Jersey Devils organization.
However, few teams got the boost in the off-season that Hersey did. In their lineup next season, they’ll have Chris Bourque (29 goals, 66 points in 2014-15), Carter Camper (15 goals, 52 points), Sean Collins (17 goals, 36 points) and Paul Carey (15 goals, 34 points), as well as defensemen Taylor Chorney (four goals, 19 points) and Aaron Ness (eight goals, 45 points). All but Chorney would have been top-10 scorers in Hershey this past season, and Chorney barely misses the cut.
Youngsters Jakub Vrana, Riley Barber, Chris Brown and Stanislav Galiev also project to have great seasons in 2015-16, while Bears fans must also be excited about the potential for defenseman Madison Bowey to step in and make an impact.
In goal, veteran Dan Ellis has come in to help carry the workload alongside Justin Peters.
Last year Hershey was out in the second round, but there’s reason to be confident in the club’s ability to best that performance this season. Read more