The Hershey Bears are a professional ice hockey team playing in the American Hockey League. The team is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA. Home games are played at the GIANT Center. Hershey is the longest-existing member club in the AHL, joining the league in 1938, and played their 5,000th game December 20, 2006.
The Hershey Bears hockey club is owned by the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company (HERCO), formerly known as Hershey Estates, an entity wholly owned and administered by the Hershey Trust Company.
The history of the AHL Hershey Bears Hockey Club (also popularly known as the "Chocolate & White") goes back to a series of amateur hockey matches played in Hershey between college teams beginning in early 1931. The first such formal hockey game ever played in Hershey took place on February 18, 1931, when Penn A.C. and Villanova faced off in the 1,900-seat Hershey Ice Palace. Nine months after that successful inaugural contest, Swarthmore Athletic Club moved into the Ice Palace as its home ice where they played their first game on November 19, 1931, against Crescent A.C. of New York City. (In the lineup that night for Crescent was 23-year old center Lloyd S. Blinco, a native of Grand Mere, Quebec, who came to Hershey the next year and would remain continuously associated with Hershey hockey for a half century as a player, coach, and manger).
The popularity of these amateur hockey matches prompted chocolate maker and amusement park operator Milton S. Hershey and his long time entertainment and amusements chief, John B. Sollenberger, to sponsor a permanent team in 1932-33 called the Hershey B'ars which joined the newly formed Tri-State Hockey League with Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Atlantic City. After one season that circuit reformed itself into a larger, seven-club loop called the Eastern Amateur Hockey League in which Hershey played first as the "Chocolate B'ars" (1933-34), then again as the "B'ars" (1934-36), and finally in 1936 as the "Hershey Bears," a name they adopted in response to criticism levied by New York sportswriters and the league that the "B'ars" moniker was too commercial. (These writers had already informally dubbed the club as the "Bears from Penn's Woods" when they visited Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rovers.)
On December 19, 1936, the newly renamed Bears also moved from the confines of the World War I-era Ice Palace (where they had to play on a small 60x170 foot rink) into the newly constructed 7,286-seat Hersheypark Arena (then known as the "Hershey Sports Arena") built immediately adjacent to the older venue. Over the next sixty-six seasons the Bears played a remarkable total of 2,280 regular season and playoff games at the Arena which served as their home from 1936 to 2002 before moving a few hundred yards further west to the new 10,500-seat GIANT Center at the start of the 2002-2003 season.
In 1938-39 the Bears became the eighth member of the newly formed International-American Hockey League (renamed the American Hockey League in 1940) which was created on the June 28, 1938, by the formal merger of the International and the Canadian-American (Can-Am) Hockey Leagues after those two smaller circuits had played interlocking schedules with each other over the previous two seasons. Although four of the seven other I-AHL charter member cities (Springfield, Syracuse, Providence, and Philadelphia) are also represented in the AHL today (2006-2007), only the Bears have played in the league without interruption since that inaugural 1938-39 I-AHL season.
In the mid 1950s The Hershey Bears/Boston Bruins signed a young high school kid playing in the OHA at the time, Donald Stewart Cherry. Cherry's first NHL game was in the 54-55 season when Boston called him up for a playoff game. Don Cherry went on playing for another 20 years before becoming a coach and then the popular comentator for CBC's Hockey Night in Canada that many know him for today. During the three seasons Cherry played for the Bears, from 1954-55 to the 1956-57 season, he racked up 424 penalty mins, 15 goals, and 55 assists.
The Washington Capitals returned as the Bears NHL parent club in 2005 after a 21 year span where Hershey had been affiliated with the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, and Colorado Avalanche. (The club has also had earlier NHL affiliations with the Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres). The Bears are presently tied with the original Cleveland Barons for the most Calder Cup championships (9). Their most recent championship was in 2005-06 versus the Milwaukee Admirals.
On December 20, 2006 the Bears played the club’s 5,000th regular season game at the Pepsi Arena in Albany, NY. The Bears scored seven times en route to a 7-4 win versus the Albany River Rats.
On May 2, 2007 the Bears played their 500th Calder Cup playoff game in franchise history at GIANT Center. The Bears played the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and won 4-3.
Hershey has tied an AHL mark for consecutive series victories with seven playoff series wins in a row. The record is now shared with the 2005-07 Bears and the 1990-1992 Springfield Indians.
The colors of the Hershey Bears are burgundy, black, and gold, a reference to the colors used by The Hershey Company to brand their products. The primary logo is a maroon bear, outlined in black, swatting a hockey puck centered below the Hershey Bears wordmark. The wordmark is a horizontal gradient using gold and burgundy outlined in black, with the Hershey part centered on a rectangular outline designed to resemble a Hershey's candy bar. The alternate logo consists of a bear's head in burgundy and black with the initials "HB."
Before their move to the GIANT Center in 2002, the Hershey Bears wore simpler uniforms with the colors of chocolate brown and white. The previous logo used a silhouette of a skating bear with a hockey stick in brown centered in a white, ovular shield outlined in brown.
In the advent of the 2007-2008 season, all of the teams of the American Hockey League unveiled newly designed Reebok EDGE uniforms, including the Hershey Bears. The home uniform includes a white jersey with black side panels, maroon trim around the collar, black piping outlining the shoulders, and striping around the cuffs in the colors burgundy, black, and gold. The word "Bears" is centered on the front of the jersey in a traditional, descending formation in black, capital letters outlined in gold. The shoulder logos include the Washington Capitals logo and the former Bears logo. The away jersey is burgundy with black side panels, black piping outlining the shoulders, white trim around the collar, white sleeve stripes, and black cuffs. The chest includes the word "Hershey" in the traditional, descending formation in white, capital letters outlined in black. Both home and away uniforms include the 70th anniversary logo centered on the left-side chest for the 2007-2008 season.
In 2006 the Hershey Bears, with new head coach Bruce Boudreau, returned to the playoffs after a 2 year absence. The team came off with a strong start by winning their first two series, against the Norfolk Admirals and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 4 games each. In the Eastern Conference Finals, The Bears played the Portland Pirates. The Bears quickly took a 2-0 series lead, but then lost the third game. The Bears then rebounded and won game four, to take a 3-1 series lead. However the Bears were unable to finish the job and were forced back to the GIANT Center for game seven. The Bears trailed throughout the game, but managed to tie it with a goal from Graham Mink just over two minutes remaining. Then in OT, the Bears finished the job off a goal by Eric Fehr, to win the series 4-3. On June 15, 2006, The Bears won the Calder Cup by a series mark of 4-2, defeating the Milwaukee Admirals. This marked the ninth time the franchise had won the Calder Cup which tied Hershey with the original Cleveland Barons for the most times winning the AHL's playoff title.
|Season||Prelim||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||Finals|
|1940–41||—||W, 2-0, NH||W, 2-1, PIT||—||L, 2-3, CLE|
|1941–42||—||W, 2-0, NH||W, 2-1, CLE||—||L, 2-3, IND|
|1942–43||—||L, 2-4, BUF||—||—||—|
|1943–44||—||L, 3-4, CLE||—||—||—|
|1944–45||—||W, 4-1, IND||bye||—||L, 2-4, CLE|
|1945–46||—||L, 1-2, PIT||—||—||—|
|1946–47||—||W, 4-0, CLE||bye||—||W, 4-3, PIT|
|1947–48||—||L, 1-2, BUF||—||—||—|
|1948–49||—||W, 2-0, IND||W, 2-0, CLE||—||L, 3-4, PROV|
|1949–50||Out of Playoffs|
|1950–51||—||W, 3-0, IND||L, 0-3, PIT||—||—|
|1951–52||—||L, 1-4, PIT||—||—||—|
|1952–53||—||L, 0-3, PIT||—||—||—|
|1953–54||—||W, 3-2, PIT||—||—||L, 2-3, CLE|
|1954–55||Out of Playoffs|
|1955–56||Out of Playoffs|
|1956–57||—||L, 3-4, CLE||—||—||—|
|1957–58||—||W, 4-1, PROV||—||—||W, 4-2, SPR|
|1958–59||—||W, 4-3, CLE||—||—||W, 4-2, BUF|
|1959–60||Out of Playoffs|
|1960–61||—||W, 3-1, BUF||—||—||L, 0-4, SPR|
|1961–62||—||W, 2-1, PROV||L, 1-3, BUF||—||—|
|1962–63||—||W, 2-1, BALT||W, 3-2, CLE||—||L, 3-4, BUF|
|1963–64||—||W, 2-1, PROV||L, 0-3, CLE||—||—|
|1964–65||—||W, 3-2, BALT||W, 3-2, BUF||—||L, 1-4, ROCH|
|1965–66||—||L, 0-3, SPR||—||—||—|
|1966–67||—||L, 1-4, PIT||—||—||—|
|1967–68||—||L, 1-4, ROCH||—||—||—|
|1968–69||—||W, 4-2, BUF||bye||—||W, 4-1, QUE|
|1969–70||—||L, 3-4, SPR||—||—||—|
|1970–71||—||L, 1-3, CLE||—||—||—|
|1971–72||—||L, 0-4, CIN||—||—||—|
|1972–73||—||L, 3-4, VIR||—||—||—|
|1973–74||—||W, 4-1, CIN||W, 4-0, BALT||—||W, 4-1, PROV|
|1974–75||—||W, 4-3, RICH||L, 1-4, NH||—||—|
|1975–76||—||bye||W, 4-1, RICH||—||L, 1-4, NS|
|1976–77||—||L, 2-4, NS||—||—||—|
|1977–78||Out of Playoffs|
|1978–79||—||L, 1-3, BING||—||—||—|
|1979–80||—||W, 4-0, SYR||W, 4-2, NH||—||W, 4-2, NB|
|1980–81||—||W, 4-0, NH||L, 2-4, ADIR||—||—|
|1981–82||—||L, 2-3, BING||—||—||—|
|1982–83||—||L, 1-4, NH||—||—||—|
|1983–84||Out of Playoffs|
|1984–85||Out of Playoffs|
|1985–86||—||W, 4-1, NH||W, 4-3, StC||—||L, 2-4, ADIR|
|1986–87||—||L, 1-4, ROCH||—||—||—|
|1987–88||—||W, 4-0, BING||W, 4-0, ADIR||—||W, 4-0, FRED|
|1988–89||—||W, 4-1, UTI||L, 3-4, ADIR||—||—|
|1989–90||Out of Playoffs|
|1990–91||W, 14-4, ADIR||L, 1-4, ROCH||—||—||—|
|1991–92||—||L, 2-4, ROCH||—||—||—|
|1992–93||Out of Playoffs|
|1993–94||—||W, 4-0, ROCH||L, 3-4, CORN||—||—|
|1994–95||—||L, 2-4, CORN||—||—||—|
|1995–96||—||L, 2-3, BALT||—||—||—|
|1996–97||—||W, 3-1, KEN||W, 4-3, PHIL||W, 4-3, SPR||W, 4-1, HAM|
|1997–98||—||W, 3-0, KEN||L, 0-4, PHIL||—||—|
|1998–99||—||L, 2-3, KEN||—||—||—|
|1999–00||—||W, 3-2, PHIL||W, 4-1, KEN||L, 0-4, ROCH||—|
|2000–01||—||W, 3-0, KEN||W, 4-1, NOR||L, 0-4, WBS||—|
|2001–02||—||W, 3-1, NOR||L, 0-4, HOU||—||—|
|2002–03||—||L, 2-3, CHI||—||—||—|
|2003–04||Out of Playoffs|
|2004–05||Out of Playoffs|
|2005–06||—||W, 4-0, NOR||W, 4-0, WBS||W, 4-3, PORT||W, 4-2, MIL|
|2006–07||—||W, 4-1 ALB||W, 4-1, WBS||W, 4-0, MAN||L, 1-4, HAM|
|2007–08||—||L, 1-4, WBS||—||—||—|