Wednesday, June 2, 2010
With Captain Helmer at the Helm, Bears Continue Smooth Sailing
BY JOHN SPARENBERG firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hershey Bears not only are the longest-tenured team in the American Hockey League, but they are also unquestionably the most successful, as they currently find themselves only four victories away from capturing their league record 11th Calder Cup.
One of the major factors in Hershey’s success throughout the years has been their ability to draw top-ranked talent to Chocolatetown, and mixed in among that “cream of the crop” talent has been a host of leaders.Current captain, Bryan Helmer, who also served in that role in last years Calder Cup winning season, has to be considered on of the best, as he is on the verge of leading the Bears to a second consecutive title.
“Hershey is the oldest franchise in the AHL so it’s got a lot of history and when you have that, it’s a good spot to play,” said Helmer. “The fan base here is unbelievable. The people support their team, and they expect a lot of their team. It’s good to have that little pressure on you.”
Although Hershey’s road to the finals has been a fairly smooth ride, they have had to overcome third period deficits on numerous occasions and have worked overtime to achieve seven of their triumphs, including Boyd Kane’s overtime winner against Manchester that propelled the Bears to the finals.
“It just shows how much character we have coming back in the third period like that. There wasn’t one guy in here after the second period tonight that thought we were going to lose,” said Helmer after the clinching game against Manchester. “We stay positive and it shows the character that we have in here, and it shows how much firepower we have in here.”
Boyd Kane, who returned to Hershey this season after departing for the Philadelphia Flyers organization after leading the Bears to the 2006 championship, has helped Helmer out in various ways this season, including a way that probably comes as a surprise to a majority of Bears’ fans.
“He leads by example, but he’s a vocal guy in the dressing room,” said Helmer of Kane. “He’s led two teams to the Calder Cup, and he has two rings to prove it. I always say there could be five or six guys on this team that could have the captaincy and he’s definitely one of them. He brings a lot and helps me a lot.”
It’s often said in sports, especially in hockey, that the toughest thing to do is not to win a championship, but to repeat as champions, and the Bears find themselves on the cusp of doing just that. According to Helmer, the key ingredient in that formula is the returning core of players from last season.
“If you look at the guys we have and the guys we got back, we got most of our team back from the Calder Cup team; when you can do that, you’re in pretty good shape. Things have worked out this season for us in the regular season and now in the playoffs. We’re right where we want to be, but we also know that we’ve got a little work ahead of us to accomplish that feat.”