Saturday, 12 June 2010

I Am Hershey, Hear Me Roar

Apparently, the HBIC jinx is a lot like the "Madden curse" or the "Sports Illustrated Cover jinx". These seemingly affect one person or one team per year per league, and now I've developed that curse/jinx here on this very blog. It started with the Boston Bruins, who led the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 in their series before Philly rallied, and now it appears that I've cursed the Texas Stars by yapping about their impressive 2-0 lead over the Hershey Bears in the AHL Calder Cup Final. Instead of talking about how Texas is leading, the Stars find themselves down 3-2 after losing all three games at home, and are heading back to Hershey needing wins on the road.

Hershey eliminated the Manchester Monarchs in six games in the Eastern Conference Final on May 22. The Calder Cup Final against Texas didn't start until June 3. That means that the Hershey Bears had 12 days off between playoff rounds, and is probably a good reason why the Bears looked a little rusty at home where they had been 37-1 in their previous 38 games.

However, the two losses and the travel to the Lone Star State seemed to have lit a fire in the Bears' dressing room as their stars have come back to life and are filling the net once again. Hershey has doubled the Stars in each of their games at the Cedar Park Center, winning Game Three by a 6-3 score, Game Four by a 4-2 score, and Game Five in overtime by a 2-1 score.

Needless to say, let a sleeping bear lie. Otherwise, you have an angry, vicious, hungry bear on your hands, and no one likes dealing with an angry, vicious, hungry carnivore.

Alexandre Giroux's overtime goal in Game Five put the Bears up 3-2 as they head back to Pennsylvania looking to capture their second straight Calder Cup Championship, and eleventh Calder Cup in their history.

Having watched this Bears team play last season in the Calder Cup Final against Manitoba, it needs to be said that they are never out of a game or series until the final horn has sounded. While there has been some player moves in terms of new arrivals, the Bears play a phenomenal up-tempo, aggressive game, and they capitalize on mistakes with incredible efficiency.

I'll give Texas full credit in that they have played extremely well thus far. Game Five was a fabulous effort by the Stars team. Matt Climie made 41 saves - some of the extraordinary variety - and the Stars' defensive unit did a great job in clearing rebounds and keeping shooters to the outside for the majority of the evening. Giroux snapped a loose puck from the slot between Climie's legs for the overtime marker, his 14th of the postseason.

Again, a fabulous effort by the Stars, but they were thwarted by the relentless attack that the Bears threw at them. The Bears' defensive game cannot be overlooked either. Jamie Benn, the Stars' leading scorer in the playoffs, has been a non-factor in the last three games, and that's a testament to the excellent defensive play the Bears are exhibiting in their own zone.

I'm looking forward to Monday's Game Six affair at the Giant Center. The road team has yet to lose in the Calder Cup Final, but the Bears were virtually unbeatable at home all season long. With the Calder Cup in the house on Monday night, we might just see the Stars get mauled by the Bears. Angry, sabre-toothed, dump truck-driving bears. Yeah, that's not good.

It appears that the HBIC jinx may hold true for the Texas Stars if Hershey picks up one more win. I apologize for the jinx, but I'm almost certain that Hershey has earned these last three games. I may have nudged the sleeping bear with my article, and Texas may have poked the sleeping bear with their sticks, but it appears that all we have on our hands is another impending Hershey victory.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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