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Bears Coaching Staff Signed to Multi-Year Contracts

by Scott Stuccio / Washington Capitals

HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Bears announced today that head coach Troy Mann and assistant coaches Bryan Helmer and Ryan Murphy have all been re-signed to multi-year contracts. The announcement was made by Hershey Bears president/GM Doug Yingst.

“We are very excited to bring our coaches back to lead the Hershey Bears after such a successful first season,” Yingst said. “We look forward to watching our team grow even further under this staff next year.”

The 2014-15 season marked Mann’s fifth in Hershey, but his first as an American Hockey League head coach. As the 25th head coach in franchise history, the 45-year-old Mann would guide the club to its first 100-point campaign since 2010-11, the last year of the league’s former 80-game schedule. Hershey finished 2014-15 with a record of 46-22-5-3, locking up its first East Division title since 2009-10, earning the second seed in the Eastern Conference and becoming one of only four teams to reach 100 or more points. The Bears also finished tied for the fewest regulation losses at home (seven) and registered the second-most home wins (26) in the entire AHL under Mann. He then marched the Bears 10 games into the postseason, finishing his inaugural playoff with a record of 6-4.

“I am thrilled to be returning to Hershey along with our entire coaching staff,” Mann said. “We look forward to working toward taking the next step, following our very successful first season with the Bears.”

The native of Campbellton, New Brunswick originally came to Chocolatetown in the 2009-10 season. Serving as assistant coach to Mark French, Mann guided the club to a league-record 60-win season, its 11th Calder Cup championship and second title in as many years. He was also assistant coach of the Eastern Conference at the 2011 Capital BlueCross AHL All-Star Classic held in Hershey, and went on to lead the Bears to three more subsequent postseason appearances.

Mann departed in 2013-14 to serve as head coach of the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors. The club advanced six games into the Eastern Conference finals of the Kelly Cup playoffs under Mann, the furthest the team had ever played. The Condors finished with a regular-season record of 36-30-2-4, good for second in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.

Prior to joining Hershey, Mann served as associate head coach of the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2008-2009, and as head coach of the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno from 2006-2008. As a player, Mann won the Kelly Cup championship as a member of the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1998-1999, playing for former Bears and Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.

Helmer, 42, was instrumental in helping the Bears’ defensive corps contribute to the success of the team. Under Helmer’s watch, the Bears finished first in the league in overall penalty killing (87.5%) and fourth in overall goals against per game average (2.38). In his playoff coaching debut, Helmer’s penalty killing units tallied five shorthanded goals in 10 games, a number which led all playoff teams.

The native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario went behind the bench for the first time in 2013-14 as assistant coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The club finished third in the OHL’s East Division under Helmer, posting a record of 32-30-0-6.

Helmer, who played under Mann’s guidance and served as captain of the Bears’ incredible 2009-10 season, is the American Hockey League’s all-time leader in points by a defenseman. He recorded 564 points (129 goals, 435 assists) in a remarkable 20-year career that totaled 1,117 regular-season games – a number which ranks third in AHL history.

Helmer is also the AHL’s all-time leader in Calder Cup playoff appearances, having played in 159 postseason games. He has piled up 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) and hoisted the Calder Cup three times (Albany, 1995; Hershey, 2009 and 2010).

Helmer earned two postseason All-Star Team recognitions during his time in the AHL, and while playing with the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-2011, he was awarded the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the player who best exemplified the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. His National Hockey League career featured 146 games played with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington, and a total of 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists).

Murphy, 32, served as assistant coach/video for the Bears in 2014-15, his first year in the AHL coaching ranks. Tasked with special teams duty, Murphy returned the Bears’ power-play units to the top ten as Hershey ranked ninth overall (18.0%).

Murphy came to Hershey with Mann after serving as his Bakersfield Condors assistant in 2013-14. Under Murphy’s guidance, the Condors finished fourth in the ECHL in penalty killing success (85.9%), while the defensive corps ranked eighth overall in goals-against per game average (2.81).

The 2013-14 campaign was Murphy’s first as a professional coach. The native of Rumson, New Jersey played five seasons of pro hockey, including parts of five in the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs, Hartford Wolf Pack and Peoria Rivermen. In 138 career AHL games, Murphy tallied 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists), and he added 54 points (15 goals, 39 assists) in 93 career games with the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers.

Prior to turning pro, Murphy played four years at Boston College (HE), recording 59 points in 156 career games. He was lauded as the club’s Coaches Award winner during his senior season for hard work, leadership and selflessness.

Murphy was originally selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round (185th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

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