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Hershey tops Texas, repeats as Calder Cup champion

by John Kreiser
The Calder Cup is staying in Hershey.
The Bears became the AHL's first repeat champions in 19 years, capping a comeback from a 2-0 series deficit with a 4-0 victory over the Texas Stars on Monday night in Game 6 of the Calder Cup Finals.
The AHL's regular-season champs dropped the first two games of the final, but won three in a row in Texas before delighting the sellout crowd of 11,002 at the Giant Center with the most dominant effort by either team in the series. The Bears, the Washington Capitals' top farm team, won the Calder Cup for the 11th time overall and third in five years -- but the first in Hershey since 1980. They are the first team since Springfield in 1990 and 1991 to repeat as Calder Cup champions, and they did it after setting an AHL regular-season record with 60 victories.
Hershey got all four of its goals from defensemen. John Carlson and Karl Alzner, both former first-round picks who saw time with the parent Capitals during the regular season and playoffs, scored during a first period that saw the Bears outshoot Texas 17-4. Patrick McNeill scored midway through the second period and added a power-play goal with 5:08 left in regulation.
Michal Neuvirth, who led the Bears to the Calder Cup last year, stopped 22 shots for the shutout as the Bears beat the Stars, Dallas' top farm team, for the fourth consecutive time. Chris Bourque, son of Hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque -- who was in the crowd and called himself "a very proud dad" during the postgame celebration -- was named MVP of the playoffs after scoring 7 goals and a team-high 27 points in Hershey's 22 postseason games.
Eight of the Bears' 16 wins during the playoffs -- including a 2-1 victory at Texas in Game 5 -- came in overtime. But in Game 6, the outcome was never in doubt.
Carlson, who got the gold medal-winning goal for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in January, got what proved to be the Calder Cup winner with a power-play goal at 12:29 of the opening period. Alzner beat Brent Krahn from the left circle just 1:54 later for a 2-0 lead.
McNeill got his second of the playoffs at 14:47 of the second period and scored on a power-play wrister at 14:52 of the third. The final minutes were played to a chorus of “We Want the Cup” that ended only with the final horn that triggered the Cup celebration.

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