Hershey Bears make final push toward Calder Cup playoffs
That furious climb in the Atlantic Division is nearly complete for the Hershey Bears.
Now, the hard-charging hockey club is focused on locking down a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs.
Hershey, coming off a 3-0-0-0 week, enters the final weekend of the AHL’s regular season in the fourth and final playoff spot.
Translation? Friday’s visit to Atlantic rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton holds considerable weight.
“It’s been a very frustrating season, just in terms of how tight, how competitive the division is,” said head coach Troy Mann on Friday morning.
“We made some cap space adjustments to the line up with the trade deadline and we went 13-5 since, but haven’t yet qualified for the playoffs. We just need to focus on each game. We know if we win both we really could be third.”
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Although the Penguins (50-19-3-2, 105 points) stand atop the Atlantic Division, Hershey (41-22-8-3, 93 points) is hoping to continue trend, one that started with a March surge that produced 10 wins.
Hershey head coach Troy Mann is hoping a “frustrating” regular season ends with a playoff bid. PennLive/Sean Simmers
Defenseman Christian Djoos won AHL Player of the Month honors as Hershey worked its way into the postseason picture.
Three wins last week, including Saturday’s 2-1 clip at Toronto, helped the Bears bumped the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for fourth-place.
“We just don’t want to get in a situation where we’re depending on other teams to help us out here,” Mann said.
“Our focus is to go into Wilkes-Barre and play a great game in there, get the two points, see what happens postgame and move on to tomorrow.”
There’s a real chance the Bears could still be searching for its postseason invite when the team returns to Giant Center for Saturday’s regular-season finale against Providence.
Hershey would need a win at Wilkes-Barre, coupled with a Bridgeport loss at Springfield, to clinch on Friday.
The Bears did claim a 2-1 victory over the Penguins in their last meeting on March 4, breaking a string of seven straight losses to Atlantic Division leaders.
“Both teams are very deep. They bring four lines at you, a good set on defense, and both teams have great goaltending,” Mann said about Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“You just have to go and play your game. At the end of the day, the guys needs to go out and leave it on the ice and we’ll see where it takes us.”