It came down to the last day of the regular season, but the Hershey Bears have qualified for the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Capitals’ top minor league affiliate beat the Manchester Monarchs 4-2 on Sunday to clinch the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bears (36-31-3-6) open their best-of-5 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series on Friday, Apr. 26 against the top-seeded Providence Bruins (50-21-0-5).
Hershey has qualified for the AHL post-season every year since its current affiliation with the Capitals was established in 2005.
Jon DiSalvatore scored twice on Sunday while Boyd Kane and Chay Genoway had a goal each before a sellout crowd of 10,984 at Giant Center. Among those in attendance was Capitals defenseman Steve Oleksy.
Joey Crabb, Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek had an assist each and Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves to finish the AHL regular season with a 15-9-2-2 record.
LONGTIME CAPS ASSISTANT IS PLAYOFF BOUND
Former Capitals assistant coach Dean Evason is headed to the Calder Cup Playoffs in his first year as an AHL head coach.
Evason was hired last summer as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals and thanks to a season-ending four game winning streak, the Admirals clinched the 8th seed in the Western Conference on Sunday- the final day of the regular season.
Evason spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Capitals from 2005-12, before joining the Nashville Predators top minor league affiliate last offseason.
The Admirals went 41-28-4-3 under Evason and open their best-of-5 Western Conference Quarterfinal series on Friday, Apr. 26 against the top-seeded Texas Stars (43-22-5-6).
WILSON, WHALERS BEAT HUNTER’S KNIGHTS
Capitals prospect Tom Wilson (first-round, 16th overall, 2012 NHL Draft) had a hat-trick and the Plymouth Whalers rallied from three one-goal deficits to beat the London Knights 4-3 in double overtime on Sunday.
The Ontario Hockey League’s best-of-seven Western Conference Final is now even at a game apiece.
All three of Wilson’s goals came in regulation, including the game-tying tally with 48 seconds left in the third period. Fellow Capitals prospect Connor Carrick (fifth-round, 137th overall, 2012 NHL Draft) had the primary assist on Wilson’s third goal of the game.
Wilson has six goals and 12 points in nine playoff games this spring. Carrick has appeared in 12 post-season games, and leads all OHL defensemen with 13 points and a plus-16 rating.
The Western Conference Final shifts to Plymouth for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.