As they prepare to host the Winnipeg Jets in a game that could cement their playoff position for a sixth straight spring, the Washington Capitals have had some good news from down below in the organization.
The AHL Hershey Bears nailed down a Calder Cup playoff berth on Sunday in the final game of the regular season, beating the Manchester Monarchs 4-2 at Giant Center to secure the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Hershey will face the Providence Bruins in a best-of-five, first-round Calder Cup playoff series. That series gets underway this Friday in Providence with the schedule as follows:
Game One – Friday, April 26, 7:05 PM – Hershey at Providence
Game Two – Sunday, April 28, 3:05 PM – Hershey at Providence
Game Three – Saturday, May 4, 7:00 PM – Providence at Hershey (GIANT Center)
Game Four – Sunday, May 5, 5:00 PM – Providence at Hershey (GIANT Center) (if necessary)
Game Five – Wednesday, May 8, 7:05 PM – Hershey at Providence (if necessary)
This marks the eighth straight season the Bears have reached the Calder Cup playoffs in the eight years since Hershey and Washington joined forces at the start of the 2005-06 season. The Bears have made four Calder Cup final appearances during that span, skating off with the hardware in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
The Bears worked their way through a difficult late-season stretch in which they had to play seven of their last nine games on the road.
During the regular season, the Bears and Bruins traded 3-2 wins against one another. Each team won the game it played on its home ice sheet.
Down a level, the ECHL Reading Royals are all even in their second-round Kelly Cup playoff series with the Florida Everblades. The scene now shifts back to Florida’s Germain Arena for Games 3-5 on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week.
Reading win the first-round series over Greenville, four games to one. The Royals got two shutouts from goaltender Turner Gill and two from netminder Mark Owuya in winning each of those four first-round games via whitewash.
Finally, it was a great week for right wing Tom Wilson. Wilson, a Caps’ first-round draft choice (16th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, was named Ontario Hockey League player of the week for the week ending April 21. Wilson had three goals in two games and was a plus-3. The Plymouth Whalers’ winger recorded a hat trick against the London Knights on Sunday to help the Whalers to a 4-3 double-overtime victory that evened the best-of-seven set at a game apiece.
Each of Wilson’s three goals in that game tied the score, and the third one came with just 48 seconds remaining in regulation.
During the 2012-13 regular season, Wilson totaled 23 goals and 58 points in 48 games. He has chipped in with six goals and 12 points in nine playoff games thus far this spring.