May 14, 2024

If you are getting a sense of déjà vu, no one will blame you. The Hartford Wolf Pack and Hershey Bears are set to meet for the second consecutive spring with the Atlantic Division Title on the line. The winner will represent the Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference Final, an honor the Bears earned last spring,

This will be the third all-time playoff meeting between the Wolf Pack and the Bears, all coming in the last nine years.

The full Atlantic Division Finals series schedule is as follows:

Game 1: Thursday, May 16th, @ Hershey (Giant Center, 7:00 p.m.)
Game 2: Saturday, May 18th, @ Hershey (Giant Center, 7:00 p.m.)
Game 3: Wednesday, May 22nd, @ Hartford (XL Center, 7:00 p.m.)
Game 4*: Friday, May 24th, @ Hartford (XL Center, 7:00 p.m.)
Game 5*: Sunday, May 26th, @ Hershey (Giant Center, 5:00 p.m.)
*If nec.

The series will follow a 2-2-1 format, with the Bears holding home-ice advantage for the second consecutive spring.

Now, let’s see how these budding rivals stack up ahead of another postseason battle.

History: As mentioned, the Wolf Pack and Bears are meeting for the third time in the Calder Cup Playoffs. The sides first met in 2015 in a best-of-seven, Eastern Conference Semifinals series. After falling behind 2-1 to the Bears, the Wolf Pack stormed back to win the final three games of the series.

The clincher came on May 15th, a 6-3 victory at the XL Center in Game 6.

The Bears got their revenge last spring, sweeping the Wolf Pack 3-0 in the Atlantic Division Finals. Despite having a 2-0 lead in Game 1, the Wolf Pack couldn’t hold off the Bears to strike first in the series. A 3-2 overtime victory for the Bears gave them a series lead they never lost.

After taking Game 2 4-2, the Bears closed things out with a second comeback victory, 3-1, in Game 3 at the XL Center. Lucas Johansen scored the game-winning goal in Game 3, breaking a 1-1 tie at 4:22 of the third period.

Playoff Results: Hartford became just the second team in the last three postseasons to overcome a 1-0 series deficit in the First Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Will Lockwood’s shorthanded goal 16:46 into the third period of Game 1 propelled the Checkers to a 3-1 victory on home ice. The goal, which came during a four-minute powerplay for the Wolf Pack, stunned the club late in a 1-1 hockey game.

The Wolf Pack showed their resolve, however, as they won Game 2 in overtime despite never leading during regulation. Ryder Korczak tied the game 3:06 into the third period, potting a backdoor feed from Brennan Othmann for his first career Calder Cup Playoff goal. The tally forced overtime, where Alex Belzile played the role of hero. Belzile jammed home a rebound 8:11 into the extra session, forcing a Game 3 on April 28th.

In Game 3, Jaroslav Chmelař broke the ice 10:10 into the game with his first career Playoff goal, giving the Wolf Pack a lead they never lost. Riley Nash potted the series-winning tally 4:21 into the third period, stuffing home a backhander on the powerplay to make it 2-0.

Brett Berard then snapped home a shorthanded goal at 14:52, making it 3-0 Wolf Pack. The goal was Berard’s first career Calder Cup Playoff tally.

Brendan Perlini got the Checkers on the board with a six-on-four goal at 15:37, but Dylan Garand slammed the door shut from there to complete the comeback and send the Wolf Pack to the Division Semifinals.

In the Division Semifinals, the Wolf Pack upset the Providence Bruins for the second consecutive spring. The sides split two games in Providence, with the Wolf Pack grinding out a 4-3 victory in Game 1 before the Bruins rolled to a 6-0 decision in Game 2.

The series shifted to Hartford for Games 3 and 4, where the Wolf Pack would score a pair of dramatic victories. First, Nash tipped in a Blake Hillman shot 4:52 into overtime of Game 3, giving the Wolf Pack a 3-2 win and a 2-1 lead in the series.

Jake Leschyshyn then won the series for the Wolf Pack 9:41 into overtime of Game 4, as a Victor Mancini shot rang the post, hit the skate of Leschyshyn, and trickled by Brandon Bussi.

The Bears won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s regular-season champion with a record of 53-14-0-5. As a result, the team earned a bye through the First Round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive spring.

In the Atlantic Division Semifinals, the Bears defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 3-1, polishing the series off with a 5-3 victory at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, on Saturday night.

The Bears claimed Games 1 and 2 at the Giant Center, taking Game 1 2-1 before enjoying a comfortable 5-1 triumph in Game 2. The Phantoms stayed alive with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 but could not force the series back to Chocolatetown.

Ethen Frank’s powerplay goal 10:57 into the second period, which made it 4-2 at the time, would prove to be the game and series winner. It was Frank’s third goal of the series. Hunter Shepard made 29 saves on 32 shots to help close out the series.

Head-to-Head: The Wolf Pack and Bears faced off four times during the regular season, with Hershey claiming victory in three of the meetings. The Wolf Pack posted a head-to-head record of 1-2-0-1, while the Bears went 3-1-0-0.

The Wolf Pack struck first in the head-to-head matchup, claiming a 5-3 victory on January 6th in Hershey. The Bears won the final three meetings of the season series, however, starting with a 4-2 victory on January 19th at the XL Center.

The Bears also won 4-0 on March 17th at the Giant Center, then 2-1 in the shootout on March 30th in Hartford.

Despite dropping three of the four meetings, the Wolf Pack outshot the Bears by a 113-102 margin during the season series.

The Bears outscored the Wolf Pack 7-4 at even strength, however, and 13-8 overall.

Top Performers: Belzile was Hartford’s most potent offensive weapon in the head-to-head matchup. The veteran forward was a point-per-game, scoring four points (1 g, 3 a) in four games. Leschyshyn, Hartford’s Game 4 hero against the Bruins, scored three goals in four games against the Bears in the season series.

Berard was the hero on January 6th, scoring the game-winning goal in the Wolf Pack’s 5-3 victory. He finished the season series with three points (1 g, 2 a) in four outings.

For the Bears, Frank struck three times against the Wolf Pack this season. He notched the game-winning goal, on the powerplay, in Hershey’s 4-0 victory on March 17th. Both Alex Limoges (1 g, 2 a) and Mike Vecchione (1 g, 2 a) also recorded three points in the head-to-head series.

Depth was key for the Bears, as center Riley Sutter played a large role in Hershey’s success against Hartford. He recorded three points (1 g, 2 a) and a +3 +/- rating in four games.

In net, Hunter Shepard was a perfect 3-0-0-0 against the Wolf Pack. He made 81 saves on 84 shots, posting a .964 save percentage, 0.97 GAA, and one shutout in three appearances.

How to Watch: Play-by-play voice of the Wolf Pack Alex Thomas will have you covered for all five games, if necessary, of this series. ‘Wolf Pack Pregame’ starts at 6:45 p.m., before puck drop goes at 7:00 p.m. for Game 1 in Hershey on Thursday night and Game 2 on Saturday night.  

‘Wolf Pack Pregame’ will start at 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 22nd, and Friday, May 24th, ahead of 7:00 p.m. puck drops at the XL Center for Game 3 and Game 4 (if nec.).

You can watch each Wolf Pack playoff game live on AHLTV, and you can listen for free on Mixlr.

Single-game tickets for Game 3 and Game 4 of the Atlantic Division Finals are on sale now!

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

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ABOUT THE HARTFORD WOLF PACK: The Hartford Wolf Pack has been a premier franchise in the American Hockey League since the team’s inception in 1997. The Wolf Pack are the top player-development affiliate of the NHL's New York Rangers and play at the XL Center. The Wolf Pack has been home to some of the Rangers newest faces including Igor Shesterkin, Filip Chytil, and Ryan Lindgren. Follow the Wolf Pack on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.  

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