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Hershey Bears prepare for Game One puck drop in Coachella Valley

For the first time in 55 years, the oldest franchise in the AHL is taking on the newest in the 2023 Calder Cup Finals.

PALM DESERT, Calif. — It's been a while since the Bears have hit the ice in the Golden State, 55 years to be exact. This Calder Cup Finals has a unique feel to it as the oldest franchise in the AHL is taking on the newest. 

With just 24 hours until puck drop on Game One, the Chocolate and White took to the ice for one last practice on Wednesday and the Bears say they're ready for puck drop in Thursday's series opener. 

"The guys are pretty loose and they are a tight-knit group, they have a lot of fun and we will have a meeting before dinner tonight about what we are facing. From there, they can focus [on having] dinner and a few laughs, then it's time for puck drop," said Hershey's head coach Todd Nelson. 

Hershey looks to bring their fast and physical style to Coachella. The Firebirds may have the top five scorers in the postseason, but there is no fear for the Bears. Not only can they roar, but they're also ready to show they can bite. 

"It's a heck of an organization, we know that it's going to be really hard games and [a] really hard matchup so we are preparing to show what we can do," said Hershey Bears defenseman Aaron Ness. 

The Chocolate and White are 6-0 on the road for the postseason thus far. That'll be tested in Game One with Acrisure Areana's loud fanbase. 

It has the Bears' locker room excited.

"It's fun, talk to anyone playing in front of big crowds, it's electric and a lot of fun. [It] gets everyone going," said Ness. 

"It's fun to shut 'em up," added right winger Sam Anas. "We are excited just like any fans in general, it's fun to be the enemy and it brings you together as a team." 

In Coachella Valley, it's a "chocolate boycott" so to speak. Fans are buying Hershey bars in bulk to turn into the arena tomorrow in order to receive toffee popcorn from a local company. 

What's happening to all that chocolate though? No worries, it'll be donated to a local food bank for families in need. 

Catch the first game on FOX43 on Thursday, June 8 at 10 p.m. For the full schedule, click here

Download the FOX43 app here.

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