HERSHEY, Pa. — It takes an army to achieve the historic franchise mark of 3,000 wins. The countless players and coaches that have worn the iconic maroon or chocolate and white have set a standard that carries with the organization in the American Hockey League, 84-years later. A tradition that defines the success in chocolate town.
“It’s the players who have put the jersey on, for this franchise, for all these years. Those are the guys who have got it done. It’s impressive, it’s special, there’s less than a handful of teams prior to the Hershey Bears doing it, who have done it and that is special," said Scott Allen, Hershey Bears head coach.
Success isn’t built over night, This millstone took nine decades to achieve.
April 5, 2022 went down in the history books as the Hershey Bears became the first AHL organization to reach an astonishing 3,000 franchise wins; the Bears join Redwings, Canadians, Bruins and Maple Leafs as only North American Professional clubs to reach 3,000 wins.
Since the bears inception, 84-years-ago into the AHL, current and former Bears can’t help but reflect on the players and coaches who have come before them and have worn on that iconic maroon and chocolate sweater.
Current player Kody Clark says, “I think it’s pretty eye opening of how long the bears the bears have been around for and myself, being here for three years, is such a short little stint of history of the team. So, it’s cool to be apart of something that’s a lot bigger than us as individuals and the team as a whole."
Clark scored the final goal in overtime to secure win 3,000 on the road at Bridgeport but its the journey to get to such an historic mark.
“Shows how competitive, the teams that we’ve had over the years and what this organization does; bringing in players that win championships. To be a part of it as a player, like you said, a coach and now as the VP. Makes it for me ever more special," said Bears Vice President, Bryan Helmer.
It left some watching on the edge of their seat. Helmer, a former bears captain, knows what it’s like to raise the Calder Cup but, this milestone adds some anxiety.
“(Helmer) He was pretty pumped up. I know he told me after the game, he crapped up and couldn’t even get out of his seat because he was a little tense at that point," said Allen.
No matter how you take the great accomplishment. To get there, takes years of tradition that began in chocolate town in 1932.
“I came here in 1986 and I believe coming to Hershey in ’86 and signing as a free agent with the Flyers, changed my hockey career. Just because of the history, the guys I had around me and the second year I was there, it was the 50th Anniversary of the Hershey Bears and, we got our fifth win the last game of the season and then went on to win the Calder Cup, 12-0 in the playoffs," said Mitch Lamoureux, Bears and AHL Hall of fame center.
Years of tradition is what defines the chocolate and white. Don’t need a big city to have a roaring atmosphere.
“Godie Howe had a great saying, back in the day, anybody who’s anyone in hockey, had to come through Hershey," said Lamoureux.
The banners and the names are just a small reminder of what hockey town continues to do in our sweet corner of the world.