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Monarchs, Bears open conference final

For the second time in team history, the Manchester Monarchs are in the Eastern Conference Final.

And for the second time, they'll face the Hershey Bears.

The teams' Calder Cup playoff history is brief - the Bears swept the Monarchs in 2007 to advance to the Cup final.

This year, the teams played just twice during the regular season, with Manchester winning 2-1 in Hershey on Oct. 11, and Hershey winning in Manchester 4-1 on Nov. 7.

Game 1 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday night in Hershey.

"Hershey has been sitting there and waiting for the longest time," Manchester coach Mark Morris said after his team knocked out Worcester on Friday. "No doubt they had people here and had us scouted. We’ll get the video ready and show the guys the tape and get ready for Game 1."

The Bears completed a sweep of Albany in the East Division Final on April 29. Hershey, which finished with an AHL best 123 points, won its 10th Calder Cup title last season and will be looking for its 21st finals appearance.

"They’re an organization that they really load up every year," Morris said. "They play to win the thing from the get-go. They have lots of veterans. They’re organization is hitting on all cylinders right now. All you have to do is look to the rafters and see they’re history."

The Monarchs enter the series having won eight of 10 playoff games this season, and 16 of their last 20 games dating back to the regular season.

Leading the way have been Bud Holloway, who tied an AHL record with six game-winning goals, and goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Bernier's 1.48 goals-against average in the playoffs is tops among goalies who have played more than five games. Worcester's Alex Stalock is second at 2.28.

The Monarchs and Bears will return to the ice for Game 2 on Saturday in Hershey. The series move to Manchester on May 17 for Game 3.

Game 4 is scheduled for May 18, while Game 5, if necessary, will be May 20 in Manchester.

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