Andrew Gordon doesn’t have just one close friend on the Hershey Bears. The way he sees it, he has more than 20.
Gordon, a Porters Lake native, and longtime buddy Andrew Joudrey of Bedford, are key members of a close-knit Bears team that has advanced to the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup Final against the Manitoba Moose.
“Every day you go to the rink, you’re fighting to spend another week with your closest friends,” says Gordon. “That’s the attitude this team has. We have a great group of guys. We want to go as long as possible so we can all stay together.”
It’s been a magical run for the Bears, who open the Calder Cup Final on Saturday in Winnipeg. They swept the Philadelphia Phantoms in four, edged the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in seven, and dumped the Providence Bruins in five.
Gordon calls himself a “two-way scoring/checking winger” and has five goals and two assists in 16 games. Joudrey, penalty-killing forward, has a goal and three assists. Although the Washington Capitals draft picks are only second-year pros, they’re making the most of this playoff run — especially after talking with their senior-most teammate, Bryan Helmer.
The 37-year-old Helmer, a multi-time all-star, has only been to the Calder Cup Final twice in 16 seasons.
“I’m realizing in a career, you only have one or two chances to be part of something special like this,” says Gordon, a linemate of Sidney Crosby’s in 2001-02 with the Dartmouth Subways.
“If we can win this championship, I’ll remember it forever.”
The 23-year-old made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals in December, a fine accomplishment for a late pick. He’s hoping to stay longer the next time up, and hoisting the Calder Cup would be a big step in that direction.
“This is the reason we all play the game,” says Gordon simply. “We want to win championships.”