Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Nice little wager? Don't bet on it

Rival city pans Winnipeg's attempt at customary off-ice competition

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Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz seems to have received a Hershey's kiss-off from his counterpart in Pennsylvania after attempting to set a wager over the Calder Cup.

While the American Hockey League battle between the Manitoba Moose and Hershey Bears has been intense on the ice, the customary off-ice competition between the political leaders representing the teams has proven to be no contest at all.

The Hershey Bears, one of the oldest teams in professional hockey, play in a political jurisdiction called Derry Township, whose 21,000 citizens are governed by a part-time board of supervisors. Most of the club's fans actually come from neighbouring Harrisburg, a Pennsylvania city of about 50,000 that serves as the seat of broader Dauphin County and is the only actual city within a metropolitan area of about 530,000.

On May 28, before Game One of the Calder Cup series between the Moose and Bears, Katz's director of communications called up his counterpart in Harrisburg -- and never heard back.

"We wanted to make a friendly wager. They have chocolate, we have Old Dutch chips. This sort of thing is customary when two teams meet in a championship," said Brad Salyn, Katz's spokesman. "It's been a long time since Winnipeg has been this excited about hockey. We thought we could add to the excitement."

Salyn said he left a message for Matthew Coulter, the communications director for Harrisburg Mayor Stephen R. Reed. Coulter wound up getting the message, but not until the AHL championship had already begun.

"I received a voice mail, but was on vacation when I called. By the time I returned, we were into the series, making a bet nearly impossible," Coulter said in an email.

"And also, it should be noted the Hershey Bears are a Hershey team. While many of their fans come from the city of Harrisburg and surrounding area, the team is based out of Hershey, a township that has its own governing structure.

"Harrisburg is, indeed, the largest city in the Hershey area, but (the Bears are) not a Harrisburg team."

Officially, Hershey only exists as a U.S. census district within Derry Township. As a result, Salyn was not impressed by Harrisburg's refusal to claim the Bears as a team of its own.

"We can only assume they don't want to make a friendly wager, because the tide has clearly turned in this series," he said with his tongue firmly embedded in his cheek.

While the Bears lead the Moose three games to two, the remaining games in the best-of-seven series are in Winnipeg at the MTS Centre.

The Moose must win tonight to force a Game 7 on Sunday.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 12, 2009 B1

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