The Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame Committee today announced the four people selected for induction into the Class of 2018. The announcement was made by Bears Vice President of Hockey Operations Bryan Helmer. Honored by the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame Committee as the seventh group of enshrinees are Andy Branigan (player), Ellard “Obie” O’Brien (player), George “Red” Sullivan (player) and Mitch Grand (general).
FROM BEARS MEDIA RELEASE (here).
“It’s a thrill to announce the Class of 2018,” said Helmer. “There have been so many individuals that have had a timeless impact on the storied history of our organization, and our four inductees deserve to be recognized in this prestigious group.”
The Class of 2018 will be inducted on Saturday, Dec. 1, prior to the puck drop between the Hershey Bears and Springfield Thunderbirds at Giant Center. The Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame is housed on the Giant Center concourse.
Andy Branigan played for the Bears from 1946-54 and ranks No. 5 in all-time Hershey defensemen games (508), No. 10 in all-time penalty minutes (679) and No. 11 in all-time points among defensemen (136). A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Branigan was a member of Hershey’s first Calder Cup championship team in 1946-47. The 5-11, 190-pounder also played on Hershey teams that reached the Calder Cup Finals in 1948-49 and 1953-54. Branigan ranks No. 21 in all-time AHL games played (859) and also won a Calder Cup with the Providence Reds in 1955-56, when he was named to the AHL Second All-Star Team. Branigan, a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame who played 26 career NHL games with the New York/Brooklyn Americans, passed away in 1995 at age 73.
Ellard “Obie” O’Brien
Ellard “Obie” O’Brien played for the Bears from 1951-59 and ranks No. 11 in all-time Hershey assists (252) and No. 12 in all-time points (403). A native of St. Catharines, Ontario, O’Brien played 481 games for Hershey and captained the team to back-to-back Calder Cup championships in 1957-58 and 1958-59. The 6-3, 183-pound forward reached the 20-goal mark four times for the Bears, including a team-leading and career-best 31 goals in 1954-55. O’Brien, who played two career NHL games for the Boston Bruins, passed away in 2011 at age 81.
George “Red” Sullivan
George “Red” Sullivan played for the Bears from 1949-54 and averaged a remarkable 1.3 points per game in 226 career games (78 goals, 215 assists, 293 points). A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Sullivan produced 89 assists in 1953-54. That still stands as the AHL single-season record. The 5-11, 160-pound centerman won the 1953-54 John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the league’s leading scorer (119 points), the Les Cunningham Award as AHL MVP, and was named to the AHL First All-Star Team. His 119 points remains the second-best, single-season total in AHL history. In 1985-86, Sullivan, who played in five AHL All-Star Games, was selected by AHL fans to the league’s All-Time All-Star Team with fellow Bears Hall of Fame members Frank Mathers and Mike Nykoluk. Sullivan played 556 career NHL games for the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers. He served as head coach of the Rangers (1962-65) and was head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins (1967-69) during their first two seasons. In 1974-75, he coached the Washington Capitals for 19 games during their expansion season.
Mitch Grand made sweet music for the Bears at Hersheypark Arena from 1936-80. He started as a piano player in the orchestra led by Lou Cohan when the arena opened in 1936, but he eventually became a legendary solo act when an organ replaced the orchestra after 11 years. Among his standards as organist were “Three Blind Mice” when the on-ice officials skated out, “Don’t Fence Me In” for players headed to the penalty box, the “Batman Theme” after a Hershey goal, and “Mission Impossible” when the Bears weren’t playing well. When fellow Bears Hall of Famer Mike Nykoluk scored, he would play “Hello, Dolly” in honor of the Big Bear’s wife, Dolly. Grand, who was born in 1909, passed away in 1995.
Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame Committee members: John Lawn, President-CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (ex officio); Bryan Helmer, Vice President of Hockey Operations of the Hershey Bears; Doug Yingst, retired President-General Manager of the Hershey Bears; J. Bruce McKinney, retired President, CEO and Chairman of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company; Dr. Bob Goodman, AHL linesman; Dave Parro, President of the Hershey Bears Alumni Association; Don Scott, former Hershey Bears public address announcer; Randy Waybright, retired Hershey Bears supervisor of off-ice officials; Vikki Hultquist, Assistant General Manager, Facilities and Operations of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company; Maria Stouffer, Hershey Bears manager of business services; and Tim Leone, former reporter-columnist of The Patriot-News.