Patrick Williams, Features Writer

Brad Schultz knew that he had to get his family back to Pennsylvania.

Sure, it meant an 800-mile drive, but in the Calder Cup Finals, you do what you have to do.

So Brad and his son, 15-year-old Cooper, packed up the car and hit the highway. Their buddy, Hershey Bears forward Jimmy Huntington, was one win away from the Calder Cup.

Like so many hockey friendships, this one started off simply enough. The Schultzes, from Cedarburg, Wis., are Milwaukee Admirals ticket holders with seats along the glass at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. When Huntington joined the Admirals in 2021, a bond formed quickly as the Schultzes and the personable, outgoing Huntington hit it off during warm-up.

The Schultzes’ seats became known as Cooper’s Corner.

Huntington signed with the Bears last summer, but his relationship with Cooper continued. The Schultzes visited Hershey for a weekend in March.

“When we left,” Brad recalled, “we said when they go to the Finals we’re coming back.”

Huntington went on to post career highs in goals (16) and points (33) during the regular season before coming through with 14 points in 20 playoff games. He scored twice in Game 5 of the Finals against Coachella Valley to give the Bears a chance to win the Calder Cup back at Giant Center.

And the Schultzes would be there. Just over a minute into overtime of Game 6 last Monday night, Matt Strome scored the championship-clinching goal in front of 11,013 fans – including the Schultz family.

As the Bears and their families celebrated on the ice and lifted the Calder Cup, the Schultzes were there as well.

Joked Huntington, “I didn’t make them drive for nothing. It’s really big.”

“It’s amazing,” Brad said. “You go from bumping the glass a few times to standing on the ice hoisting the Cup. I ask myself every day, ‘Is this real life?’”

Huntington’s memorable season with the Bears paid off. He signed a one-year NHL contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins when free agency opened this week. And whether Huntington is in Pittsburgh or Wilkes-Barre next year, his biggest fans will still be a family in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

“It’s worth every 12 hours we drive here,” Brad Schultz said. “We’ll do it again.”


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