By virtue of his six seasons of patrolling the Hershey Bears’ blueline, defenseman, Dean Arsene, has the distinction of being the Chocolate and White’s longest-tenured player. One of the benefits that Arsene enjoys by holding that title is that he is in charge of the music played during warm-ups at Giant Center.
For a good portion of this past season, one of the songs selected by “DJ Deano” was AC/DC’s, “It’s a Long Way to the Top”, and if Arsene were to release his own disc to commemorate the Bears’ championship season, it would probably be titled “It’s a Long Way Back to the Top”.
The tough-as-nails 28 year-old rearguard, who appeared in only 14 games in 2007-08 while still trying to shake off the lingering effects of the sports-hernia surgery he underwent after the completion of the Bears’ loss to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2007 Calder Cup Finals, gutted out 46 regular season tilts as well as all 22 post-season contests to earn his second sip of champagne from the Calder Cup.
“After the disappointment of losing the second year, and for me personally to come back from my injuries that I’ve had to deal with, it’s very sweet, very special,” said Arsene, in comparing the two title-winning experiences.
“I don’t know if you can compare one to the other. They’re both special. The first year, we weren’t expected to win; we were kind of the Cinderella story. That was pretty incredible, especially since it was my first cup.”
Recognized for the fourth consecutive season in 2008-09 as Hershey’s nominee for the AHL’s Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, given to the AHL player who best honors the spirit of the former Bears’ off-ice charity work, Arsene was anything but charitable to the opposition in the recently concluded playoffs, finishing the post-season with a plus-10 rating, including an impressive plus-3 performance in the title clinching game.
While proving to be more than capable of keeping the Bears’ opponents at bay with his stellar work in his own zone, Arsene chipped in with a key assist on Alexandre Giroux’s game-tying third period goal in game three of the series with the Providence Bruins.
Even though Arsene had already enjoyed the thrill of being able to claim a Calder Cup on another team’s home ice when the Bears captured the Calder Cup in Milwaukee in 2006, he was perhaps even more jovial while watching the scoreboard clock click down in Manitoba.
“It was 3-1 with about a minute-and-a-half left, and Frenchie (Bears assistant coach, Mark French) threw me and Kronwall on the ice to try to weather the storm,” said Arsene. “When Aucoin scored the empty-netter, it was just jubilation. After he scored, I came on the bench and threw my helmet, threw my gloves in the stick rack, and I was just ready to jump on the ice. I was pretty pumped, and I think I jumped on with about five seconds left. I was just ecstatic.”
The man nicknamed “Mayor” for his enormous popularity with the Hershey fans and the surrounding community said the realization that he had another Calder Cup to add to his resume was still an on-going process.
“I think I’ll have to take time to digest this one,” said Arsene. “I didn’t really realize the first one until about mid-August, how incredible it was, and I think it will probably be the same this time.”