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Hershey Bears Hall of Fame defenseman and former team captain Ralph Keller dies at 82

HERSHEY — Ralph Keller, a former defenseman, team captain and AHL All-Star who helped lead the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup championship in 1974, has died. He was 82.

The Hershey Bears announced his passing Thursday in a press release.

“Today is a sad day for the Hershey Bears organization with the passing of Ralph Keller,” said Vice President of Hockey Operations, Bryan Helmer. “Ralph was one of the all-time greats to wear the Chocolate and White. He was part of our family, and he will be dearly missed. The entire organization offers our condolences to Ralph’s family and friends at this difficult time.”

Keller was a member of the Bears from 1963 to 1974. He set team records for points by a defenseman (408) and games played by a defenseman (737). A native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, Keller’s 111 goals at the time of his retirement were an AHL record. He was a league All-Star in 1968-69 and captain of the Bears in 1973-74. His sweater number, No. 3, is retired by the Bears and hangs in the Giant Center rafters. He was inducted into the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of the inaugural class, and made the AHL Hall of Fame in 2016.

The Bears will hold a moment of recognition for Keller prior to puck drop on Sunday, Mar. 11 as the club hosts the Grand Rapids Griffins at Giant Center at 5 p.m.