Hershey Bears 2020-21 Season Preview
At long last, hockey is back in Chocolatetown. The Hershey Bears open the 2020-21 season this upcoming weekend, and the club's first home game comes on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 4 p.m. versus Lehigh Valley at GIANT Center. After being on the sidelines for 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bears' return comes in a shortened, 36-game schedule, with a roster that features strong returning players, and a cast of new characters, including top prospect, Connor McMichael.
Hershey will play three opponents in the 2020-21 season, battling with North Division rivals Binghamton (playing in Newark, New Jersey this year), Lehigh Valley, and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. For home games at GIANT Center, there will be a very limited capacity of fans, and all guests and staff will be subject to COVID guidelines.
Under the direction of head coach Spencer Carbery, the Bears were one of the best teams in the American Hockey League prior to the cancellation of the season, and the club looks to pick up right where they left off.
Up front, veteran Matt Moulson is back for his second year with the Chocolate and White after collecting a team-best 22 goals last year. The veteran of over 1,000 professional games was named the 44th captain in franchise history last week, thanks to a surprise video from his children shown on the GIANT Center video board.
Other returners at forward include Garrett Pilon, who notched 18 goals last season, as well as both Joe Snively and Axel Jonsson-Fjallby who each had 12 goals in their rookie campaigns. The newest addition to the offensive attack is top prospect Connor McMichael. The skilled center was chosen by the Washington Capitals in the 1st round of the 2019 NHL Draft, and had 102 points in just 52 games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He recently made his NHL debut with the Capitals, and looks to make an immediate impact at the professional level.
On the backend, returners include 2016 Washington 1st rounder Lucas Johansen, as well as Eddie Wittchow. Veteran Cameron Schilling rejoins the organization after previously playing for the Bears from 2012-15. Newcomer Paul LaDue posted 27 points in 48 games for the Ontario Reign last season, and is a former NCAA champion with 122 games of AHL and 69 games of NHL experience.
In net, Hershey is still waiting to see if they are assigned a goaltender by NHL parent club Washington, but currently with the club is Alex Dubeau, who joined the Bears from the club's ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays, where he went 4-0-2 in six appearances. Also on the roster is Charles Williams, who has appeared in six career AHL games with Hartford and Ontario and brings 121 games of ECHL experience to Hershey's camp.
The Bears entire opening night roster is scheduled to be released later this week.
HOW TO FOLLOW THE BEARS:
While attendance will be limited, fans may follow the team by listening to games on the Bears Radio Network and via the Hershey Bears mobile app. Games are available to watch on AHLTV, the league's streaming video partner for a small fee.