Hershey Bears Hockey is Back!
The 80th Anniversary Season of Hershey Bears hockey is here. The American Hockey League’s most historic franchise will look to write a new chapter in its illustrious history in 2017-18.
Hershey’s home opener comes this Saturday, Oct. 14 as the Bears welcome the Belleville Senators to the Giant Center. This will be the first time the Bears battle Belleville, the top minor league club of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. That evening is PNC Bank Magnet Schedule Night for the first 8,000 fans, and is one of many exciting promotions the Bears will offer this season.
Home ice advantage plays a large part in Hershey’s success thanks to the best fans in the AHL. The club’s loyal fan base always “Defends the Den” having led the AHL in attendance for the past 11 seasons. In 2016-17, the Bears drew over 9,300 fans per game as loud and passionate fans led Hershey to 24 wins at Giant Center.
In the club’s 80th season, the team will be playing for a beloved member of the Hershey family. Former President and Chief Operating Officer of HERCO (known today as Hershey Entertainment & Resorts), Kenneth V. Hatt, passed away in August. A 1941 graduate of Milton Hershey School, Hatt had been a lifelong and fundamental supporter of the Bears, particularly during his 52-year tenure as a HERCO executive. He served as Chairman of the Board of Milton Hershey School and Hershey Trust and was named the school's Alumnus of the Year in 1962. He was a 2013 inductee into the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame. The Bears will wear Hatt’s initials on the back of their helmets this season in his honor.
Hershey’s 2017-18 roster features 17 players who skated with the club at some point during the 2016-17 season. Key players including captain Garrett Mitchell, five-time AHL All-Star Chris Bourque, last year’s team MVP Travis Boyd. And the goaltending tandem of Pheonix Copley and Vitek Vanecek, return to Hershey for the new season. They join a crop of newcomers who will take the ice under fourth year head coach Troy Mann in pursuit of the organization’s 12th Calder Cup.
The Bears finished third in the AHL in goals per game with 3.32 and led the AHL in shooting percentage last season. Under Mann’s watch, a fast-paced, up-tempo offensive team is a given. However, of the 252 goals Hershey scored last year, 154 came from players not on Hershey’s opening night roster this season. With players departing, including Hershey’s top four goal scorers from last year, the Bears will have to replace 61% of its offense from last year. Top point producers such as Christian Djoos, Jakub Vrana, and Nathan Walker have all advanced to the NHL with Hershey’s parent club, the Washington Capitals.
Information on the 80th Anniversary Season, as well as the 2018 Capital BlueCross Outdoor Classic, full season tickets, 22-game and 12-game plans and flex-10 ticket plans for the 2017-2018 season is available now by calling (717) 508-BEAR or by visiting HersheyBears.com. Flexible ticket plans start as low as $195 per seat.