01/02/2009 - The BEARS open up 2009 in Rhode Island Friday night against the Providence Bruins at 7:05 p.m. The game at Dunkin Donuts Center features two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, with the P-Bruins just one point back of the first place Portland Pirates in the Atlantic Division.
Wednesday saw the end of 2008 and HERSHEY'S 24th victory of the season in Springfield. Steve Pinizzotto and Mathieu Perreault scored the goals and Simeon Varlamov posted his second career AHL shutout as the BEARS blanked the Falcons 2-0 at Mass Mutual Center. With 24 wins, 49 points and a winning percentage of .742, the Chocolate and White rank as the number one team in the American Hockey League as play begins in 2009. The AHL will officially hand the coaching duties for the Canadian AHL All-Star team to the coaches that lead the league in winning percentage at the end of play on Sunday.
Providence heads into play Friday with a 19-14-1-2 record, good for 41 points and second place in the Atlantic Division. The Bruins have won just four games in its last 10 after leading the Atlantic much of 2008-09.
Friday around the East Division features Bridgeport and Philadelphia meeting up at the Wachovia Spectrum at 6:05 p.m., while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton travels to Albany to square off with the River Rats at 7:00 p.m. Binghamton hosts the Houston Aeros at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena Friday night, and the Norfolk Admirals are in Worcester to face the Sharks.
Friday's game can be heard via the BEARS Radio Network (100.1 FM, 1490 AM, Sportsjuice.com, AHLLive.com) beginning with the pregame show at 6:40 p.m. John Walton has the call of the action from Dunkin Donuts Center. The game is the second of a five-game road trip for the Chocolate and White, with the next home game coming up on Friday, January 9 against Houston at GIANT Center. Tickets are on sale now at the GIANT Center box office, or by calling (717) 534-3911.