Game three of a five-game road trip for HERSHEY Saturday night takes the team to Hartford to take on the Wolf Pack in Connecticut. The game marks the only time this season the two teams will face off against one another in Hartford, and the contest is also the second and final meeting of the year between the two clubs. The BEARS defeated the Wolf Pack 4-2 at GIANT Center back on December 6 as part of the team's franchise record 11-game winning streak.
Friday night saw the BEARS begin the 2009 portion of the schedule with a 7-2 setback at the hands of the Providence Bruins at Dunkin Donuts Center. The seven goals allowed were the most given up by the Chocolate and White in 2008-09. Francois Bouchard scored both goals for the BEARS in the loss. Hartford defeated the Grand Rapids Griffins Friday 3-1 at the XL Center, the 500th win in franchise history for the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.
Goaltender Simeon Varlamov is expected to draw the start Saturday against the Wolf Pack. Varlamov's most recent outing came Wednesday in Springfield, where he earned his second shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Falcons at Mass Mutual Center.
Despite Friday's loss at Providence, the BEARS still enter play with the American Hockey League's best win total (24), points total (49) and winning percentage (.721). With a pair of wins over Hartford and Worcester this weekend, Bob Woods and Mark French would officially be named to coach the Canadian AHL All-Star team at the AHL All-Star Classic in Worcester later this month. The league will name the coaching staff with the best winning percentage as of January 4 to the honor. Milwaukee is currently second in the AHL in winning percentage at .706.
Saturday'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 the XL Center in downtown Hartford. HERSHEY'S next home game is 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.