01/30/2009 - Possessing the best record in the American Hockey League, the HERSHEY BEARS get back to work Friday following the All-Star break. With 33 games remaining in the final 73 days of the regular season, the BEARS begin the stretch run in Wilkes-Barre Township Friday against the Penguins. Face-off at Wachovia Arena is at 7:05 p.m.
The BEARS will conclude the month of January this weekend with a road game in Wilkes-Barre and a home game Saturday against the Norfolk Admirals at GIANT Center. With a league best 32 wins and 67 points, HERSHEY has a 10-point lead over the second place Bridgeport Sound Tigers entering play Friday. The Penguins, however, have been the one thorn in the side of the Chocolate and White in 2008-09. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has posted four straight wins over HERSHEY since the BEARS won 8-4 back on October 8 at Wachovia Arena.
Against the Penguins this season, Chris Bourque and Keith Aucoin are tied for the team lead in scoring with nine points against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Daren Machesney has posted the only victory this season against the Pens, but Michal Neuvirth has the best goals against average among BEARS backstops (2.77) when facing Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2008-09.
Around the East Division Friday, the Binghamton Senators continue a swing through Texas with a game in Houston against the Aeros at 8:35 p.m. Albany visits Norfolk Friday night, while Bridgeport travels to Hartford to face the Wolf Pack. Philadelphia is the only team in the AHL that has Friday off.
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 6:45 p.m. John Walton has the call of the action from Wilkes-Barre Township. Tickets are still available for Saturday's game with the Norfolk Admirals at GIANT Center by calling or visiting the GIANT Center box office at (717) 534-3911.