The first place HERSHEY BEARS begin a three-game New England weekend Friday, facing off with the Lowell Devils at Paul Tsongas Arena. Face-off is at 7:00 p.m.
HERSHEY'S lead in the East Division is an incredibly slight one as play opens Friday. The BEARS have 91 points to hold down the top spot in the East, but there's plenty of company in the rear-view mirror. Both Bridgeport and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton have 90 points as play opens Friday, although HERSHEY has two games in hand on both of its division rivals. The Chocolate and White have 13 regular season games left, while the Pens and Sound Tigers each have 11 to go. All three teams are in action Friday night. Bridgeport is at home against Worcester, while Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is in Philadelphia to face the Phantoms.
The Capitals assigned center Keith Aucoin to HERSHEY on Thursday. Aucoin, a Massachusetts native and the American Hockey League's leading scorer with 86 points, is expected to be available Friday in time for the game in Lowell. Washington also recalled winger Quintin Laing Friday. Chris Bourque, a Boston native who lives just down I-495 from Lowell in the off-season, carries a seven-game point streak into Friday's game against the Devils.
Lowell is in perhaps its worst slide of the season as play opens Friday. The Devils are just 2-7-1-1 in its last 11 games, and has not scored more than three goals in any of those games.
The BEARS will play three games in three nights this weekend with a Saturday game in Portland and a Sunday tilt in Manchester. Bridgeport will also play three games in three nights this weekend, meaning HERSHEY will still possess two games in hand on the Sound Tigers after this weekend. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has a game in Norfolk Saturday night, but is off on Sunday.
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. The BEARS return home Wednesday to face the Toronto Marlies at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are still available for the game by calling or visiting the GIANT Center box office at (717) 534-3911.