04/10/2009 - HERSHEY concludes a four-game road trip Friday night, hoping to clinch an East Division championship against the backdrop of the closing of one of the most historic hockey arenas in America. The BEARS will face-off Friday night with the Philadelphia Phantoms at the Spectrum for the final time Friday night at 7:05 p.m.
The former home of the Philadelphia Flyers has housed the Phantoms since the team's inception in 1996. After ending a long affiliation with HERSHEY after the 1995-96 season, the Phantoms were formed, and an instant rivalry was the result. Friday's game against the BEARS will be the 482nd and final regular season game for the Phantoms at the fabled sports arena at the corner of Broad Street and Pattison Avenue. The Spectrum will close after this season to make way for a new entertainment complex between Citizens Bank Park and the Wachovia Center. Philadelphia has won the Calder Cup twice in its history, both in 1997 and 2005, but the Phantoms are fighting tonight and this final regular season weekend just to make the postseason in 2009. John Paddock's team is tied with the Binghamton Senators for the fourth and final spot in the East Division race with 91 points. The Phantoms have a slight edge heading into the final two games of the season for both teams, possessing one more win than the Senators, but two losses to HERSHEY this weekend would almost certainly doom Philadelphia's chances of reaching the 2009 Calder Cup playoffs. Binghamton plays Norfolk Friday at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena before traveling to Albany to close the season on Saturday night.
While the history is not lost on HERSHEY Friday night, the task at hand for the Chocolate and White has nothing to do with symbolism and everything to do with attempting to clinch a second East Division title in three seasons. With a win Friday over the Phantoms and a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton regulation/OT/SOL loss against Albany at Wachovia Arena, the BEARS can clinch first place with a weekend's worth of games remaining. Elsewhere, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers host the Springfield Falcons Friday night at the Arena at Harbor Yard.
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. HERSHEY'S final two home games of the regular season are Saturday, April 11 and Sunday, April 12 as Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton come to town. Call the GIANT Center box office for ticket information at (717) 534-3911.