10/03/2009 - The boys of winter hit the ice for the 72nd season of HERSHEY BEARS hockey Saturday night at home against the Norfolk Admirals, and do so by celebrating last season's Calder Cup championship during pregame ceremonies. Game time is 7:00 p.m., however fans are strongly encouraged to be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. for pregame introductions, ring presentations and the hoisting of the club's championship banner prior to puck drop.
19 members of last year's team return for 2009-10 as the BEARS look to repeat as Calder Cup champions for only the second time in franchise history. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth begins his first full season with the BEARS on Saturday after being named Calder Cup MVP this past spring. Left wing Alexandre Giroux, who completed the finest goal scoring season in the history of the American Hockey League last year, returns to Chocolatetown along with centerman Keith Aucoin. The pair finished 1-2 in scoring last year in the AHL, the first time since 1969 that the AHL scoring leaderboard had HERSHEY BEARS in the top two slots.
It is a special night for new head coach Mark French, who ascended to bench boss status this past summer when Bob Woods was promoted to Washington as an assistant to Bruce Boudreau. French, who served as HERSHEY'S assistant coach for the last year and a half, officially takes over tonight as the BEARS hit the ice. Troy Mann is HERSHEY'S new assistant coach.
HERSHEY'S NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals, opened the season Thursday night with a 4-1 win at Boston over the Bruins. Washington's home opener is Saturday as well, as the Toronto Maple Leafs come to call at Verizon Center.
Saturday's game can be heard via the BEARS Radio Network (100.1 FM and www.Sportsjuice.com) beginning at 6:40 p.m. eastern. John Walton, Ed Coffey and sideline reporter Jim Jones have the call of the action from Giant Center. For ticket information, visit the Giant Center box office or call (717) 534-3911.