Weekly Release #8: Bears Look For More in December
Our Weekly Release includes our team leaders, upcoming schedule and promotions, as well as news and notes
Over a quarter into the 80th Anniversary Season, the Hershey Bears sit at 9-9-0-2 and in 6th place in the Atlantic Division. The Bears collected three points last week in three games, but as the calendar turns to December, the AHL’s most historic franchise is hoping for consistency and for more offensive firepower to emerge. Despite having the league’s leading scorer in Chris Bourque on the roster, the Bears sit at 25th in the league in goals for with just 2.71 per game.
The Bears went 1-1-0-1 last week. The holiday week started last Wednesday with a 2-1 loss to Springfield at the Giant Center. It was the Thunderbirds first ever win versus the Bears in eight tries, and was Springfield’s first win of the season on the road. Dustin Gazley had the lone goal for the Bears.
After the Thanksgiving holiday, Hershey returned to the ice Saturday in Hartford and claimed a 4-1 win. Mathias Bau and Riley Barber scored in the opening stanza, while Zach Sill and Mason Mitchell tallied in the second period. Vitek Vanecek earned the win in goal with 27 saves.
The Bears closed out the weekend Sunday with a 3-2 loss to Bridgeport in a shootout at Giant Center. Chris Bourque scored twice, but his younger brother, former Bear Ryan Bourque, also tallied twice, including tying the game with just over 30 seconds left. Casey Bailey had the shootout winning goal for Bridgeport.
UPCOMING GAMES AND PROMOTIONS:
-Friday, Dec. 1 at Lehigh Valley
-Saturday, Dec. 2 vs. Milwaukee
PA Lottery Night (First 4,000 fans 18 and up), Dietz and Watson Dollar Dog Night, Faith & Family Night
-Sunday, Dec. 3 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
WGAL and CommunityAid Teddy Bear Toss Night
WEEKLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE
Wednesday, Nov. 29, 10:30 AM, Giant Center
Thursday, Nov. 30, 10:30 AM, Giant Center
Friday, Dec. 1, 10:00 AM, AM Skate, Giant Center
Saturday, Dec. 2, 10:00 AM, Optional AM Skate, Giant Center
HERSHEY BEARS NEWS AND NOTES
BOURQUE’S LEGACY GROWS: Forward Chris Bourque’s goal in the first period of Sunday’s game versus Bridgeport gave him 187 career tallies with the Chocolate and White, moving him past Ross Fitzpatrick for 8th all-time in franchise history in goals scored. Bourque now chases AHL and Bears Hall of Famer Mitch Lamoureux who is 7th with 194 career markers with Hershey. The forward has collected 533 career points with the Bears.
ZACH ATTACK: Hershey alternate captain Zach Sill scored his first goal of the season in the second period of Saturday’s 4-1 win at Hartford. The goal was Hershey’s third shorthanded marker of the season, and Sill’s first goal of the year. For the popular veteran, it was his first goal since Jan. 14 versus Lehigh Valley, a span of 66 total games (44 regular season, 12 playoffs).
FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME: Saturday’s win in Hartford was a night of firsts for the Bears. In addition to Sill’s first goal of the season, rookie forward Hampus Gustafsson collected his first point of the year, assisting on Mathias Bau’s early goal. Additionally, rookie Mason Mitchell scored his first professional goal to give Hershey a 4-0 lead in the second period. Lastly, goalie Vitek Vanecek won his first game of the season, making 27 saves, and holding Hartford scoreless until late in the third period.
THIRD PERIOD WOES: Hershey will look to finish games stronger in December. Entering this week, the Bears had surrendered 30 goals in the game’s final stanza, tied with Hartford for the most goals allowed by any team in the AHL in a single period.
MILESTONES FOR GAZLEY: Dustin Gazley’s assist in the first period of Saturday’s win at Hartford was his 100th career AHL point. The forward will likely skate in his 200th game with Hershey this week, as he sits at 198 games played.
BEARS BULLETS: Hershey collected a team-record 20,662 stuffed animals during last year’s Teddy Bear Toss, a number they’ll look to surpass on Sunday…Saturday’s contest is Milwaukee’s first visit to the Giant Center since Game 5 of a the 2006 Calder Cup Finals, a contest won by Hershey, 6-4, on Jun. 13, 2006. Brooks Laich scored 20 seconds into the game, and the Bears were up 3-0 after the first period en route to the win.
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