Weekly Release #13: Bears Open 2019 on Home Ice
The Hershey Bears enjoyed a strong finish to 2018, winning two of three games last week to improve to 14-18-0-2. The club still sits nine points back of fourth place in the Atlantic Division, but the Bears will look to carry the momentum of last weekend into the New Year. The Chocolate and White will play two games this weekend on home ice, hosting Grand Rapids on Saturday and welcoming Milwaukee for STAR WARS Night on Sunday.
Last Friday, Hershey scored its fifth win of the season over rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, soundly defeating the Penguins 5-1 at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Bears scored twice in the first two minutes of the game, including a tally from Nathan Walker just 16 seconds into the contest. Vitek Vanecek earned the win in goal with 22 saves. Last Saturday, Hershey was upended by the Providence Bruins, 4-1, at Giant Center. The Bears led 1-0 through 40 minutes courtesy of a Mike Sgarbossa power play goal, but the Bruins added four goals in the third period, including two from Cody Goloubef, and a pair of empty net markers to earn the victory. The Bears responded on Sunday to close the year with a win over the Bruins as Hershey edged Providence, 2-1. Beck Malenstyn and Steve Whitney each scored their third goals of the season in the win.
Ticket information: http://www.hersheybears.com/tickets/single-game.php
-Saturday, Jan. 5 vs. Grand Rapids, 7 p.m.
-Sunday, Jan. 6 vs. Milwaukee, 5 p.m.
Promotion: STAR WARS Night, STAR WARS post-game jersey auction
The Bears are committed to giving back to the local community. At Hershey’s Jan. 6 game, the team will wear STAR WARS themed jerseys that will be auctioned off to benefit Liberty USO at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors, Inc. and The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Military Support for Families. Select players will also appear on Monday, Jan. 7 at the Old Barn Hockey Show at 7 p.m. at the Bears’ Den at Hershey Lodge.
WEEKLY PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Thursday, Jan. 3: 10:30 a.m., Giant Center
Friday, Jan. 4: 10:30 a.m., Giant Center
Saturday, Jan. 5: 10 a.m., Morning Skate, Giant Center
*Practice schedule subject to change. Follow @TheHersheyBears on Twitter for updates.
NESS BETTER THAN THE REST: Defender Aaron Ness led Hershey in scoring for the month of December, registering 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 13 games. He collected four multi-point games over the past month, including Dec. 2 when he tied a career-high with three points (one goal, two assists) versus Binghamton. Ness leads all Hershey defenders with 19 points (two goals, 17 assists). He is two games away from 200 in his career with the Bears, collecting 92 points (17 goals, 75 assists) in 198 contests with the Chocolate and White.
BELIEVE IN STEVE: Forward Steve Whitney scored in two of Hershey’s three games last weekend. Whitney scored last Friday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, striking for his first goal since Oct. 20, a span of 15 games. He followed up the performance with the deciding goal in Hershey’s 2-1 win over Providence on Sunday. The tally was his first AHL game-winning goal since Apr. 12, 2013 when he struck for a pair of goals in Norfolk’s win over Worcester.
SAMSONOV STARTS SURGE: Netminder Ilya Samsonov closed 2018 with his best performance of the season, stopping 22 shots in the 2-1 victory over the P-Bruins last Sunday. The one goal allowed was the least Samsonov has allowed in any of his 15 appearances with the Bears. Prior to that contest, Samsonov had allowed three or more goals in his past seven appearances, posting a 1-6-0 record in that span.
WELCOME BACK MY FRIENDS: The Bears welcomed defender Tyler Lewington back to the club on Monday. The blue liner was re-assigned to Hershey by Washington after making quite the impression in only his second NHL game. On Dec. 29 in Ottawa, Lewington registered a Gordie Howe hat trick, recording a goal, an assist, and a fight in the win over the Senators. For his efforts, Lewington was named first star. In addition to Lewington’s return, the Bears could see the return of forward Shane Gersich and defender Connor Hobbs. Both players are full practice participants after missing time with upper-body injuries. Gersich has not played since Dec. 7 and Hobbs since Dec. 15.
BEARS BITES: Forward Liam O’Brien is four points from 100 in his AHL career...Defender Ryan Sproul’s next assist will be the 100th in his professional career…Center Mike Sgarbossa has goals in three of his past five games…On Sunday, the Bears host Milwaukee for only the second time since the 2006 Calder Cup Finals. Last year, Hershey blanked Milwaukee, 3-0, at Giant Center on Dec. 2. Vitek Vanecek outdueled current Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros, stopping 21 shots to earn the shutout.
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