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Tonight's Game Preview: Bears at Senators

Tonight's Game Preview: Bears at Senators

October 15, 2016

Game 2: October 15, 2016, 7:05 p.m.
Hershey Bears (0-1-0-0) at Binghamton Senators (0-0-0-0)
Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena- Binghamton, New York

Listen to the Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch, provide the play-by-play on WQIC 100.1FM & on the Bears app via Fox Sports 1460AM.

The Hershey Bears complete a two-game road swing the evening in Binghamton. This is the second straight night the Bears will play in an opponent’s home opener on the road after falling on the opening night of the regular season in Rochester last night, 5-4. Hershey got two goals from Jakub Vrana, plus tallies from Hubert Labrie and Brad Malone in the loss. In the contest, the Bears outshot the Americans 29-12. Hershey will look to earn their first win this evening versus the Senators, and the club has not dropped the first two games of the season since the 2013-14 campaign when they started the year 0-3. The Bears are coming off a season in 2015-16 in which they finished with a 43-21-5-7 record and the top spot in the Atlantic Division. The Bears beat Portland, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and Toronto in the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs to advance to the Finals versus Lake Erie. The Senators open their season this evening. Last year they finished last in the North Division with a 31-38-6-1 mark.

The Bears enjoyed great success last season versus Binghamton. Hershey went 6-2-0-0 versus the Senators, including posting a pair of victories on the road. Forward Chris Bourque dominated the scoresheet versus Binghamton last season, posting four goals and nine assists for 13 points, the most among either team in the season series. Riley Barber also had nine points, including six goals versus the B-Sens. The Bears have held the advantage in the series versus Binghamton over the past five years, posting a 25-10-3-4 mark. In that stretch, Hershey is 12-6-1-2 at Binghamton.

Forward Jakub Vrana is off and running for Hershey. The 2014 1st Round selection (13th overall) of the Washington Capitals picked up right where he left on in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Vrana scored a pair of goals in last night’s season opener at Rochester in the 5-4 loss. Vrana caught fire in the 2016 playoffs, leading the club with eight postseason goals and finishing second on the team with 14 points. In the 2015-16 regular season, Vrana finished sixth on the team in scoring with 34 points in only 36 games. He opened the season quickly last year as well, striking for a pair of assists on opening night in Springfield on Oct. 10.

Binghamton returns several familiar faces this season including forward Casey Bailey, who came over last year from the Toronto Marlies and collected an impressive 21 points, including 14 assists, in just 30 games for the B-Sens. The 6-3 power forward hails from Anchorage. Matt Puempel, who had four goals in four games versus Hershey last season, also returns. Tough guy and veteran forward Zack Stortini notched 182 penalty minutes last season. He’s back for another tour of duty with the Senators. In goal, both Chris Driedger and Matt O’Connor are back in Binghamton. O’Connor struggled versus Hershey last season, going 1-3-0 with a 4.38 goals against average and a .818 save percentage.

Hershey returns 15 players who appeared in a game for the club during the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs. Among the returners is AHL Most Valuable Player, Chris Bourque, who led the league with 80 points last season. His brother Ryan also returns after being obtained by the Washington organization at the trade deadline last year. A fellow returner up-front is Riley Barber who enters his second season after notching 26 goals as a rookie, as well as Jakub Vrana.. On the blue line, Madison Bowey returns after finishing with a team-best +22, and registering 29 points, the top mark among Hershey defenders in 2015-16.

The Bears welcome two new goaltenders to the roster this season. Joe Cannata was signed by Washington on July 1 and joins Hershey after having a breakout season with the Utica Comets last year. In 2015-16, the Merrimack grad posted career-bests in games played (40), wins (20), and shutouts (2). Cannata played in his first game for Hershey last night, stopping seven shots in a 5-4 loss. Joining Cannata is Vitek Vaneck, a 2014 2nd Round selection of Washington who joins the Bears full time after making his Hershey debut in the 2015-16 regular season finale, earning a 2-1 shootout victory over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on April 17. With South Carolina of the ECHL last season, Vanecek went 18-7-6 in 32 games and finished with the second best goals-against average in the ECHL at 2.03. The 20-year-old native of the Czech Republic earned league honors four times during the 2015-16 campaign, including being named to the ECHL All-Rookie Team.

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