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Bears Announce Opening Night Roster for 2021-22 Season

October 15, 2021

The Hershey Bears have announced the Opening Night Roster for the club's 84th season in the American Hockey League. The Bears roster features 27 players, including 16 forwards, eight defenseman, and three goaltenders. 

The Bears will drop the puck on the new season on home ice on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. versus the Charlotte Checkers. It will mark the first time in 594 days the Bears have had a full crowd at GIANT Center cheering on the AHL's oldest and most decorated franchise. It will also mark the debut of new head coach Scott Allen. After two years as an assistant coach, Allen was named the club's 27th head coach in franchise history this summer.

Hershey's 2021-22 Opening Night Roster is as follows:

Forwards:
Kody Clark, Ryan Dmowski, Shane Gersich, Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Kale Kessy, Brett Leason, Beck Malenstyn, Mason Morelli, Matt Moulson, Garrett Pilon, Brian Pinho, Aliaksei Protas, Mike Sgarbossa, Joe Snively, Riley Sutter, Mike Vecchione 

Defensemen:
Alex Alexeyev, Cody Franson, Tobias Geisser, Lucas Johansen, Michal Kempny, Dylan McIlrath, Jake Massie, Eddie Wittchow

Goaltenders:
Pheonix Copley, Zach Fucale, Hunter Shepard

The Bears roster features 20 players who skated for the club during the truncated 2020-21 season, a year in which the Bears won the AHL's Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the top team in the regular season. The roster also features the re-additions of forward Beck Malenstyn and defender Tobias Geisser who played for the Chocolate and White during the 2019-20 campaign. Hershey's roster boasts 1,596 games of National Hockey League experience while also featuring many promising Washington Capitals prospects.

Among the returners up front is captain Matt Moulson, who is back for his third season with the Bears. The 37-year-old has 65 points, including 34 goals, over his 95 games as a member of the Chocolate and White. Mike Sgarbossa, a 30-goal scorer with the Bears in 2018-19, returns to the organization for a fourth season after appearing in 14 games with the Bears last year. Former Lehigh Valley Phantom Mike Vecchione is among the new additions up front. He had 21 goals with San Antonio during the 2019-20 season. 

Washington Capitals prospects at the forward position include Garrett Pilon, who made his NHL debut last year, and Brian Pinho, who skated in two games with the NHL club last season. Aliaksei Protas, a 2019 third round selection, will play his first full pro season in North America after joining the Bears late during the 2020-21 campaign, while his former junior teammate Brett Leason, a 2019 second round selection, returns for his third campaign for the Bears after posting an impressive 20 points (9g, 11a) in 33 games last season. 

The blue line features two recent Washington first round draft picks including Alex Alexeyev (31st overall, 2018) and Lucas Johansen (26th overall, 2016). Earlier this week, the Capitals re-assigned 2018 Stanley Cup Champion defenseman Michal Kempny to Hershey after the blue liner missed last season due to an achilles injury. Kempny rounds out a veteran group that features Cody Franson, who played 550 games in the NHL, and Dylan McIlrath, a 2017 Calder Cup Champion with Grand Rapids who has skated in 426 AHL games. 

In goal, Hershey's duo of Pheonix Copley and Zach Fucale return. The pair teamed up to win the Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Trophy last season, helping the Bears to a league-low 2.33 goals allowed per game. Fucale led the AHL with a 1.80 goals-against average and finished second with a .932 save percentage. Rookie Hunter Shepard is also on the roster after starting his Hershey career with a shutout and a 3-0-0 record last season. 

Tomorrow's Opening Night is PNC Bank Magnet Schedule Night for the first 8,000 fans. The team will host a Party on the Plaza (weather permitting) outside of GIANT Center starting at 5 p.m. For a limited time only, seats start at just $12. Visit HersheyBears.com/tickets/single-game.php for more information. 

Hershey Bears in a victory embrace

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