The setting was perfect. The weather was flawless as well. The Outdoor Classic weekend kicked off with an Alumni game between the Bears and Penguins at Hersheypark Stadium. The competitive spirit of both teams showed, but the Penguins had a younger average age. and came up with a 9-5 victory.
The game was split into two 25 minute periods. Ray Allison scored the first goal for Hershey but the Penguins younger legs showed as the game went on. Martin Sonnenberg had a first half hat trick for the Baby Pens. The second half was the Freddie Cassivi show. The one time Calder Cup MVP looked like he could still play, recording 22 saves giving up just one goal. “Freddie shut the door for us in the second half. They were just a little younger than us and a little quicker than us but hey it was great,” said Mitch Lamoureux. “We’ve got five or six generations of Hershey Bears on the ice and like Don Biggs said, I don’t have the touch anymore”
Biggs, Mike McHugh, Mike Gaul, and Brian Dobbin all scored for Hershey. Louis Robitalle and Dennis Bonvie got into a “pretend scrap” like the old days, but the players got called for a delay of game.
“It’s great to get the call,” Mark Lofthouse said. “My hats off to Hershey. I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Hockey never ends. I’m just trying to hang in their as long as I can. I could not believe the amount of people here. I flew out from Vancouver to be here and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Goaltender Gary Inness played as a position player during tonight’s game. “They told me I was the oldest guy out there. Playing as a goaltender is one thing, but those guys are good. If this was at home it would be just easy going. I don’t think these two teams like each other much. Both teams played hard and tough.”
“This was awesome. I grew up playing on the pond at home,” Dennis Bonvie, who was playing for Wilkes-Barre tonight, said. “My Mom and Dad built a rink for us. We lived out in the country so I had a couple of outdoor rinks. To get out and play like this is a lot of fun.
“Obviously the support in Hershey is tremendous. Both organizations do a tremendous job. There’s always going to be pride. But Wilkes-Barre hasn’t been around that long so we had some young guys.”
“This is very difficult to describe,” was Mike McHugh’s thoughts on the game. “It was fun playing again. It was fun seeing all these guys that I haven’t seen for a while. This environment is amazing. It was beautiful out. The ice was good I can’t tell the fans enough how much we appreciate the turnout. It was a good competitive game but we would have liked to have come out on the winning end.”
Bears great Tim Tookey was back in Chocolate Town for the game as well. “This was way more than what you think. You get excited to come and you get here with your old teammates, you can’t even express how much fun this was.
“I’ve seen football games in here but I never thought you could put a hockey rink in here and then you step on the ice and it’s full. The ice was great. Everything is beautiful.”
Along Tookey, Louie Robitaille was in town. “This is the best place to play hockey. To see this kind of a crowd to come for an alumni game, it’s great. The average age in our room was 45-50 and their average age was 30-32. We got a little tired but it was fun.”
“It’s such a great day,” fan favorite Freddie Cassivi said. “For us it’s probably the last time we’ll play in front of such a big crowd. We all enjoyed it even though they were a little younger than we were.”
The main event starts at 5 pm tomorrow at Hersheypark Stadium.