There was a whole new look in the Old Barn on the opening day of Hershey Bears training camp. A new coach, new players and even a new ceiling in the Hersheypark Arena. Some of Mike Haviland’s new players had never been in the building, but it’s where the Bears will practice this week before the first pre-season game Friday night against Utica at Giant Center
“I certainly didn’t sleep much last night, I was that excited,” Haviland told abc27. The Bears new boss put two different squads thru two lively workouts on Tuesday morning. “There is a period for everybody, for their adjustment to me and what I’m looking for and that’s a process. There are guys still coming down (from the Caps) so there will be some tough decisions in this camp.”
Haviland will coach a Bears team that failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs the last two seasons. Hershey has made some moves that should get them back in contention.
“Doug Yingst (Bears President and General Manager) and Washington worked well together and I think they addressed the issues we talked about over the summer. The guys we brought in are going to play with a better pace and more of an in your face type of a game. We talked about team toughness last night. We’re going to be a team that’s going to stick up for each other and play for each other.”
Among the players returning Bears leading scorer Jeff Taffe. “I think we are going to bring a lot more physical play to our team. I think we’ll play a faster game. It’s always hard to see some of your good friends leave, but at the same time I think we are trying to build a championship caliber team and bringing in guys that compete hard and want to score goals will be a big turnaround for us.
The Bears will practice at the Hersheypark Arena this week and then play three pre-season games in three nights starting Friday at Giant Center against the AHL’s newest franchise from Utica, New York.
Hershey’s home opener and first game of the season will be Saturday October 5th against Adirondack