Every February 2nd in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a groundhog named Phil pops out of a hole to determine the weather for the next six weeks. If it’s sunny, then Phil is “scared” back into his hole for 6 more weeks of winter. If it’s cloudy, an early arrival of spring will arrive upon our country. The tradition is as crazy as the jerseys that trainer Dan “Beaker” Stuck designed.
HERSHEY, PA – Mike Green speaks with Dimity Orlov at the Outdoor Classic (Kyle Mace – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
Over five years after playing his last game for the Hershey Bears, Mike Green returned to Chocolate Town to drop the ceremonial first puck at the Outdoor Classic. The Calgary native played 108 games in a Bears sweater, with 40 of them in the playoffs.
Aside from a new logo, uniform and a fuzzy mascot being released to Bears Nation on a few weeks ago, the ceremony also gave the opportunity to reflect on how great the Hershey Bears fan base is. On a randomly chosen work and school night, several weeks before hockey season, a season ticket holder crowd of nearly 3,000 rushed through the Giant Center doors to see the start of what is advertised as a new chapter in Hershey Bears history.
There’s nothing like a good power play goal to get the game rolling. Hershey did just that when the Norfolk Admirals were whistled for a tripping call. Zach Miskovic was able to tip Patrick McNeill‘s shot past Dustin Tokarski on the power play to give Hershey the first lead of the night. The score stayed the same until the second period when Norfolk’s Chris Durno tied it up.
During the second period, Ashton Rome was jumped by Norfolk’s Vladimir Mihalik. At 6 foot 8, Mihalik has the clear size advantage. They were shoving back and forth beforehand but it wasn’t until Rome had his back turned that Mihalik attacked. Rome wrestled back and they both fell to ice. The crowd expressed its disapproval as both were assessed two minute roughing penalties.
While skating 4-on-4, Brian Willsie got tangled up with an Admiral player. The call could have gone either way, but it’s definitely hard to agree with two minors (tripping and roughing) against Willsie for the play. The Bears then had to play four minutes down a man. However, they rose to the occasion and did a great job keeping Norfolk back. And it remained all tied up after two periods.
And that’s how two high-scoring teams ended up starting the third period with a score of 1-1. Keith Aucoin brought the game back under Hershey’s control with a completely innocent shot. He was at the back wall and lightly tapped the puck to be back in front of the net. It some how caromed off of Tokarski himself and found its way into the net.
Steve Pinizzotto topped it off with an empty net goal and Hershey beat the Norfolk Admirals 3-1. It’s a big two points against a very strong team. It’s a game like this that gives a team a lot of confidence.
This past weekend was a very festive one at Giant Center. Most people already know about the, er, distinctive holiday jerseys they wore during Sunday’s trumping of the Charlotte Checkers. But if you were at the game this weekend, you may have seen another way they got in the Christmas spirit: by decorating ornaments.
It is a tradition involving the wives and girlfriends that dates back to 2003 for Hershey. Out on the concourse, a table displayed the artistic talents (or lack thereof) of our very own Hershey Bears. Each of the players were given a plain glass bulb and free rein to decorate it as they wish. The results involve a lot of sharpie art, glitter, and tinsel. With each player putting a twist on their ornament, you can really see a fun side of the players come out.
In addition to the individual ornaments, the team also signed over a hundred extra ornaments to sell. As for the one-of-a-kind decorations, they were auctioned off to the highest bidder.
After the cut, see pictures and a video of some of these original ornaments and the unique ways the players chose to adorn them.