Saturday night the Hershey Bears re-matched the Syracuse Crunch at Giant Center in the final meeting of the campaign between the two sides. Opening night only rolls around once every hockey season when newer faces make their very first impression to the Hershey faithful. However in the first home game ensuing a busy trade deadline, this game had the feel of a second home opener with all the new faces.
Nate Schmidt, Michael Latta, and Dane Byers all made their Giant Center debut. Also returning to the lineup was the fan favorite enforcer, Joel Rechlicz. Rechlicz last played for Hershey last season totaling 267 penalty minutes and was not resigned during the off season. A player swap last week involving Matt Clackson and the Portland Pirates brings Rechlicz back to Hershey for his third season.
In the Bears’ second home opener of the season, it was a similar result to their first on October 20. Joey Crabb scored Hershey’s lone tally and fell to the Syracuse Crunch by a 2-1 count.
HERSHEY, PA – Tomas Kundratek, seen here at the 2013 Outdoor Classic, scored twice in Hershey’s 4-2 win over Syracuse tonight (Kyle Mace – Sweetest Hockey on Earth)
Friday night it was the battle of candy bars north of the Pennsylvania border. The chocolate covered Hershey Bears battled the Crunch of Syracuse. Tomas Kundratek returned to the Hershey lineup for the first time since the Outdoor Classic on January 20, and impacted the match with two goals including the game-winner.
Boyd Kane started the scoring, and Peter LeBlanc tallied a highlight reel insurance marker in the third period to help his team’s charge towards a staggering 4-1 win.
The Hershey Bears looked to conclude a perfect weekend sweep against East Division teams on Sunday with a tilt against the Syracuse Crunch. It was the fourth meeting of the season between the Bears and Crunch with Hershey looking for their first victory against Tampa Bay Lightning’s top affiliate.
World Wrestling Entertainment legend Ric Flair often infamously said, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” Sunday evening the Bears beat the man of the Eastern Conference with a stunning 5-3 win over the top seeded Crunch.
The rink taking shape at Hersheypark Stadium (Photo via our Instagram account)
Today kicks off our 2013 Outdoor Classic coverage here on Sweetest Hockey. We will be bringing you feature stories about the game and the events leading up to it right here. Check back with us everyday for a few new stories ranging from the assembly of the rink, to player interviews. Hope you enjoy!
In 2008, the NHL introduced a new event that has changed the game of hockey: the Winter Classic. Since then, five other NHL outdoor games have been played across the country. A few years the AHL decided take after their parent league and playing an outdoor game of their own and then officially establishing an Outdoor Classic a few years later. Since then, the Hershey Bears have taken part in two of them, and one of which will be played in less than a week.
Sunday night the Hershey Bears looked for revenge over the Syracuse Crunch after suffering a 6-1 beat down, nearly 48 hours prior to the start of Sunday’s game. Dany Sabourin, who came into Friday’s game in relief for Braden Holtby drew the start against Dustin Tokarski. A third period scoring explosion for Syracuse led to a 5-2 win over Hershey.
If the Hershey Bears were to pick a location to open their season on the road, it likely would have been Syracuse. The last five seasons the Onondaga County War Memorial has been a very successful road rink for the Bears. Entering Saturday’s match-up, the Bears have posted a 8-1-0-1 record in Syracuse dating back to the 2007-08 season. But the winning pattern didn’t hold up Saturday night as former Norfolk Admiral, Cory Conacher posted two points and earned first star honors in a 4-3 Crunch with over Hershey. It was the first opening night loss for Hershey dating back to October 2007.
The Hershey Bears are supposed to feed players to the parent club Washington Capitals, but on Saturday night it was the Bears fans who got to taste the “Cheese” again. Former Bears goaltender Daren Machesney returned to Hershey from South Carolina, playing his first game as a Bear since the 08-9 season. Dany Sabourin was called up to Washington, to back up the other Bears goaltender Braden Holtby, as the Caps finished the regular season against the Rangers. Machesney played well, but the Bears only picked up one point against Syracuse in a 3-2 shootout loss.
It’s no secret that a big part of tonight’s game was Andrew Gordon facing off against his former team. But when the Hershey Bears play the Syracuse Crunch, you have to put friendships to the side.
Speaking of Andrew Gordon, he had a primary assist on the first goal of the game. Rick Schofield fired a one-timer that blazed past Braden Holtby to give the Crunch the lead. But Cody Eakin tied it up before the end of the period. He ended Hershey’s power play woes with a great shot against Antero Niitymaki.
Tonight, against the Syracuse Crunch, the Bears hosted their social media promotion night, a nifty gimmick for those involved in the internet side of sports fandom. Luckily, the players gave us plenty to tweet about.
Known for their strong starts, the Bears were buzzing right away. Matt Ford continued his point streak when he scored on the first shot of the game. Unfortunately, a Syracuse 5-on-3 power play killed some of the momentum, especially when Patrick Maroon scored on Dany Sabourin. Sabourin made a great initial save but Maroon was there for the rebound. Tie game.