The Hershey Bears, senior member of the American Hockey League, announced their schedule last week for their 71st season in the loop.
The Bears will open the campaign on Oct. 8 in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton against the Penguins, losers in last year’s Calder Cup Finals to the Chicago Wolves.
Following the opener in Wilkes/Barre-Scranton, the Bears will play their next four games on the road before finally opening up the home portion of the season on Oct. 18 at Giant Center against the Syracuse Crunch.
“Bunched” would be the best word to describe the Bears home schedule, with 30 of the 40 affairs being contested on successive nights (13 Saturday-Sunday and 2 Friday-Saturday tilts). All totaled, the home schedule breaks down as follows: 20 games on Saturdays, 13 games on Sundays, 5 games on Wednesdays and 2 games on Fridays.
Missing from the Bears home slate is a New Year’s Eve game, an annual tradition the last four years, replaced by a 1:00 P.M. affair in Springfield against the Falcons.
As usual, the Bears will see plenty of their Eastern Division rivals with 12 games against the Philadelphia Phantoms, 10 games against the WBS Penguins, and 10 games against the Norfolk Admirals.
Bob Woods, who started last season as Bruce Boudreau’s assistant and then was elevated to the role of head coach when Boudreau was promoted to Washington, returns for his first full season behind the Hershey bench. Mark French, who assumed Woods’ former assistant coach position last season on Jan. 2, also returns for his first full season in Hershey.