The Hershey Bears hockey team is an American ice hockey team that is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania. They have played in the American Hockey League since its first season as a fully merged league in 1938, and are the longest continuously operating member of the league.
The Bears are currently the primary development club for the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and have been since the 2005-06 season. Previously, they have also been the primary development team for the Colorado Avalanche, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins.
Hershey Bears home games are currently played at the Giant Center arena and have been since the 2002-03 season. The Giant Center sits less than a half mile from the Hersheypark Arena which was the team’s previous home from 1938 to 2002.
Chocolate manufacturer Milton S Hershey first established the “Hershey Hockey Club” in 1932 to manage professional hockey teams based in Hershey. The club has managed four different teams in three pro leagues, including the AHL Bears, during it’s 9 decades of operation.
During its long history, the Hershey Bears have won a total of 22 Conference Championships and 11 Calder Cup titles. The Calder Cup is the trophy awarded annually to champions of the American Hockey League (AHL). It is the second oldest actively awarded professional ice hockey playoff trophy after the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
The team is currently playing in the 2015-16 season. They are members of the Atlantic Division and sit at the top of the standings as of now with 78 total points.
Since 2014, Troy Mann has served as the team’s head coach. He is the 25th head coach in Bears history.
From their current roster, the leading scorers are Chris Bourque with 25 goals and 39 assists for 64 points, and Riley Barber with 21 goals and 25 assists for 46 points.
The Bears use a two goaltender rotation which includes Dan Ellis and Justin Peters. Ellis has played in 34 of the team’s games and has a .910 save percentage. Peters has played in 30 games and has a .893 save percentage.
Through the history of the Hershey Bears, there have been hundreds and hundreds of players who have worn their jersey. Even Don Cherry, one of the most famous hockey analysts made a few appearances for the Bears during the 1950’s.
Many Bears players advanced to the NHL and just of few of the names include Craig Berube, Wayne Cashman, Troy Crowder, Mike Green and Rich Sutter.
The team is firmly entrenched in the Hershey community and the AHL and will continue to bring a strong brand of hockey and a pipeline of players to the NHL for many years to come.