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Outdoor Classic. All Star Game. Just Another Day at the Rink for the Hershey Bears.

Posted January 5, 2012

Hugs all around! (Chris Bourque celebrates a goal with Boyd Kane on 12/17/2011. Both have been named to the 2012 AHL All Star Game, with Kane earning Captain's honors for the Eastern Conference team). (Photo Credit: M. Richter)

This is the second year in a row that the Hershey Bears have landed one of the most impressive gigs in the AHL.  Last year, it was hosting the 2011 AHL All Star Game.  Now, it’s being invited to play in the 2012 AHL Outdoor Classic – only the third time in 75 years of AHL history that a league-sanctioned game has been played outdoors.

Andrew Gordon (Hershey Bears 2007-11) and Eric Tangradi (WBS Pens) relax during a break at the 2011 AHL All Star Game (Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels).

In 2011, Hershey played host to representatives of all thirty teams in the league, bringing the best and brightest in the AHL to Eastern PA (with a few exceptions for the call-ups who were logging time in the big show at the time).  Three Bears graced the Eastern Conference team’s roster: Andrew Gordon (now with the Anaheim Ducks), Braden Holtby (rostered, but did not play in the ASG due to injury), and Brian Fahey (now with the Rockford IceHogs).  Lawrence Nycholat (currently playing in Germany) was also named to the team, but was an injured scratch on the day of the game.

In a return to the classics, this year's ASG will feature blue "East" and red "West" jerseys. Aucoin, Bourque, and Kane will be sporting the blue pictured above (Image Credit: The American Hockey League)

The 2012 AHL All Star Game will take place January 29-30 in Atlantic City, shadowing the NHL event in Ottawa.  Due to a quirk of scheduling, the Bears will remain the last team to have hosted an AHL All Star Game until the 2013 festivities occur. Three Bears will again be found on the Eastern Conference Team’s roster, with Captain Boyd Kane also being named Captain of the conference team.  League scoring leaders Keith Aucoin (53 points) and Chris Bourque (48 points) are unsurprising compliments to Kane’s appointment.  Congratulations, guys!  You’ve earned it.

Shinny: Stage Two 

The AHL Outdoor Classic is one of several events scheduled for the ice surface that played host to the Flyers & Rangers on January 2.  This Friday at 7PM, the Bears will play the Adirondack Phantoms (affiliate of the Flyers) in the first half of a home-and-home that will conclude on Saturday in Hershey.  Expect to see Braden Holtby starting for the Bears.  Other match-ups on the outdoor rink’s schedule include both high school (Lawrenceville v. Hill School) and university (Penn State v. Neumann University) level contests.

In a cosmic comment on why it can be good to be the little guy, the current forecast indicates that conditions for the OC should be at least as good than they were for the Winter Classic proper.  It will be clear and chilly, but hardly worse than what you’ll find in the stands at regional rinks like Kettler or the Gardens Ice House.  For those not able (or willing) to make the trek up to Philly, the game will be available through a few different sources.

– Live: Friday, January 6 @ 7PM EST: CSN Philly, AHL Live, Sportsnet (Canada).

– Delayed: Saturday, January 7 @ 4PM EST on NHL Network

To balance things out, Canada will get their very own AHL Outdoor Classic this year.  In what’s being called the “Steeltown Showdown,” the Toronto Marlies (affiliate of the Maple Leafs) and the Hamilton Bulldogs (affiliate of the Canadiens) will take the outdoor ice in Hamilton on the 21st.

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