The Gladiators entered the Coliseum, got their hockey pants kicked, and left...
Bears Fans Treated to Season Ticket Pick Up Night
Ryan Bourque poses with a fan. (Photos by Caps Outsider)
Sunday night the Hershey Bears held their 12th Annual Season Ticket Pick Up night. Fans of all ages lined the front of Giant Center, waiting to enter to meet the players, coaches and of course, Coco.
This made for a great opportunity to interview fans and get their take on their favorite parts of going to Bears games. Answers ranged from spending time with family at the games, the overall atmosphere, spending time with their “hockey family” in their section, and of course, the fights. The fans are what makes or breaks a teams spirit, and in Hershey, the fans love their hockey. Several times players mentioned that Bears fans are the best in the league, and Hershey is the best place to play in the AHL because of the atmosphere and team history.
While waiting in line to enter Giant Center, fans spoke about the off season maneuvers and the additions to the staff. With the departure of Doug Yingst, General Manager Byran Helmer, named Vice President of Hockey Operations, has a some big shoes to fill. I spoke to Helmer to get his thoughts on the upcoming season, and sure enough he is really excited to take on this new role head on and get the season going. He is also very optimistic with the number of guys returning to the team this season could help replicate the Bears 2010 Calder Cup Championship.
Players were stationed all around Giant Center in order to sign autographs for fans. As soon as everyone came in the main entrance, Troy Mann and a few new faces to the organization were there to great the fans. In my conversation with Mann, he talked about the offseason changes to the staff, the progression of the young guys that were part of the postseason run, and the addition of the new players that will be coming into Hershey this season. With the move from Yingst to Helmer, Mann felt it was an easy transition. With the addition of assistant coach Reid Cashman, and Mann’s familiarity with him, he is hopeful that the offseason moves will work out for the best for the team.
A very common topic from the players was how short the offseason was. With the Bears deep run into the playoffs, the players had a shorter offseason to prepare for this year. However, players such as Ryan Bourque and Dustin Gazley viewed the short offseason as a positive since it meant the Bears made it further in the playoffs. A common statement from the players and coaches alike, is the goal of getting back to the Calder Cup Finals this season to finish the job and bring the Cup back to Hershey.
Along with the meet-and-greet, fans were able to skate on the ice with the players and get autographs. It was really nice to see the interactions between the fans and players. During the skate, players, coaches and other staff members were interviewed on the ice which added another element to the entertainment last night.
Overall, the Season Ticket Night was a great experience. Hockey is back in Hershey for the 2016-2017 season and Bears fans are ready. Below you can watch all the interviews and get a glimpse of the event.
The preseason kicks off October 9th and 10th when the Bears take on the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins. Since the Bears eliminated the Baby Pens from the post-season, it will be interesting to see if any of those sparks are left over from last year. O’Brien vs Sestito 4 anyone?