Pre-Season Game Day: Devils at Bears – 10/1



Good morning from the Den!

First of all, I sincerely hope all of our season ticket holders had a great time at the ticket pickup event last night.  The unveiling of the scoreboard was certainly the highlight of the night, wasn’t it??  I also heard tons of comments about how approachable and kind the players were to our fans.  That’s pretty much a given in my mind.  We had a wonderful turnout of nearly 3,000 people and folks, what you saw on the board will not even scratch the surface of the list of things it can do during the regular season.  I can’t wait either, believe me!

Madison Bowey won the hardest shot competition too, firing a blast of 98 mph on his second attempt (his first: 97).  In a neat twist, assistant coach Bryan Helmer went up against Bowey and fellow competitors Riley Barber and Bobby Shea.  Helmer fell 0.5 mph short of Bowey’s reading, and unfortunately for the players, did not have to buy dinner for them.  I still think Helmer – with his heart of gold – will still treat, even if it happens to be at Chipotle or McDonald’s.

During the event, the Albany Devils arrived at Giant Center and began to load into their locker room in preparation for tonight’s pre-season opener.  Former Bears centerman Jim O’Brien was one of them, and hopefully we get a chance to see him at some point.

The parent New Jersey Devils went through one heck of a transition in the off-season, with long-time GM Lou Lamoriello heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs and former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero moving in to Lou’s spot.  Shero brought up his former staff in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, with head coach John Hynes getting his first crack on an NHL bench.  Hynes, in turn, swiped assistant coach Alain Nasreddine from northeastern Pennsylvania and took him along for the NHL ride.  Another of Shero’s former colleagues in Pittsburgh, then-special assistant Tom Fitzgerald, is now serving as the GM of Albany.  The Albany coaching staff has largely remained the same, with Rick Kowalsky back again to try to take his crew through a new-look division.

20150930_092620What we see tonight should be a mix of a few veterans and a lot of prospects or camp tryout players – on both sides of the center red line.

Hershey’s morning skate gets underway at 10:00 am, and Albany will take the ice at 11:15.  I’ll have lineup information and a few interviews later on today.  Here’s hoping that with Lou’s departure comes the removal of the embargo on talking to his entire staff!



All Clear – 9/30

Per TSN’s Elliotte Friedman:











That means Chris Bourque, Carter Camper and Paul Carey are “officially” here in Hershey – but only two of the three are ACTUALLY here.  Per head coach Troy Mann, Camper returned to his home state of Ohio to retrieve his family and is expected to join the team for tomorrow’s morning skate.

I met with Bourque today, and I cannot put into words how psyched he is to be here – I’m excited just writing about it!  Just remember, Bears Nation, he is signed for TWO years.  That’s TWO years of other teams ensuring that their defense is ramped up and ready, and TWO years to get this guy his fourth Calder Cup championship and the Hockey Club its 12th!

Roster update can be found here.  27 players is the total number now.

Again, please don’t put stock into the jersey numbers… these will likely change throughout camp.

I’ll share any more news once we get it, including any news from the side of tomorrow’s pre-season opener opponent, the Albany Devils.




The Bears are getting four more players from Washington.  Three-time Calder Cup champion Chris Bourque, along with fellow forwards Carter Camper and Paul Carey, must clear waivers before being officially placed on the Bears’ camp roster.  Rookie defenseman Madison Bowey, Washington’s 2nd-round (53rd overall) pick in 2013 and a recent two-time 60-point producer in WHL Kelowna, is on his way as well and is expected to practice tomorrow in Chocolate and White for the first time ever.

Obviously, I’m beyond excited to see Bourque again (he went out of his way to come say hello and visit whenever we traveled to Hartford and Providence over the last three years) and to meet Camper and Carey in person.  But Bowey comes with a LOT of positive talk and excitement, and I’m stoked to see what he can do here.

Bowey will wear #7 with the Bears.

Washington’s roster now stands at 32 players, while Hershey’s will jump up to 27 pending waivers (14 forwards, nine defensemen, four goaltenders).

An updated roster will be issued once the “waiver word” comes down to us.



Still a “Near Record” – 9/29

Hershey Bears president/general manager Doug Yingst called it a “near record” low number of players for the opening of Bears training camp yesterday, when the team began with 18 on the roster (only 17 skated – Cole Wilson, a rookie invite from the University of British Columbia, is nursing an injury).

Always citing the positives, Yingst said that the low number is a big benefit here in Hershey.  Players will get an easier (and longer) look from the coaching staff; costs of boarding are held down; and players develop a camaraderie much more easily with a smaller number in the locker room.

Even with the five additions from yesterday (Barber, Djoos, Lewington, Vanecek and Vrana), the number is still one of the smallest Yingst has seen during the first 48 hours of a Bears training camp.

The club expects more from Washington within the next day or so, Yingst said.

Check back later for audio from Yingst and head coach Troy Mann on the progress of Bears training camp.

Here are some photos from early in Day 2:

Camp 3

Vitek Vanecek makes a stop in an early Tuesday drill.

camp 2

Goaltending coach Scott Murray chats with veteran Dan Ellis prior to Tuesday’s practice.

Camp 1

Dan Ellis stops Mike Moore from in close in a Tuesday drill.





















Camp 2

Garrett Mitchell speaks to the media on the opening day of Hershey Bears training camp.

Honestly didn’t think I would be making more than one post on this “first day of rebirth” of the blog, but the Washington Capitals have already made some moves in trimming down their roster by five.

Goaltender Vitek Vanecek, forwards Riley Barber and Jakub Vrana, and defensemen Christian Djoos and Tyler Lewington – all rookies – are on their way to Hershey and are expected to join the squad for the second day of camp tomorrow (Tuesday).  On-ice practice once again begins at 10:00am.

I would have to think that head coach Troy Mann will still keep practice to one session, given the (still) relatively small number of players here for the second day.  I would expect that to change by Wednesday, though, the day before the Bears’ pre-season opener against the Albany Devils.

Speaking of Albany, forward Jim O’Brien has cleared waivers, and the former Bear – who, let’s face it, became one of Hershey’s best in the stretch run – is expected in the New York Capital District tomorrow.  Hopefully we will get to see him on Thursday – a great guy who deserves all the best.

Here is the updated roster, complete with numbers for all those who have asked me.  A gentle reminder that these could change quite often throughout pre-season and shouldn’t be in your plans when you are buying your authentic jersey from Hershey Sports Store!!  :)


#1 – Mark Dekanich
#30 – Vitek Vanecek
#31 – Dan Ellis
#34 – Taran Kozun


#2 – Bobby Shea
#5 – Joey Leach
#6 – Mike Moore
#29 – Tyler Lewington
#32 – Erik Burgdoerfer
#33 – Christian Djoos
#37 – Nick D’Agostino
#42 – Nick Jones


#10 – Dustin Gazley
#12 – Nathan Walker
#13 – Riley Barber
#14 – Austin Fyten
#15 – Travis Boyd
#19 – Maxime Sauve
#26 – Miles Koules
#36 – Garrett Mitchell
#39 – Jakub Vrana
#40 – Caleb Herbert
#41 – Travis Boyd


Camp Opener Photos – 9/28

Just a few early sights as the players hit the ice today at GC.

Camp 3

Head coach Troy Mann is all smiles as he hits the ice for camp today.


Camp 2

Goaltenders Dan Ellis (left) and rookie Taran Kozun (right, WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds) loosen up before their first camp skate.


Camp 1

Head coach Troy Mann gives the opening speech as the players get set to start!


Back, Better Than Ever – 9/28

Training camp invitees Nick D'Agostino and Nick Jones, both defensemen, pore over their camp manuals at the opening meeting on Sunday, September 27.

Training camp invitees Nick D’Agostino and Nick Jones, both defensemen, pore over their camp manuals at the opening meeting on Sunday, September 27.


Figured I would write that very informally, and very loud.  Before we get to the matter at hand – the Bears’ 2015 Training Camp opening up today – I give a very special THANK YOU to the best, best, BEST creative, marketing and digital teams a company could possibly have for re-designing this blog page.  I know I am going to miss somebody, but I owe the crew of Ashley Eberly, Nicole Tran, Devon Sessoms, Jim Etherson and Andy Longenberger and their staffs a huge debt.  THANK YOU!!

Now, let’s hit the ice today, shall we?!

18 players (you read that correctly… EIGHTEEN) will begin their quest toward a roster spot in Chocolatetown at 10:00 am today at GIANT Center.  Head coach Troy Mann, assistant coaches Bryan Helmer and Ryan Murphy, goaltending coach Scott Murray and professional development coach Olie Kolzig are all here and have the players in a meeting as I write this.

Players will continue through camp with practices, off-ice workouts, meetings, video, and one-on-one coaching sessions.  Two pre-season games will take place here at the Den, on Thursday, October 1 at 7:00 (vs. Albany) and on Saturday, October 3 at 7:00 (vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton).

I would expect that our full team will be in place by next Wednesday, October 7… and quite possibly earlier.  More cuts should come from Capitals camp by tomorrow or Wednesday, thus allowing Hershey to field enough players to have two practice sessions here later in camp.

You can find the full roster in this release, and you can see where the guys last played, ages, stats, etc. right here.

Bears fans, look forward to a LOT of new material here and at throughout pre-season, regular season and playoffs.  We have some exciting news regarding our Hershey Bears app and website, just to name a few things, coming out in the next few weeks.  I certainly hope you like it and will pass the word to follow along here.

The 78th training camp of the Hershey Bears… STARTS NOW!!!