HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Bears, in conjunction with the American Hockey League, revealed the schedule for their 85th season in franchise history on Thursday. The schedule consists of 72 games, down from the 76 of past seasons, to bring all teams to the same total at long last. This season’s schedule features some similar beats to last season, with 15 home games on Saturdays, 12 on Sundays, and three games each on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from the friendly confines of Giant Center. Hershey’s opponents consist exclusively of Eastern Conference opponents, with 26 games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (12) and Lehigh Valley Phantoms (14) taking up the largest portion of the calendar. Other frequent foes include the Charlotte Checkers (8), Bridgeport (6), Hartford (6), and Providence (6).
Hershey’s season will open with a pair of home games hosting the Utica Comets for the season opener on October 15 followed by a visit from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms the following afternoon. October features seven games in total, with a three-game road swing intersecting four home games. November is Hershey’s busiest month of the season with 13 games, with a stretch of six of seven at home followed by a stretch of four of five on the road. The traditional Thanksgiving Eve clash has been nixed this season, replaced with a different tradition making its return in December with a New Year’s Eve clash with the Providence Bruins. Hershey’s 12 games in the final month of 2022 features seven home contests and includes five straight games with the Penguins and Phantoms as opponents through Christmas. Proximity may be a factor in that scheduling in the event of any weather or health-related elements that would affect games.
The Bears will have the first week of 2023 off until they host the Checkers in the midst of a season-high seven game homestand. Hershey will have a shorter version of the Canada road trip that they experienced last season, traveling to just Laval and Belleville but will play the last two games of a four-game road swing in Allentown, cutting down on the overall travel a bit that week. February sees some variety to the schedule, as well as a break for potential All-Star festivities on either the first or second week of the month, with no repeating opponents other than three installments of the Phantoms rivalry. In a similar fashion to a year ago, the Bears will wrap up their season series with the Penguins early with the last matchup on March 1 as part of a five game homestand that marks the last big home slate of the season. Hershey has just five home games over the last six weeks of the season, including division foes for their last six games as part of the playoff push, and will wrap up the season on April 15, much as the season began, against the Phantoms. Hershey will only play six sets of three games in three nights this season.
Much like last season, the nominee for strangest day/time start is no doubt March 29, a Wednesday, where the Bears will be north of the border to take on the Toronto Marlies in an 11:00 AM start time. Although the time is unusual, the two teams have a history of these kinds of games, as they previously dueled at about the same start time in the 2018-19 season, where the Chocolate and White blanked the Marlies by a 3-0 count. Last season, Hershey visited for a 1:30 PM start on a Thursday, where it was the home team’s turn to earn a shutout in a 3-0 count. Hershey’s preseason schedule, as well as their promotional calendar, are yet to be revealed, although it’s likely the team will play their preseason slate the week preceding the start of the regular season. The promotional calendar will reveal the date of the Teddy Bear Toss, which was moved from its normal timing in December to January in 2021-22. The highly anticipated event sold out as Bears fans broke their own record with 52,341 stuffed animals hitting the ice, and the fanbase will look to continue shattering its record in the new season.
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