HERSHEY, Pa. The Hershey Bears announced on Thursday that the team has re-signed forward Kale Kessy to a two-year AHL contract. The deal extends Kessy after he completed his second season with the Bears in 2021.
In Hershey, there’s no shortage of respect for the tough, hard-nosed style of hockey that forward Kale Kessy brings to the Bears every time he pulls on the Chocolate and White sweater. Hershey respects and adores its gritty, scrappy players to near-legend status, whether it is the legendary battles waged by Joel Rechlicz over his tenure in Hershey, Tim Spencer, or the players like Grant McNeill or Louis Robitaille during the early days of the Washington affiliation, it’s a role that few in the game are qualified to fill. That time-honored tradition has been carried out and then some by Kessy, but the forward expanded his game in a way that’s earned him another go-around as a Bear in 2021-22.
Most importantly, Kessy is a well-liked guy by everyone in the locker room and the coaching staff, and plays an important role in big games that made the season series between the Bears and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins must-watch hockey. Kessy’s ongoing feud with the Penguins helped balance out what was a very tough set of games between two rivals that saw Lucas Johansen, Martin Fehervary, and Brian Pinho all sustain injuries over the course of the season. Several Penguins players paid the price, such as when Kyle Olsen hit Fehervary in front of the Wilkes-Barre bench and had to answer to Kessy for it.
However, like a number of young Bears players who might be fighting for playing time, Kessy enjoyed having a consistent presence on Hershey’s roster throughout the season and carved out a position as an energy player on the fourth line. Paired most often with Riley Sutter and Mason Morelli, the trio combined to bring a lot of high-energy, physical shifts that were pivotal in swinging momentum to the Bears. Not to mention, Kessy potted six points (two goals, four assists) over 21 total games this season, showing that there’s skill in addition to the toughness he possesses. Spencer Carbery had high praise for Kessy at the end of the season, emphasizing that the skills he brings are important to the team’s success.
“He does have a really good skill set, you just see the pins and the scraps a lot but that’s part of his game,” Carbery said on Kessy. “He can finish, make plays off the wall, he’s one of our best wingers at handling the puck off the wall and make plays for us, penalty kill for us. There’s been some bad blood brewing with that group, typical Wilkes-Hershey, right? We’ve had some battles with them and situations where our guys weren’t happy with them so you knew playing them in the last game of the season, it would be a competitive game tonight.”
Most memorably, Kessy scored a pivotal tying goal in a back-and-forth contest in Wilkes-Barre on May 1. Riley Sutter fired a pass that was deflected slightly by Mason Morelli and saw Kessy split the Penguins defenders who were caught flat-footed. Kessy protected the puck and made an excellent move to score and even the game at three, and eventually, Connor McMichael would end the game in overtime with another brilliant finish.
This season was a statement for Kessy in taking what was given to him and running with it. Naturally, some things stayed the same for Kessy, such as leading the league in penalty minutes and being the only player in the league to reach triple digits at 115 (of Hershey’s 575 total, second highest in the league) but Kessy demonstrated that it’s not only an important element to have amongst Hershey’s skill players, but that he can chip in offensively as well. It goes a long way towards long-term success for the Bears, and it’s a winning proposition for Kessy to stay in Hershey.
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