HERSHEY, Pa. – The AHL has revealed team schedules for the 2020-21 shortened season, and the Hershey Bears will return to play for the first time in 11 months when they travel to Newark to face the relocated Binghamton Devils in their season-opening game.
Hershey will kick off the season on February 6 at 4:00 PM at the Giant Center and play just three teams across 36 games against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and Binghamton Devils. The Bears will face each team six times at home and six times on the road, with the last game being played on May 16th at 3:00 PM versus Wilkes-Barre. The full schedule is below:
By far, the most surprising aspect of the announcement is the reveal that the Bears will have a limited number of fans in attendance for home games. Season ticket holders will have priority for these tickets, but more specific details are still to be determined. Ticket purchases will be happening through Ticketmaster and must be purchased separately from any previous plans. Season ticket holders will be receiving a few perks like free AHL TV, an additional Hersheypark ticket, and an additional 10% credit towards next season’s balance. For some of those gifts, the account must be paid in full.
It’s a different looking schedule condensed down to a pair of rivals and one newer opponent. Hershey has not seen much of the Binghamton Devils since the clubs were arranged into different divisions several years ago. They’ll become a regular fixture on this season’s schedule, but another new wrinkle will be a plethora of new and unusual times compared to what Bears fans are used to. The Bears play 17 games on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as one Wednesday game at Giant Center, but only that Wednesday game (on April 14) will be a 7:00 PM start time. All home games will have a 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM, or 4:00 PM start time, something which was only seen rarely on past iterations of the Bears’ schedule, such as Super Bowl Sunday or the last game before Christmas.
Another wrinkle that fans and players alike will certainly appreciate is an abundance of spacing between games. No three-in-threes this season, and the earlier start times will give a very different feeling to the season. There will still be some games with the regular 7:00 start time, such as games in Lehigh Valley, but those games will be the exception rather than the norm. The spacing will certainly allow teams time to move and teams to clean the facility much more easily, so everything is done out of an abundance of caution.
It’s an exciting return to hockey season, and although the Bears and their fans will certainly be seeing less variety in terms of opponents, it’s never looked so good to get back into the swing of things. There are 36 games on the calendar, and it’s going to be fun to start playing hockey.
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