The Hershey Bears now know their opponents, dates, and locations for the entire 2017-2018 season as the AHL released the schedules for all teams today.
The AHL normally does not release their schedules until a bit later in the summer, so as a way to add a bit of intrigue, the league released home openers for all teams yesterday with the promise of a full release today. They kept up the tease throughout the day today with tweets like the one below.
— AHL (@TheAHL) July 11, 2017
Additionally, in June, each team was given six guaranteed home dates for the season, but the opponents were not announced at that time with the lone exception of the 2018 Outdoor Classic, which will take place at Hersheypark Stadium. The Bears will host in-state rival, Lehigh Valley.
Carolina is back on the schedule as an in-conference opponent. Additionally, a few familiar faces with different jerseys are also on the schedule. In the off-season, the Senators affiliate moved to Belleville, New Jersey’s affiliate moved from Albany to Binghamton, and the Laval Rocket will now be the affiliate of Montreal after they moved from St. John’s. Rockford, Milwaukee, and Grand Rapids are the newcomers to Hershey’s schedule this season. The bears will meet these three on the road October 20-22. Milwaukee will visit Giant Center on December 2, Rockford will be in town February 24, and Grand Rapids makes a visit on March 11.
Obviously the 12 games against Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are the big ones. Nobody wants to lose to a rival and these games have been highly contested in the past. The Bears will open on the road in Lehigh Valley. Almost immediately they head west with that trip to Milwaukee on October 20, Grand Rapids on October 21, followed by a game in Rockford October 22. Additionally, they will see Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the first time on the road October 27. Hershey always holds a Teddy Bear Toss in December. They have a few dates to choose from: December 2 (Milwaukee), December 3 (WBS), December 9 (Lehigh Valley), December 10 (WBS), and Providence on December 13 and 16. Check Hershey’s website for promotions closer to the start of the season.
Plan a Road Trip
One road weekend not to miss would be February 16-19. Get your passports ready and head north of the border. Hershey starts in Laval on Friday night, then heads to Belleville Saturday before playing Toronto in the Air Canada Centre on Monday. If you were looking for a trip south, the Bears head to Charlotte twice. The first double-header in North Carolina will be December 20-21. The second will be April 7-8. Head a bit deeper south and take in a game with our ECHL affiliate, South Carolina if they are in town!
The Bears are hosting this once again. The last time Hershey hosted (January 20, 2011 against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), there were many wonderful activities including games played by a nearby Lebanon Valley College’s men’s team, an Alumni Classic, and lots of vendors, photo-ops, and giveaways. Lebanon Valley also now fields a women’s team, but as of yet there has not been any indicator if the teams will be playing as well. You can head over to the college’s athletic website to keep tabs on that.
Planning a Trip to Hershey
We put together a Guide to the Giant Center that is useful to first-time fans. It includes places to stay, things to do, and of course, where to eat. While the parking will be different for the Outdoor Classic as well as food options at that game, it will still provide useful information if you’re planning to head to Hershey that weekend as well.
The full schedule is available in PDF format on Hershey’s website.
By Julie Beidler