The Hershey Bears have announced that the club has signed forwards Kevin O’Neil and Tyson Empey to American Hockey League contracts for the 2023-24 season. Both players are very likely destined for South Carolina in the ECHL.
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O’Neil, 25, played in two games with Hershey last season on a professional tryout. He made his AHL debut on Dec. 27 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and potted his first AHL goal on Dec. 31 versus Providence.
The Latham, New York native played 53 games for Hershey’s ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays last season, posting 50 points (24g, 26a). He tied for the team lead in goals and ranked third in points during his rookie campaign. He earned ECHL Player of the Week honors for the week of March 27-April 2 after posting six points (5g, 1a) in three games.
The 5’11”, 180-pound forward also played three games last season with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles.
Empey, 28, produced three points (1g, 2a) in 16 AHL games with the Tucson Roadrunners during the 2022-23 season, and added nine points (4g, 5a) in 20 ECHL games with the Atlanta Gladiators.
The 6’2”, 205-pound forward has recorded 15 points (4g, 11a) and added 127 penalty minutes in 79 career AHL games with Tucson. He logged 100 penalty minutes in 63 games with Tucson in 2021-22, including 10 fighting majors.
He has also collected 27 points (10g, 17a) in 83 ECHL games with Atlanta and Rapid City.
Prior to turning pro, the native of Swift Current, Saskatchewan played collegiate hockey for the State University of New York – Geneseo, where he was part of three consecutive SUNYAC conference titles between his sophomore and senior seasons. As a sophomore and junior, he received SUNYAC Second Team All-Conference honors, and in his senior campaign, he was named SUNYAC Third Team All-Conference. In 92 career games with the Knights program, Empey generated 103 points (54g, 49a).