The Hershey Bears’ new coaching staff made a stellar debut on Friday night with a win against the Utica Comets. New bench boss Mike Haviland saw six of his players score in a game where visiting Utica tallied zero on the scoreboard. Five of the six goal-scorers donned the Chocolate and White for the first time last night, proving this young team has excellent potential to start a new era of Bears hockey.
The first to find the back of the net was Nathan Walker, who, with the help of defenseman Patrick Wey, fired a slapshot that rattled Comets’ goalie Joe Cannata’s throat guard before falling over the goal line. Walker’s first goal with Hershey was the cherry on top of an already great week for the rookie. Bears President/GM Doug Yingst announced Tuesday that the club had signed the 19-year-old Australian to an AHL contract for the 2013-2014 season.
Joining Walker on Friday night’s scorecard was Josh Brittain with an assist from Matt Watkins; a slapshot from Peter LeBlanc assisted by Chay Genoway and Stan Galiev; Genoway and LeBlanc assisting Derek Whitmore sinking’s backhand shot.
Tyler Ruesegger scored with help from forwards Brandon Segal and Ryan Stoa; and, for the sixth and final goal, Garrett Mitchell found the back of the net with a play assisted by forward Jamie Johnson and defenseman Julien Brouillette.
As fast as the Bears were knocking them in, Hershey’s goaltender David Leggio was knocking Comets shots down. Leggio was in mid-season form, stopping all 25 shots he faced in the crease. Hershey out-shot Utica with 30 shots on goals, and saw Cannata turn away 24 of them.
New Isn’t Always Better—The Newest Team in the League Faced the Oldest in Friday’s Match-up
Friday night’s game was not only the premiere of Haviland and assistant coach Ryan Mougenel, but also the second game ever for the newly formed Utica Comets. Based in Utica, New York, the Comets are the AHL affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Founded in 1932, the Comet franchise moved through six cities and six different names before it was announced in March 2013 that Canucks Sports & Entertainment, owners of the Vancouver Canucks, had purchased the franchise.
Vancouver ditched its previous AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, renamed the franchise and moved it to Utica, NY. It was just three month ago, on June 14th, that the Utica Comets name, affiliation, logo and jerseys—mirroring the Canucks’ blue, green and silver color scheme—were revealed. A month later, Travis Green was named head coach of the brand-spankin’ new team. The Comets are the second AHL team to call Utica home. Before them came the Utica Devils who played in the city from 1987 until 1993, and were an affiliated of the New Jersey Devils.
Friday night’s match-up leaves The Bears 1-0-0-0 in the pre-season, while Utica falls to 0-2-0-0. The Comets have already played their first pre-season game, which was a 5-2 loss Sunday night at Abbotsford. The Bears will continue their pre-season schedule today at 7:00pm when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins visit GIANT Center.
Annie Erling Gofus is a freelance writer living outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She currently writes for http://www.summitolympus.com/, a sporting goods retailer with its roots in hockey. Originally from North Dakota, Erling Gofus relocated to Washington, DC after graduating with a BA in History from North Dakota State University. She has worked in several fields, including the federal government, museums, and internet start-ups, before settling into her career as a writer. You can view some of Annie’s work at http://annerlinggofus.com/.