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Game Preview: Bears at Crunch, 7 p.m.

December 8, 2023 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Hershey Bears News Release


(Syracuse, NY) - The Hershey Bears close out a four-game road trip with their lone visit of the season to the Salt City, as Hershey gets set to face the Syracuse Crunch tonight. The Bears carry a season-high nine-game winning streak into tonight's match. Last season, Hershey won both of its games against Syracuse; the Bears will host the Crunch at GIANT Center on Saturday, March 16. Tonight's game starts a three-in-three for Hershey, as the Bears will host Cleveland on Saturday and Charlotte on Sunday; it is the second of four three-in-threes Hershey will play this season.

Hershey Bears (18-4-0-0) at Syracuse Crunch (12-5-0-2)

December 8, 2023 | 7 p.m. | Game 23 | Upstate Medical University Arena

Referees: Mathieu Menniti (30), Adam Tobias (16)

Linespersons: Dylan Blujus (70), Jason Brown (44)

Broadcast Information

Voice of the Bears, Zack Fisch on the call

RADIO: WFVY-100.1 FM, Fox Sports 1460-AM, SportsRadio 98.9-FM & WOYK 1350-AM, Capitals Radio

WATCH LIVE: AHLTV

LISTEN LIVE: Fox Sports AM-1460 Stream, Caps Radio 24/7

Radio pre-game coverage starts at 6:30 p.m.

LAST TIME OUT:

The Bears earned their ninth consecutive win last Saturday, a 5-2 win at Charlotte. After trailing the Checkers 1-0 after the first period, Aaron Ness netted his first of the season at 4:41 of the second period to tie the game. Ethen Frank scored twice (11:15, 15:04) to put the Bears up by two before the end of the frame. In the third, Joe Snively scored at 4:38 to extend the lead to three goals, before Lucas Carlsson beat a screened Clay Stevenson at 6:41. With Charlotte goaltender Ludovic Waeber pulled, Frank completed his hat trick with an empty-net power-play goal at 17:57. The Crunch have also been idle since Saturday, when they picked up a 3-1 win at Toronto. Mitchell Chaffee led the way with a pair of goals for the Crunch, while Hugo Alnefelt made 35 saves, including 18 in the third period, to preserve the victory for Syracuse.

MILESTONE IN SIGHT:

At 18-4-0-0 through 22 games, the Bears are off to their best start in franchise history. Should Hershey win two of its three games this week, the Bears will shatter the team mark for fastest 20 wins. The 2008-09 Bears team reached the 20-win plateau in their 26th game, a 3-0 victory over Norfolk on Dec. 7, 2008, to cap an 11-game winning streak. At only 22 games played, Hershey has some wiggle-room to best or match the record. While on their current nine-game winning streak, the Bears have out-scored opponents 36-20.

BREAKING DOWN THE CRUNCH:

The largest change for Syracuse this offseason was behind the bench, as the organization moved on from longtime head coach Benoit Groulx - enter Joël Bouchard, who previously coached in the AHL with Laval (2018-21) and San Diego (2021-22), where he oversaw the Gulls during current Bears forward Alex Limoges' rookie year. The Crunch have won four straight overall - and seven of their last nine since Nov. 11 - to hold second place in the North Division with 26 points (12-5-0-2). The team has matched its 19-game start from 2018-19 (12-5-2-0), a season which saw the Crunch set a franchise record for highest points percentage (.671).

HUNTINGTON MAKES RETURN:

Tonight's game will likely mark the return of Jimmy Huntington to Upstate Medical University Arena. An undrafted free agent signing by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019, Huntington spent parts of his first three pro seasons with their AHL affiliate in Syracuse, where he collected 29 points (11g, 18a) in 88 games for the Crunch before he was traded to the Nashville Predators in early 2022.

CHECK THOSE GAGE-S:

Fresh off a three-point game that included his 100th career AHL point, Crunch forward Gage Goncalves nabbed three more points over two games this past week. The third-year pro tallied a goal in the Crunch's 4-3 win Friday at home against the Marlies and then he added two assists in the completion of the home-and-home set on Saturday. After going five games without a point, Goncalves has six (2g, 4a) in his last three games to move into a tie for the team lead in scoring with 17 points (4g, 13a).

BEARS BITES:

Crunch general manager Stacy Roest's final season in North America during his playing career was in 2002-03 with the Grand Rapids Griffins, when current Bears head coach Todd Nelson was in his first season as an assistant with Grand Rapids...Linesperson Dylan Blujus is in his first season as a member of the AHL officiating crew after concluding a nine-year playing career that spanned 362 games in the AHL, including 151 contests over three seasons for Syracuse...Hershey leads the AHL with 14 regulation wins...Hershey is 14-1-0-0 when scoring in the first period this season...The Bears are 14-0-0-0 this season when leading after the second period...Hershey is 9-1-0-0 this season in games decided by one goal...The Bears are 11-0-0-0 when Pierrick Dubé records at least a point, and are 8-0-0-0 when he scores a goal...Joe Snively is three games away from his 200th professional contest...Alex Limoges has five points (2g, 3a) in his last four games...Aaron Ness has four points (1g, 3a) in his last three games...Riley Sutter has nine points (4g, 5a) in his last eight games...Hershey is averaging the fewest penalty minutes per game, at 9.18...Bears defender Chase Priskie played 15 games for the Crunch during the 2020-21 campaign, where he registered seven points (3g, 4a).

ON THIS DATE:

Dec. 8, 1973 - The Bears came back from behind three separate times to tie the game against the Providence Reds before pulling ahead in the third period and earning a 5-3 victory at Hersheypark Arena. Captain Ralph Keller scored Hershey's first goal midway through the opening period with a 50-foot blast for his first of the season and his 104th career AHL goal - a record at the time for defensemen - while Steve Andrascik broke a 3-3 tie at 19:21 of the third period and then sealed the game with an empty-net tally at 19:53.


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