Bob Goodman played youth hockey at Hersheypark Arena and attended countless Hershey Bears games growing up. Goodman never realized his boyhood dream to be an NHL player, but in Hershey, he forged a path where hockey became his life’s work anyway.
“I’ve been officiating in the AHL since 1992 – for nearly 30 years,” Goodman, now 55, said when asked to describe his connection to the team. “I’ve written a book about the Bears, Forged On Ice, and also produced a documentary film, B’ars to Bears, on them as well. I was also on the Hershey Bears Hall of Fame committee.”
As an official, Goodman worked the 2011 AHL All-Star Game in Hershey, the 2008 and 2010 Calder Cup Finals, and Hershey’s 2013 outdoor game. He’s also participated as a Philadelphia Flyers’ video replay judge in the NHL.
Goodman’s deep history with the Hershey Bears franchise, from kid to adult, would become the theme of a personal pet project that brought him back to days of his youth: a custom Hershey Bears pinball machine.
The idea for the project first came to Goodman after receiving encouragement from his colleague Christian Line (Dr. Pin of The Super Awesome Pinball Show podcast) to check out the website for Gameroom Pinball. Brian Soares, the founder, is a pinball machine builder, designer, and technician. He was the go-to for custom machines, especially with sports-team themes.
“I looked up his website, saw his work, and thought ‘Damn, I’ve got to do this!'” Goodman said. “Christian then connected his friend to the project, illustrator and designer Joel de Guzman (alumnus from the Rhode Island School of Design), for the artwork since they had worked together in the past. I provided Brian and Joel with the details of the Bears’ history and they took it from there.”
Soares first got into pinball machines when he refurbished a Gottlieb Super Spin in 2006. A year or so later, a Gottlieb 4 Square machine became available from the same local seller. Soares’ kids were really big into the Disney Cars movie so he partially re-themed the machine and added a car stereo system to play the movie’s theme music. Shortly after, Soares fully rethemed a Williams Straight Flush to the Boston Red Sox.
“That is really where the hobby for me took off,” Soares said. “I initially created a blog site gameroompinball.com to get my creations online and then later created the site custompinballmachines.com which takes on commissioned projects.
“After completing the Red Sox game and wanting to build a New England Patriots version, my wife ‘encouraged’ me to sell the Red Sox machine,” Soares said. Sara at My Arcade Repair in Pelham, New Hampshire, and owner of the former Pinball Wizard Arcade offered to buy the Red Sox game. When she found out I was building a Patriots one, she wanted that too and then commissioned a Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins one. This is where it really got going. I had almost stopped at this point due to negative feedback from a few pinball purists, but I credit her as being the one who said keep building the games. People will love them.”
Since then, Soares has built created pinball machines with themes of the St. Louis Blues, Cincinnati Reds (for Comedy Central comedian Josh Sneed), Boston Legends, Jaws, Gremlins, Boston Bruins, Bruce Springsteen, FSU Seminoles, Ferrari, and the New York Yankees. He’s also created several pinball machines for celebrities like No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal and former WWE star and current AEW professional wrestler Matt Hardy.
Matt Hardy’s pinball machine is called the Expedition of Gold and it’s so epic, it has a website dedicated to it. Soares worked tirelessly with Hardy’s wife Reby for 18 months to complete the project.
The Hershey Bears pinball machine features incredibly detailed custom artwork, audio from Doc Emrick and every voice of the Bears since 1984, and cameos from all-time great Bears’ players like Frank Mathers, Mitch Lamoureux, and Chris Bourque. There are also some small details like chicken wire shielding, analog game clocks, and league standings from 1947. One fun small Easter egg detail is that Joel and his wife, Bob’s family, Christian’s family, and Brian’s family are all in the crowd.
In the end, the project took 10 months to complete and thousands of dollars to fund.
“Our goal was a vintage feel to the game to represent the Hershey Bears’ vast 80-plus year history,” Goodman said. “I just love the outcome.”
Coco the Bear is featured inside Hersheypark Arena with the old scoreboard in the background that shows the standings from 1947. The arched roof is shown, which is important because this was the first arena in North America ever built without pillars to support the roof. The rink is even protected by old school chicken wire.
Playfield and Plastics
The sides of the machine
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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