The Hershey Bears are ready for puck drop ahead of their season-opening matchup against the Belleville Senators, Saturday night.
The team announced its 31-player, Opening Night roster that includes 19 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders.
The Bears feature 16 returning players from the 2023 Calder Cup Championship team, including 2023 AHL Playoff MVP Hunter Shepard and Capitals prospects Hendrix Lapierre and Vincent Iorio. Ivan Miroshnichenko and Alexander Suzdalev have both made the Bears and will play their rookie seasons in the AHL.
Joe Snively and Nic Aube-Kubel, two forwards who spent big chunks of last season in the NHL, will join the team’s forward ranks along with longtime veterans Mike Sgarbossa and the scorer of the Bears’ Game Seven, Calder Cup championship-winning goal, Mike Vecchione.
On defense, the Bears will integrate Hardy Haman Aktell, who the Capitals signed away from the SHL over the offseason. The six-foot-four Haman Aktell impressed during the NHL preseason and was one of the Capitals’ final cuts. The Swede will join mainstay rearguards from last season’s team: Dylan McIlrath, Aaron Ness, and Logan Day.
Shepard will be backed up in goal by Clay Stevenson, who went an undefeated 3-0-0 and posted a 1.96 goals against average and 0.924 save percentage in his AHL debut season.
The Hershey Bears’ full press release is below.
HERSHEY BEARS ANNOUNCE 2023 OPENING NIGHT ROSTER
Defending Calder Cup Champions open 2023-24 season on Saturday night versus Belleville at GIANT Center
(Hershey, PA – October 13, 2023) – The Hershey Bears have announced the club’s 2023 Opening Night Roster. The reigning Calder Cup Champions take the ice on Saturday, Oct. 14 at GIANT Center as they start their title defense versus the Belleville Senators at 7 p.m.
Hershey’s 2023 Opening Night Roster is as follows:
Forwards (19): Nic Aube-Kubel, Pierrick Dube, Ethen Frank, Ryan Hofer, Jimmy Huntington, Hendrix Lapierre, Alex Limoges, Ivan Miroshnichenko, Julian Napravnik, Dmitry Osipov, Garrett Roe, Henrik Rybinski, Mike Sgarbossa, Joe Snively, Matt Strome, Riley Sutter, Alex Suzdalev, Bogdan Trineyev, Mike Vecchione
Defensemen: (9): Logan Day, Hardy Haman Aktell, Vincent Iorio, Nicky Leivermann, Jake Massie, Dylan McIlrath, Aaron Ness, Chase Priskie, Colin Swoyer
Goaltenders (3): Garin Bjorklund, Hunter Shepard, Clay Stevenson
Hershey’s 2023 Opening Night Roster features 16 players who were part of the 2023 Calder Cup Championship. Up front, returning players include alternate captain Mike Vecchione who tallied the Game 7 overtime goal to give Hershey its 12th championship, Ethen Frank, who paced the club with 30 goals in 2022-23, and Mike Sgarbossa, the team’s leading scorer last season. On the blue line, alternate captain Aaron Ness is back for his seventh season with Hershey while team captain Dylan McIlrath returns for his third campaign. Between the pipes, 2023 playoff MVP Hunter Shepard returns to the Chocolate and White.
Top Washington Capitals prospects include first round draft picks Hendrix Lapierre (2020, 22nd overall) and Ivan Miroshnichenko (2022, 20th overall) up front, as well as returner Vincent Iorio and newcomer Hardy Haman Aktell on the blue line.
Saturday’s Opening Night starts the 2023-24 season, presented by Penn State Health. Prior to puck drop, the Bears will host the Calder Cup Banner Raising Ceremony and fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:40 p.m. The first 10,000 fans will receive a Calder Cup Champions Mini Banner, presented by Members 1st. Limited tickets remain and are available via Ticketmaster.
Headline photo: @TheHersheyBears/X
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