The wait is finally over. The Hershey Bears host their divisional rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the Capital BlueCross AHL Outdoor Classic today at Hershey Park Stadium, following the Alumni game Saturday afternoon. Hershey holds a 6-2 record against their biggest rival, as they look to continue their dominance over Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate starting at 5 PM this evening.
Dany Sabourin will get the start in goal for Hershey, which Mark French announced after the Bears loss Friday night to the Lake Erie Monsters.
“I’m really happy to be back practicing and playing,” said Sabourin. “To play outside I was looking forward to it right at the beginning of the season when I saw we were playing outside. I didn’t know I was going to play, I’m not assuming anything, but I was really happy when I got the call that I was going to play. It’s going to be a good experience.”
Sabourin has been on the bench in two Outdoor Classics, with the Hershey Bears against the Adirondack Phantoms last season, and as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Buffalo Sabres a few years back.
“I’ve been on bench for two of them,” said Sabourin. “One in Buffalo and one last year, so the third one is a lucky one.”
Both teams will have to adapt to the climate Sunday night, especially near the end of the game as the sun goes down.
“The weather is something you don’t control,” the veteran goalie said. “You never know how it’s going to be, it’s a good thing we’re going to practice there Sunday morning and get a feel. It’s a little different when the stands are so far away, it’s something you want to get used to really quickly for warm-ups, for the game.”
“It’s always a good game against Wilkes-Barre,” Sabourin said of the Bears success over their rival. “It’s always a tight game and I think the last few games we came up with the win except the last one, but I expect another tonight game on Sunday.”
Hershey forward Jeff Taffe was a teammate of Sabourin in Pittsburgh and gets another shot at the Outdoor Classic.
“It’s great for him [Sabourin],” said Hershey’s assist leader. “Obviously he’s done a great job this year. Hasn’t got in as many games as he thought he was going to, he’s out there every day working hard and practicing for us. It’s great to see him great the start.”
“It’s going to be fun,” said Taffe after Hershey’s loss on Friday. “I think this is a game we really needed to win to get on a good streak here at home. I think guys will put it behind us after tonight and move on to this Outdoor Game which I think has been a lot of excitement in the town, so it will be fun to see tomorrow.”