If you’ve played a single season of beer league hockey, you’re familiar with the scene: gear bags resting by cars in a rink parking lot, the beer leaguers tipping back a cold one together after a skate. It was a bit early in the day for beer at 10:00 this morning when cars belonging to members of the Hershey Bears began arriving at the outdoor rink at the Milton Hershey School, and it was a bit chilly for parking lot tailgating. Some members of the media, new and old, however wouldn’t have passed on warming whiskey.
Each season the Milton Hershey School invites the Bears onto its sprawling and majestic campus for a morning practice skate at the school’s beautiful roof-covered sheet. Conditions today were ideal for it. Bears’ players dressed over at Giant Center and then drove about 10 minutes over to the rink, slinging their gear bags over their shoulders, sticks in one hand, smiling, shuffling toward dressing rooms in various-colored crocs.
What a terrific excuse to excuse myself from a day of work in the office and shiver a bit around the sheet with my friends in Chocolatetown. And snap a few pics.
Michal Neuvirth leads his very winning warriors out onto the Milton Hershey School sheet with early March chill abundantly battering media bones.
Bob Arehart is an assistant to the Bears training staff who’s been working home games for nearly 20 years.
Neuvy has an edge touched up just moments before the start of practice.
For about the final 15 minutes of Thursday’s skate head coach Mark French had his troops scrimmage three-on-three horizontally in one end. The competition was spirited!
The rink staff swore they stitched up the netting on this cage before the start of practice, but as you can see, the labor didn’t hold its repair particularly well.
Patriot News Bears’ beat writer Tim Leone, co-author of Gabby, took notes on practice fortified in mittens. He went to USC, you see.
I had a chance to conduct player interviews after the skate for John Walton Hockey. Andrew Gordon actually skated some pond hockey in Nova Scotia with a fellow Nova Scotian named Sidney Crosby. When I asked him if Crosby took dives out on the ponds like he does in rinks, he replied, smiling, “No comment.”
Thursday’s skate was either the first or second in the entirety of Michal Neuvirth’s life. I was shocked. Apparently all of his development hockey in the Czech Republic was indoors. Like Tim Leone, he didn’t much care for the outdoor conditions, telling us he’d just assume remain indoors. If the Caps host next season’s Winter Classic, perhaps Bruce Boudreau should be made aware of Neuvy’s skittishness for cold.