What began several years ago as a humble and modest offseason gathering of American Hockey League broadcasters for a weekend of golf and poker (and a few puck sodas) has given rise to a full-fledged meet-and-greet with the broadcasters event for the hockey-loving community of Hershey, Pa. For each of the past three years, radio voice of the Bears John Walton has hosted an informal offseason get-together with his AHL broadcast peers, the weekend’s agenda featuring poker and a round of golf at Hershey’s Fairview Golf Course. And some grilling and liquid refreshment.
Prior to the festivities this year, however, Hershey Bears fans flocked to the Hershey Lodge on Friday for an hour-long chat with Walton and Bears’ beat writer Tim Leone of the Patriot News. It was a most welcomed oasis of hockey talk as mid-summer mugginess outside made reminiscing on the thrills of yet another Calder title in Chocolatetown difficult to carry off.
Joining Walton and Leone for the panel discussion, which was sponsored by the Patriot News, were voice of the Adirondack Phantoms Owen Newkirk and voice of the Binghamton Senators Grady Whittenburg.
The event, originally slated for the Bears’ Den, was moved to a nearby meeting room in the Lodge as an estimated 75 fans dedicated an August afternoon to discussing hockey. The four-man panel fielded a wide range of queries from the audience, the topics ranging from the Bears’ recent Calder Cup victory to the Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltending situation to how the opposition feels about visiting Giant Center. A rousing success—the afternoon drew an enthusiastic crowd, hungry for the return of hockey to Hershey.
I captured some video of the exchange so that hockey fans back in Washington wouldn’t feel left out. There are heatwaves ahead before we can enter rinks in Hershey and Washington for training camp, but this bit of pucktalk might help lessen your separation anxiety.