Friday, November 11, 2011
Written by Dave Sottile
The 2011-12 season is the 10th at Giant Center for the Hershey Bears, and American Hockey League team has had the run of the place.
During construction of the $75 million facility, it was speculated that arena football would eventually be played there. That never happened, but the Bears are finally getting some company this winter.
The fledgling North American Lacrosse League begins play in January with the Hershey Haymakers and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Shamrocks competing against the Charlotte Copperheads, Jacksonville (Fla.) Bullies and Kentucky Stickhorses.
The Haymakers will play five home dates on Thursdays at Giant Center on Feb. 16, March 1 and 29, and April 5 and 12. All games begin at 7 p.m. A sixth home date is to be determined.
The team’s website does not list single-game ticket prices, but does say lower-level season tickets for the inaugural season start at $125.
Bears' Hanson a lax fan
The Shamrocks will call Mohegan Sun Arena home, a building they will share with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
Five of their six home games are also Thursdays: Jan. 19, Feb. 22, March 22 and 29 and April 5. The Shamrocks have a Friday-night home game on Feb. 10. All six home games begin at 7 p.m.
Like the Haymakers, the Shamrocks do not list single-game ticket prices on their website, but list four season ticket packages of six regular-season plus two playoff games costing $112, $152, $176 and $248.
Hershey Bears center Christian Hanson played lacrosse as a teenager and remains a fan of the sport today.
“I played in eighth and ninth grade, but then you get to a point where you have to make a decision on what sport you wanted to pursue,” Hanson said. “For me, that was hockey. But lacrosse is a big hand-eye coordination sport, and those skills really carry over onto the ice.”
Asked if he would go support the Haymakers, Hanson didn’t hesitate.
“Absolutely I’ll go see them play,” he said. “When I played in Toronto there was an indoor lacrosse team (in the National Lacrosse League), and that was a lot of fun to watch.
“That’s some hard-hitting stuff right there, especially indoors. Those guys really go at it. It’s amazing to see how little equipment the goalies actually wear, especially at the speeds those balls are coming at them. They stand in front of them and don’t even flinch.”
Hand-in-hand with hockey
Bears right wing Graham Mink never played lacrosse but seems intrigued by the sport so many people consider to be a warm-weather complement to his sport of choice.
“I know lacrosse goes hand-in-hand with hockey, and it’s getting to be more popular,” Mink said. “It just wasn’t available where I grew up in Vermont. We were lucky to have a soccer team and hockey team.
“I had 40 kids in my graduating class, so there’s not enough bodies. There was no football. We barely had enough guys for a basketball team and a hockey team.”
Had there been lacrosse available, could the veteran power forward imagined himself scoring goals on the field instead of on the ice?
“It would have been nice,” Mink said. “I probably would have enjoyed it because it looks like a fun sport. I probably would have played lacrosse in the spring instead of baseball, but I like baseball, too. Lacrosse is starting to get big where I’m from.”