At only 21-years-old, Vitek Vanecek had one of the best seasons a goalie could have at his age in the AHL. The young netminder went 18-10-7 in the regular season with five shutouts, despite a very rough month at the end of December through the end of January, where he went 0-5-2.

“I’ve said this to a number of people, you take out four weeks of his season, his numbers are excellent,” said head coach Troy Mann after the Bears game seven loss. “It’s unfortunate we played Lehigh and Wilkes-Barre for that stretch of hockey late-December and early-January.”

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The Hershey Bears’ 2016-17 season concluded on Wednesday evening with a 4-2 loss to the Providence Bruins in Game 7 of the Atlantic Division Finals. The Bears went down 3-1, and nearly came back, but stout defense from the Bruins kept Hershey off the board when they needed it most.

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Bruins Hand Bears 4-2 Loss to Force Game 7

On May 16, 2017, in Game Recap, by Corey Swartz

It looked pretty good for the Bears at the start of Game Six of the Atlantic Divison Finals. Two first-period goals put the Bears up 2-0 after one period. However, the next forty minutes would be a different story.

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Madison Bowey celebrates his game winning overtime goal against Providence in game five of the Atlantic Divison Finals Sunday afternoon in Providence (Kyle Mace / Chocolate Hockey)

The Hershey Bears faced a big challenge in Game 5 against the Providence Bruins Sunday afternoon. With a tied series, the Bears had the opportunity to come home with a lead or a deficit. They did just that thanks to another overtime win at Dunkin’ Donuts Center by a 3-2 final score.

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When goaltender Pheonix Copley was injured in game four of the Atlantic Divison Finals Friday night in Providence, both Bears players and fans alike held their breath. Copley had been stellar in the first two games on the road in the series, but now the Chocolate and White turn to Vitek Vanecek as Copley will miss game five due to his injury.

Vanecek, who has not allowed a goal in his last 104 minutes played, will get the nod on Sunday. The 21-year-old netminder faced nine shots after replacing Copley with only 42 seconds remaining in the second period.

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Riley Barber celebrates with Paul Carey after Carey’s fourth goal of the game on Saturday night against Hartford. (Kyle Mace / Chocolate Hockey)

The Hershey Bears defeated the Hartford Wolf Pack for the second time in as many nights behind four goals from Paul Carey. Hershey gets two more points to stay in fourth with rivals Bridgeport and Providence winning on this evening.

The Bears came out flying and were rewarded for their hard work as Carey picked up the puck and snapped a perfect shot over the glove of Mackenzie Skapski to make it 1-0 for the home team.

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Hershey Bears Have Epic Shootout During Practice

On January 4, 2017, in Video, by Kyle Mace

When I went to Bears practice, I was just planning on watching and getting a few quotes for a story we’ll be publishing Thursday. What ended up happening was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at a Bears practice.

At the end of the day’s skate, Troy Mann split the team into two squads: Black and White jerseys. Each team member took one shot on goal, trying to win bragging rights (and the chance to miss out on the forever popular suicide skate), for their team. At the end of each player shooting, the score was tied 3-3, meaning they head to overtime.

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In this episode of Chocolate Hockey Plays, Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek tackle the FIFA FUT Draft. After selecting a team, the two take on another person online. The results are hilarious.

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Any Hershey Bears fan would be able to recognize their favorite player if they encountered them off the ice, right? There is no other way to picture the athletes than as hockey players. As for people who have never attended a Bears game? They wouldn’t have any idea that the guy standing in line behind them is a professional ice hockey player.

I asked high school students who don’t know anything about the Bears what they believe their occupations are. The students were given head shots of eleven players with the jerseys cropped out. They did not know anything about the project being conducted. These are their answers:

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Vitek Vanecek Makes Incredible Stick Save

On October 31, 2016, in Video, by Kyle Mace

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In his first win of the season, Vitek Vanecek had a lot happen. He made some fantastic saves, his defense made some beautiful clearances, and his teammate and countryman Jakub Vrana gave up his number one star of the game to him. Oh yeah, and he also made one of the best saves you will see all season.

Early on in the third period, Lehigh Valley was attacking and put a nice wrist shot on net. Vitek would make the first save, but the puck came loose in front and got fed to Phantoms forward Andy Miele. That’s when one of the most acrobatic saves I have ever seen occurred.

Whether on purpose or by accident, Vanecek let his stick go flying. But the way he threw it, was perfectly in line with Miele’s shot, deflecting the puck away and preserving Hershey’s 3-2 lead. This is something you have to see.

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