Former Hershey Bears head coach Bruce Boudreau is back in Chocolatetown, and along with his wife Crystal, he’s bringing a new hockey team to Central Pennsylvania.
The longtime NHL head coach has purchased a junior hockey team in the United States Premier Hockey League’s (USPHL) Premier Division that is scheduled to play in Hershey, Pa., at historic Hersheypark Arena beginning in the 2021-22 season.
The Hershey-based USPHL club will be a Tier III Junior A team in the league’s Premier Division.
Players’ ages range from 17-to-20 years old. The league’s footprint features 62 teams across the United States, including the nearby Skipjacks Academy in York, Pittsburgh Vengeance in Harmar Township, and the Philadelphia Hockey Club in Sewell, New Jersey. The Boudreau’s are also owners of the USPHL Premier Division’s Minnesota Blue Ox, where their son, Brady, serves as an assistant coach.
“Crystal and I moved back to Hershey because we love the people, the town, and the history,” said Boudreau. “We started the Blue Ox in Minnesota, it went really well, and was a great addition to the community. We love working with the young men and the fans, and growing the game of hockey. We are hoping to do the same in Hershey. The only thing missing in the Hershey hockey landscape is a junior team. We hope to give back to the community, continue to grow the game, and share the history of hockey in Hershey.”
The team’s home of Hersheypark Arena will provide players an opportunity to skate in one of sports’ most historic venues. The Arena opened in 1936 and served as the home of the AHL’s
Bears until 2002, while also hosting iconic moments such as NBA star Wilt Chamberlain’s record 100-point game in 1962.
With his recent relocation to the Central Pennsylvania area, Boudreau is returning to the town where he coached the American Hockey League’s Bears to a Calder Cup Championship in 2006. In parts of three seasons as Hershey’s bench boss from 2005-07, Boudreau compiled a 103-45-11-16 record. He was promoted to Hershey’s NHL affiliate, the Washington Capitals in
2007, and has coached 13 seasons in the NHL with the Capitals (2007-2011), Anaheim Ducks
(2011-2016), and Minnesota Wild (2016-2020).
Boudreau, who won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year in 2008, has amassed a 567-302-115 (.635) record in 984 regular season games coached over his career.
“I am very excited to see the USPHL expand into the tradition-rich hockey market of Hershey,” said USPHL Commissioner Richard Gallant. “Hockey has been a big part of the Hershey community dating back 80-plus years, and for the USPHL to have Bruce and Crystal Boudreau, with their lifelong hockey knowhow and experience, introduce the USPHL to the local fans will be a home run for all involved.”
Boudreau added, “When we decided to bring a junior team to Hershey, the USPHL was the only league we considered. We feel it is the best junior program at its level, and we love working with Richard and the league to grow the game of hockey.”
Further information, including the new team’s name and logo, will be released in the coming months.