When the puck drops on Feb. 5 against Binghamton, it will end a 332-day drought of Hershey Bears hockey. The 2019-20 season was paused on March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the 2020-21 season often thought in jeopardy as well.

The Bears announced Friday a 36-game regular season schedule, less than half of a normal AHL season. Hershey will rotate three teams: Binghamton, Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The season already deemed unprecedented with the few number of games, the lack of hotel stays due to geography of opponents, and the latest start date in AHL history. Still operating under significant protocols due to COVID-19 and the AHL’s policies, much of the 2021 season will look different.

Many fans wondering if they will be allowed inside the Giant Center this season, received good news on Friday. The Bears will allow some fans to attend games.

“A very limited number of seats will be available for home games,” the Bears said in a released statement. “The club is finalizing on sale details for games in February and will share more information as soon as possible. Season Ticket Holders will have an opportunity to purchase single game tickets as part of an exclusive Season Ticket Holder presale.” 

In an exclusive interview, abc27 sports anchor Allie Berube asked Bears Vice President of Hockey Operations Bryan Helmer about the challenges this season presents. The two discuss how close the season came to being canceled, the introduction of fans to the Giant Center and much more.