Free agency is a tense time for hockey fans. Favorite players leave, and new faces come in. For the Hershey Bears, favorites Mason Morelli and Garrett Pilon have moved on to other organizations, but there’s good news, too!
Guess Who’s Back? Back Again:
Hershey Bears Captain Dylan McIlrath is making a return to Chocolate Town! Signing a two-year, two-way deal. After a unanimous vote by his teammates, the 6’5″, 232-pound defenseman was given the C in the 2022-2023 season. McIlrath was a great choice, as his even-keeled demeanor in the locker room makes him a great leader. He leads by example and keeps the younger players in line. One such example is when then-teammate Shane Gersich was fixing to get himself in hot water by mouthing off to the officials, Captain Mac shoved him away with a stern warning to skate away, and Gersich heeded his warning.
Dylan was always the big man you didn’t want to mess with on the ice, but off the ice, he was a teddy bear. The ultimate family man. He could often be seen blowing kisses and waving to his two young children during pre-game skates. But his role on the ice was the enforcer. He kept the opposing teams honest and from taking cheap shots at our players. Every player in the league knew not to poke the bear (pun intended). They knew that if they took liberties with any of ‘Big Mac’s’ teammates, they’d have to pay the piper. And very rarely, if ever, did McIlrath lose a fight. One of the most memorable fights in the season came on November 20th, 2022, vs. the Hartford Wolfpack, when Dylan McIlrath and Matt Rempe (one of the players that might have longer arms reach at 6’7″) dropped the gloves at center ice at GIANT Center. The fight started a little slow, with Rempe getting the first punches. But, ‘Big Mac’ never quits and saw his opportunity when he got Rempe off-balance, causing him to drop his head. McIlrath took full advantage with a right uppercut straight to the nose. It. Was. Awesome. McIlrath ended the regular season with 102 penalty minutes.
Photo Credit: The Hershey Bears
New Blood, New Life:
The Hershey Bears have signed two new forwards, Pierrick Dubé and Matthew Phillips.
Pierrick Dubé played for the Laval Rocket in the 2022-2023 season, recording 32 points in 44 games. Dubé is from Lyon, France. He was signed to a two-year Entry Level Contract. The 5’9″, 172-pound forward played Junior hockey in the QMJHL, tallying 149 points in 219 games with three different teams. He was a linemate of Hendrix Lapierre, so there will be familiarity in the organization.
Matthew Phillips played for the Calgary Wranglers in the 2022-2023 season, being an alternate captain for the team. The 25-year-old Calgary, Alberta native recorded 76 points in 66 games with his former club. He was 2nd in the league in scoring. He was signed to a one-year, one-way deal. The 5’8″, 180-pound forward was on the AHL All-Star team in 2022-2023. He is one of the AHL’s top offensive talents.
With a good veteran core and some new young players, the Bears are shaping up to have a good season ahead.
Photo Credits: The Hershey Bears