HERSHEY -- Legendary coach Frank Mathers and scoring champion Willie Marshall are part of the first-ever class of inductees to the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame.
The first group of enshrinees also includes Lloyd S. Blinco (builder), Arthur Fausnacht (official), Ralph Keller (player), Mike Nykoluk (player) and John B. Sollenberger (general).
In addition, Milton S. Hershey is being honored and recognized as the founder of the Hershey Bears franchise.
The hall of fame will be housed on the concourse level at GIANT Center.
"We are very excited to finally see the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame come to fruition," Bears President/General Manager Doug Yingst, who is on the selection committee, said in a statement. "After months of research and planning, we will recognize these seven individuals for their outstanding contributions to the game of hockey here in Hershey in just a few short weeks.
"We are also excited to see this Hall of Fame expand far beyond our 75th season in the American Hockey League."
The Class of 2012 will be inducted on December 19. The Bears will face the Norfolk Admirals that night at GIANT Center.
LLOYD S. BLINCO
Lloyd S. Blinco was associated with the franchise that ultimately became the Hershey Bears as a player, coach and executive from 1932 until his retirement in 1973. A native of Grand'Mere, Quebec, Blinco played for the inaugural Hershey B'ars team in 1932-33 and also served as head coach of the Hershey Cubs in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League in 1938-39. The late Blinco served as President and General Manager of the BEARS from 1949-73 and won the James C. Hendy Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding executive in 1968-69.
Arthur Fausnacht served as an AHL linesman for 23 years and an AHL goal judge for 26 years. The late Fausnacht was a graduate of the Hershey Vocational School.
Ralph Keller played for the Bears from 1963-74 and ranks first in club history for points by a defenseman (408) and games played by a defenseman (737). A native of Wilkie, Saskatchewan, Keller held the AHL record for goals scored by a defenseman (111) at the time of his retirement. Keller was named a first-team AHL All-Star in 1968-69 and captained the 1973-74 Hershey Calder Cup championship team.
Willie Marshall played for the Bears from 1956-63 and is the AHL's all-time leader in points (1,375), goals (523), assists (852) and games played (1,205). A native of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Marshall ranks fifth in all-time Hershey scoring (570 points in 439 games) and won the AHL scoring title with the Bears in 1958-59. Marshall was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2006.
Frank Mathers was associated with the Bears as a player, coach and executive from 1956 until his retirement in 1991. A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Mathers was voted a first-team AHL All-Star defenseman for five consecutive seasons from 1951-56 and ranks first in all-time Hershey coaching wins (610) and first in all-time AHL games coached (1,256). The late Mathers was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1987 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2006.
Mike Nykoluk played for the Bears from 1958-72 and ranks first in Hershey history in games played (972), points (808) and assists (636). A native of Toronto, Ontario, Nykoluk recorded 50-plus assists in seven straight seasons and was named the AHL's Most Valuable Player in 1966-67. Nykoluk was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.
JOHN B. SOLLENBERGER
John B. Sollenberger was credited with introducing hockey to Hershey in 1931 and helped found the first Hershey B'ars Hockey Club in 1932. Sollenberger led the Bears into what is now known as the AHL in 1938-39 and served as the club's General Manager until 1949. The late Sollenberger is the namesake of the John B. Sollenberger Trophy, awarded annually to the AHL's leading scorer.
Some information used in this story was provided by the Hershey Bears.