Thursday was Valentine’s Day, and the SHL celebrated with a full slate of games. Most teams didn’t make much of the holiday, but the Hershey Bliss pulled out all the stops for their game against Kansas City and treated their fans to what the team called “The Sweetest Game on Earth” (a play on the city’s slogan, “The Sweetest Place on Earth”).
For starters, all fans attending the game received a heart-shaped box with the Bliss logo on it, filled with (what else?) Hershey’s Kisses. The team replaced its usual in-game musical selections with romantic tunes, from “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to “As Long as You Love Me” to “Let’s Get It On.” The theme continued on the ice, as the team’s usual chocolate-bar shoulder patches were replaced with heart-shaped patches, as were the captain’s “C” and alternate’s “A”.
The Bliss turned their mascot Nibs into Cupid, complete with toga and angel wings. Throughout the game, Nibs went through the stands looking for loving couples. When he found them, he gave them gifts ranging from flowers to giant Special Dark bars to Hersheypark tickets to gift certificates to local restaurants.
“We wanted to show our appreciation to the couples who chose to spend their Valentine’s Day with us,” said Bliss GM Scott Lawrence. “Because what could be more romantic than a hockey game for two? That’s what I’ve tried to convince my wife, at least.”
The Bliss didn’t forget their single fans, either. The team held a “Blind Date” promotion, in which fans who bought special tickets in Section 214 were randomly seated beside other single Bliss rooters. Those who hit it off were offered two tickets for a future Bliss game. Lawrence said that several fans in the section took the team up on its offer. “Who knows? Maybe someday there will be a marriage out of it!” said Lawrence.
Unsurprisingly, the “Love Line” (Hershey’s top line of LW Lance Sweet, C Justin Valentine, and RW Christopher Hart) featured heavily in the promotion. The team held a silent auction to raffle off each of the trio’s game-worn jerseys, as well as a date with Hart (the only “Love Line” member who is still single). Proceeds from the silent went to the local Boys and Girls Club.
“To me, this is a really cool opportunity to give back to the community,” said Hart. “I mean, I go on dates all the time, but I don’t usually do it for charity!”
Perhaps inspired by all the love in the air, Hershey rolled to a 4-0 shutout win. The Love Line played their part in the rout: Valentine scored a goal and Hart had an assist.
Bliss coach “Chocolate Chip” Barber felt that the “Sweetest Game” was a fun promotion, and he hopes the team will do it again in the future. He did have one suggestion, though.
“You’re handing out all this chocolate to the fans, which is great,” said Barber. “But what about me? I was expecting to come in and find a bouquet of chocolate-covered strawberries on my desk, or one of those big Special Dark bars or something. But I got nothing. Where’s the love for the coach?”