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Bears’ Yingst to retire after season

Doug Yingst, long-time president and general manager of the Hershey Bears Hockey Club, announced today his planned retirement at the conclusion of the 2015-16 hockey season and playoffs. Yingst made his formal announcement today during the pre-game festivities for the Bears’ first home game of the season at Giant Center.

“Since 1982, Doug Yingst has been a dynamic and vital part of the Hershey Bears hockey club and the entire Hershey Entertainment & Resorts family,” said Bill Simpson, President & CEO, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company (HE&R). “With his passion for this historic franchise, the American Hockey League and the sport, all the way through to the youth hockey level, it’s no wonder Doug has achieved the level of success he has throughout his career. I am proud of his accomplishments and thank him for his dedication to our winning legacy and devotion to sportsmanship, which have been synonymous with the Hershey Bears Hockey Club since its founding. On behalf of our dedicated fans, players, coaches, administration and all HE&R employees, I thank Doug for his service and loyalty to this storied club.”

Yingst, whose tenure as Hershey Bears team president and general manager will bypass the legendary Hockey Hall of Famer Frank Mathers at the conclusion of this season, will leave behind one of the winningest legacies in all of professional sports. Hoisting the Calder Cup five times during his career — including an AHL record-tying four as GM — Yingst led the Bears through the best five-year run in American Hockey League (AHL) history from 2006-10. During that time, the team won three Calder Cups (2006, 2009, 2010) and played in a fourth Finals in 2007.

During 2009-10, Yingst assembled a team that is still on top in the AHL record book. Throughout that season, new AHL benchmarks were established when the Bears won 34 games at home (including 24 consecutive wins), and 60 overall victories before rolling through the postseason.

Yingst was instrumental in bringing not one but two American Hockey League All-Star Classics to Hershey – the 1996 event held at Hersheypark Arena, and the 2011 edition held at Giant Center. Additionally, he orchestrated the first-ever outdoor game played in central Pennsylvania – the 2013 AHL Outdoor Classic – played at historic Hersheypark Stadium. He is also credited with establishing the Hershey Bears Hockey Club Hall of Fame in 2012, into which the fourth class will be inducted this season.

Yingst’s leadership and production of quality hockey has also been reflected in the Bears’ dedicated and loyal fan base. The team has led the AHL in attendance for the past nine seasons.

The AHL has recognized Yingst several times during his career. In 2007-08, he was named the winner of the Thomas Ebright Award, presented annually for outstanding career contributions to the AHL. He is also a two-time winner (1999-2000 and 2005-06) of the AHL’s James C. Hendy Memorial Award, presented to a team executive for outstanding contributions to the American Hockey League.

“Doug Yingst has had an unparalleled career as an executive in the American Hockey League,” David Andrews, president and chief executive officer of the American Hockey League, said. “I have been privileged to work with Doug Yingst at the league level for the past 21 years, and I have the utmost respect and appreciation for his contributions to the Hershey Bears, the AHL, and the game of hockey. He is, and always will be, a valued friend.”

Yingst has served as the Hershey Bears president/general manager since the 1997-98 season, and represents the club on the AHL’s Board of Governors. In 2010-11, he was named the chairman of the league’s Executive Committee, and has served previously as chairman of the AHL’s Competition and Marketing Committees as well as on the Rules and Regulations Committee.

Named the Bears’ general manager in 1996-97, Yingst won his first Calder Cup as GM the same season. From 1991-96, he was the assistant general manager/director of hockey operations for the team, and from 1988-91 he served as assistant general manager under Mathers. Yingst began his long career in the Hershey organization as the sales and promotions director in 1982, and also won the AHL’s Ken McKenzie award in 1988, given annually by the AHL to the person judged to have done the most to promote their team.

One of Yingst’s most cherished accomplishments in hockey came in February of 2000, when his Hershey Jr. Bears Pee-Wee hockey team won the 2000 Quebec Cup in Quebec City. In February of 2009 and again in February of 2010, the Jr. Bears repeated as Quebec Cup champions, the same two years that the Hershey Bears won back-to-back Calder Cup titles. Yingst again coached his team to the championship in February of 2012. Often compared to the Little League World Series in the United States, the Quebec Pee-Wee International Cup tournament brings more than 100 youth hockey teams to Quebec City every year.

Yingst has also been called into service from time-to-time as an assistant coach for the Bears – most recently in 2007 when Bruce Boudreau was named head coach of the Washington Capitals. In 2003, with head coach Mike Foligno hospitalized, Yingst teamed with interim head coach Paul Fixter to win Game 3 of the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals over the Chicago Wolves.

A charter member of the Palmyra High School Sports Hall of Fame, Yingst was inducted into the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in November of 2000 for his outstanding athletic career both on and off the field. Yingst starred for Palmyra High in football, basketball and baseball, captaining all three sports and was a Big 33 nominee. He was named all-Lebanon County in each sport, and played hockey at the same time. Yingst also played college football and continued playing hockey with the Johnstown Jets. He is an alumnus of Lebanon Valley College, and is also an active member of USA Hockey, serving as a coaching director.

Plans to honor Yingst for his contributions to the Hockey Club, youth hockey, central Pennsylvania community charities and the sport are in place and will be announced by the Bears during the course of the season.