BY DON SCOTT
The new radio voice of the Hershey Bears, 38-year-old Scott Stuccio, is certainly no stranger to Hershey, having made the trip there many times in recent seasons from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“Yes, that’s for sure,” Stuccio said about visits to Chocolatetown while in a similar position with the Penguins. “What will be different this year, with the realignment, is you could see the Bears and Penguins in a conference final instead of a division semifinal. The rivalry between these teams has cemented itself, especially since the Bears went to the affiliation with Washington.
“The early days with Philadelphia, the Penguins weren’t around, and the days with Colorado weren’t the greatest days for Hershey,” Stuccio continued. “But since the Capitals took over, they have put guys here and things have been very good for the fans and players.”
The Bears received numerous inquiries and demo tapes when it was announced that former radio play-by-play announcer John Walton was leaving to join the Capitals, but it was “Stooch” who got the nod to replace him.
“Truthfully, I would not have applied for the job if it weren’t for John, I really wouldn’t have,” Stuccio admitted. “He said to me back in midsummer that there was something on his plate that looked very good for him and he asked me if I’d be interested. I was happy where I was, but he told me to give him a DVD if I was interested.
“Since I wasn’t planning on leaving Wilkes-Barre, which is my home, I had never put one together but I did it quickly and got it to Doug (Yingst) and a couple days later, John got the call he had the Washington job,” Stuccio added. “About two weeks after that, I was offered this job and here I am.”
Hired initially by Wilkes-Barre to do marketing in the summer of 2007, Stuccio, who was also going to be doing color work, took over as the play-by-play guy when Tom Grace left.
Stuccio was a member of the AHL All-Star Classic radio broadcasting team last January, and has a degree in meteorology from Penn State University. Prior to working for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he was the chief meteorologist at WYOU-TV in Wilkes-Barre.
Stuccio said the fans he has met at pre-season events for suite holders and season-ticket buyers have been very friendly and receptive toward him, which made him feel good about the move.
“Especially this year, I don’t want to make any changes from what John had been doing,” Stuccio said. “I’ll be doing a pre-game, the Old Barn Hockey Show and the Saturday night post-game call-in show that might not be on opening night, only because I’m still settling in. But eventually I do plan on doing that.
“John was always thinking of something new and that’s important because the broadcasting of hockey at any level has changed so much,” Stuccio continued. “For John, who is going in as the new guy in Washington, and for me here, it isn’t that comfortable but it will be. Once I get comfortable, I’ll be looking at some new and different things to put in.”
Last season, Stuccio served as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s color analyst when Grace returned, so the obvious question had to be which he preferred, to which he replied, “I’d rather do play-by-play because you feel more like you’re part of the action. It’s hard to pick because both jobs are fun. You really need to have played the game at a minimum of Division 1 level to be really effective at doing color.”
Stuccio didn’t start playing hockey until his freshman year in high school, because Wilkes-Barre didn’t have a rink.
“There was no arena until I was older, when I played intramural, and later in a men’s league as a goalie,” said Stuccio. “I did actually fill in a few times at Penguins’ practices but I don’t think that’ll happen here with the depth Hershey has.
“This is a great time to be here and around a team that looks great, too,” Stuccio added. “I know no one was happy with the way things ended last spring, which meant a lot of time until camp started, but now everyone is ready to go.”