BY DON SCOTT
For the first time in ten years, former Hershey Bear forward Rob Shearer will be playing hockey in this country. Following a five-year stay in Hershey from 1996 to 2001, “Shearzy” spent the next decade in Europe, but this season the Mechanicsburg resident will be playing in the ECHL for the Reading Royals, coached by another former Bear Larry Courville.
“Following my time in Hershey, I went to Finland and stayed overseas after that playing last season in Austria,” Shearer said recently, prior to his first appearance in the annual Frank Mathers Golf tournament. “I enjoyed playing in some great cities in Europe and my wife and family enjoyed it, too so it worked out for us.
“With my son going to school, we decided it was time to stay here, Shearer continued. “We debated about me going back to Austria and the family staying here, but ultimately decided to do it this way. I’ll be making the drive to Reading every day, but Larry (Courville) did that when he lived around here, so that’ll give time to rethink things after games.”
Three of the five years Shearzy played for Hershey – the only professional USA team he ever played for – he scored 20-plus goals.
“I enjoyed every one of the years with a great organization that does a great job,” Shearer exclaimed about his time with the Bears. “My first season we won the Calder Cup and that is certainly a highlight of my career, especially doing it in my first pro year.
“There were a lot of overtime games (five in the four series) with the big three overtime game against Philadelphia,” Shearer continuued. “They had such a strong team and we had lots of battles with them that were a lot of fun. Two of the series we were down 1-3 and came back to win because we had some great veteran players at the time who kept us focused and ready to go.”
Then he added: “When you start to battle back the momentum shifts and that was the case for us. Down 1-3 is definitely not a position you want to be in but it worked out for us and made for a great playoff run.”
When asked if he recalled who got the game-winner in the triple OT game with the Phantoms he admitted he didn’t, until given a little help, then he shouted:”Blair Atcheynum!”
“He was an unbelievable player and in goal we had J.F. Labbe who I saw a couple years ago when he was in Austria,” said Shearer. “It started with Kentucky, who we played often in first round, then Philly, Springfield and Hamilton.”
Shearer played 377 games for the Bears scoring 105 goals, with 168 assists for 273 points and he spent 294 minutes in the penalty box.
As to why he left and went to Europe, he replied: “I went because that was the year of the lockout and things just fell in place. I thought I had a two-way NHL contract but that fell apart at the end and the IHL was folding.
“A guy I knew in Europe asked if I’d be interested and I thought, ‘Why not?’ because I heard a lot of good things about playing there,” Shearer added. “I figured I’d go for a year and it became ten, the last six with Austria. We stayed in the same place each season and it worked out great for us.”
Shearer did play in two NHL games with Colorado his final season before departing this country.
“I had my cup of coffee, but it didn’t have time to get cold,” Shearer laughed. “I did get there and that’s something I’m really proud of.”