Friday, October 31, 2008

Bears @ Albany Preview

Hershey Bears
record ~ 7-2-0-0 14 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-0 Loss @ Hamilton, 10/29
last 5 games ~ 3-2
road record ~ 4-1
goals for ~ 44
goals against ~ 31

Albany River Rats
record ~ 1-4-1-0 3 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss vs Philadelphia 10/25
last 5 games ~ 1-3-1-0
home record ~ 1-2-1-0
goals for ~ 13
goals against ~ 21

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17) - Was he even dressed against Hamilton because I didn't hear his name called. 4 goals 7 assists in 7 games is good but he needs to get going again.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - He didn't play well in the Bears zone against Hamilton and needs to pick up that part of his game. He has 5 goals and 4 assists through 9 games.
D Bryan Helmer (20) - He is on here because as captain he needs to step up now and get this team focused after a bad loss. He does have 5 assists on the season which is solid.


Jakub Petruzalek (16) - Leading the Rats in goals with 3 and points with 5. He seems to be one of the few bright spots for this team right now.
D Mark Flood (6) - One of the top prospects in the Carolina organization this defense man has 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 games this season.
RW Nick Dodge (8) - Another of the top prospects he has 1 goal and 2 assists in the first 6 games of his rookie campaign.

This will be Keith Aucoin's return to Albany where he played and captained the River Rats for the past few seasons. It also starts Hershey's 2nd 3 in 3 this season. The last one wasn't bad as the Bears went 2-1. Hopefully they can get back on track tonight.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wow...That Was Ugly

It is tough to do the review when the game was so bad. Nothing seemed to go right for the Bears in Hamilton last night as they lost 6-0.

Here are the only 2 positives I can really bring out of this game and 1 of them is barely positive considering the outcome.
  • The Bears outshot the Dogs 37-30
  • The Bears only gave them 3 power plays
Unfortunately for the Bears they allowed 1 goal on those power plays and gave up TWO shorthanded goals last night.

I have to give credit though to Marc Denis. He played very well and earned the shutout with 37 saves. He never appeared to be out of position or in any real trouble in goal last night.

And in our own end the Bears were TERRIBLE all around. There is a lot of blame falling on Daren Machesney today and that isn't entirely fair. Was he good last night....not really. But the defense was NON-EXISTENT! Numerous times I saw players standing wide open in the slot just waiting for a pass.

It was definitely not a good game for the Bears and I honestly didn't think they would get beaten like this with the offense they have. I thought that they would manage to at least score a goal or two in every game. And I think that is a testament to the Bulldogs defense and Denis.

My Three Stars of the Game
  1. Marc Denis
  2. Max Pacioretty
  3. Matt D'Agostini
Grading the Performance:

  • Power Play - F - 7 opportunities and no goals. And really no great looks. I said it before and I will say it again...this team needs to quit trying to make the perfect pass and the pretty goal and just start going to the net. They pass it around the perimeter too much. They obviously shoot but they to go TO THE NET MORE. This grade would have been passing but they gave up 2 shorties and that is UNACCEPTABLE.
  • Penalty Kill - C - They were only out for 3 Hamilton power plays and they stopped 2 of them but they still seem to be skating around too much. On the goal Gordon (I believe) ended up getting way to low in the zone. He was standing next to the 2 defensemen instead of back in the middle where there was a WIDE OPEN man.
  • Even Strength - C - They got their chances they just couldn't score. Denis shut them down completely. And they gave up goals and couldn't seem to play any defense. But this team still outshot the opposition and seemed to play okay at times but Denis was the deciding factor.
  • Overall - F - I would say that this is good for the team. By getting destroyed they will hopefully realize that they can't just coast through games. They better be focused on defense today at practice cause they need to learn how to play in their own zone. Stop skating around chasing the puck and start covering the open guys.

Next up for the Bears....Friday night @ Albany. Check back for the preview tomorrow morning.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bears @ Hamilton Preview

Hershey Bears
record ~ 7-1-0-0 14 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 8-3 Win vs Rochester, 10/26
last 5 games ~ 4-1
road record ~ 4-0
goals for ~ 44
goals against ~ 25

Hamilton Bulldogs
record ~ 4-2-1-0 9 points
standings ~ 3rd in North Division
most recent game ~ 2-0 Loss vs Quad City 10/26
last 5 games ~ 2-2-1-0
home record ~ 2-1
goals for ~ 23
goals against ~ 19

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - He is leading the Bears and the AHL in goals with 8. He is second on the Bears with 12 points and also with 21 PIMs.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Lost amongst the MAG line's incredible start are some other guys having good years. Gordon is one of them. He has 5 goals and 4 assists through 8 games.
D Sami Lepisto (37) - He is obviously not an offensive force like the MAG line with 1 goal and 5 assists through 8 games but he is leading the team with a +10.


RW Matt D'Agostini (22) - D'Agostini is the leading scorer for Hamilton through 7 games this season. He has 4 goals and 6 assists and is a +2.
C Yanick Lehoux (85) - Lehoux is second on the team in scoring with 4 goals and 3 assists through 7 games. When healthy he is a dynamic player that is capable of 70 point seasons.
C Kyle Chipchura (17) - A familiar name from the Calder Cup finals a couple seasons ago. He has played in 5 of the games this season and only has 2 assists but is always dangerous.

Former Bear Marc Denis is the number one goaltender for the Bulldogs this season. So far he is having a very good season with a 4-1 record, 2.37 goals against average, and a .931 save percentage. He will more than likely get the nod Wednesday night against the Bears.


Monday, October 27, 2008

50 Shots!

G Tyler Plante was under fire last night in net for the Rochester Americans. He faced 50 shots in 3 periods. And he didn't do terrible either....he did make 42 saves. Most nights against most teams 42 saves would win the game and probably get you a shutout or at most 2/3 goals against.

Not this night and not against this team.

After a very sluggish first period the Bears came out firing scoring4 goals in the second and 3 more in the third to defeat the Amerks 8-3 in front of a sold out Giant Center.

The Bears looked tired and overly confident in the first period. Their only goal of the period was on a (in my opinion questionable) penalty shot call that Chris Bourque converted for his 4th goal of the season. Later in the period Bourque had a puck go off his skate and in the net but that was waved off immediately by referee Francis Charron. That was another questionable call as Bourque did not actually "kick" the puck in the net but I can see why it wasn't allowed.

Rochester played well and was in the game for a period and a half though. It was 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 halfway through the 2nd. But that was it for this team.

Karl Alzner scored his first goal as a pro early in the second and then the flood gates opened. The Bears got second period goals from Andrew Gordon (5) and two from Quintin Laing (2,3). And then in the third there were goals from Alexandre Giroux (8) and Oskar Osala (4,5).

Daren Machesney played okay in net for the Bears making13 saves on 16 shots. He seemed to find himself out of position numerous times. A couple of the goals were the result more of his defense not clearing the front of the net.

There were numerous scuffles during the game and a couple of fights. I was personally VERY impressed with Keith Aucoin sticking up for Minker in the third by absolutely going after Keaten Ellerby for cross checking Mink. And Kyle Wilson took a short beating before fighting back very well against Michael Duco, who also fought Greg Amadio in the first. Very impressed of the Bears standing up for their teammates....even guys who aren't fighters were in there mixing it up. That is an good sign of a team that is playing "together".

Overall......a good game from the Bears. Not a complete game but a good game. Next up is at Hamilton on Wednesday night.

My Three Stars of the Game
  1. Chris Bourque
  2. Quintin Laing
  3. Keith Aucoin

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - B - The first period and a half were very sluggish. It was almost like this team realized how bad Rochester has been and figured they would win just by showing up. But after that they obviously started to play and really played well. That is a good sign from a good team.
Power Play - B+ - On most of the power plays they played extremely well. They set up good and got some good shots. There is a little too much looking for the perfect pass and shot instead of shooting and getting rebounds. Plante was giving up big rebounds but the Bears were waiting to shoot on the PP. But they scored 2 goals and easily could have had more.
Penalty Kill - C+ - They only gave up 1 goal but this unit is lacking something. They are too aggressive during the penalty kill in my opinion. And they need to get the guys out of the front of the net. Players are being allowed to stand RIGHT IN FRONT of the goalie with no consequences. There were regularly Amerks standing right in the slot waiting for a pass with no one bothering them.
Overall - B - A GOOD game but no more than that. They came out expecting to win and then when they realized they actually had to play they turned it on. But against a good team it would be too late. And the penalty kill is a liability right now....they just aren't stopping other teams. The only other problem in my eyes....goaltending. It hasn't been strong. This team may have to outscore teams more than they would like to win it all.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Amerks @ Bears Game Preview

Hershey Bears
record - 6-1-0-0 12 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 3-2 Win vs Binghamton, 10/25
last 5 games - 4-1
home record - 2-1
goals for - 36
goals against - 22

Rochester Americans
record - 1-6-0-0 2 points
standings - last in North Division
most recent game - 6-1 Loss at Syracuse 10/25
last 5 games - 1-4
road record - 0-4
goals for - 13
goals against - 30

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11) - Playing better than anyone else on the Bears right now. He is apparently on a mission to win the scoring title.
G Daren Machesney (1) - The last time he played 2 games back to back he didn't look stellar. He is expected to do it again tonight. Keep an eye on how he plays.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - He tallied his 3rd of the season last night and seems to be getting more and more comfortable each game.


LW Karl Stewart (19) - Stewart is leading the team in points with 4 points in 7 games. He has scored 1 goal and has 3 assists.
RW Michal Repik (26) - One of the top players in the Florida Panthers system Repik is an AHL rookie and he has 3 points in the young season, a goal and 2 assists.
C Shawn Matthias (21) - Another one of the top Panthers prospect he is also an AHL rookie. He has a goal and an assist in 7 games.

The Amerks aren't very good this year so far anyway. Neither of their goaltenders has been particularly impressive as both have save percentages around 86%. They are also finishing up a 3 in 3 and were blown out in Syracuse last night 6-1. They should not be taking lightly but the Bears should win this game. These are the games Champions's their supposed to win.


news and notes:

Earlier this week the Bears reassigned D Josh Godfrey and RW Steve Pinnozzotto to South Carolina. Both players were having trouble cracking a very deep lineup and will get good playing time with the Rays.

Back to their Winning Ways

I will be honest at the start of this post....I only watched the first period of the game. After that I watched the PSU/OSU game entirely. The Bears game was on in the other room but I only saw a minute or two. So this review will basically be the first period and what I can see on the stat sheet.

It looked like Bingo didn't really show up until the 2nd period. They were dominated in the first being outshot 20-3. And they were down 2-0 after 1 period of play.

But after that they really controlled play and almost ended up with at least a point. After the 1st period the Sens outshot the Bears 28-15 and outscored them 2-1. But it wasn't enough.

The Bears got goals from Keith Aucoin (5) and Oskar Osala (3) in the 1st period and were up 2-0. Neither team was able to score in the 2nd period but Alexandre Giroux (7) added the eventual game winner about 6 minutes into the 3rd.

The Sens rallied with goals from Brendan Bell and Matt Carkner later in the 3rd to get within one. But Daren Machesney was strong in net for most of the night and wasn't allowing the third goal. Cheese ended up with 29 saves to record the win.

My Three Stars of the Game
  1. Daren Machesney
  2. Jeff Glass
  3. Alexandre Giroux

I am not going to grade the performance since I didn't see most of the game. The defense looked good in the 1st period but that was because the Bears controlled the puck for most of it. The Bears went 1 for 6 on the power play and Bingo went 1 for 5.

A win is a win and the Bears won. Next up Rochester tonight in Hershey at 5.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Binghamton @ Hershey Preview

Hershey Bears
record - 5-1-0-0 10 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 5-4 Loss vs Wilkes Barre, 10/19
last 5 games - 4-1
home record - 1-1
goals for - 33
goals against - 20

Binghamton Senators
record - 4-0-1-1 10 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 4-3 OT Loss at Syracuse 10/24
last 5 games - 3-0-1-1
road record - 4-1
goals for - 17
goals against - 13

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


The MAG Line - Obviously these guys are worth watching. They have scored 16 goals in 6 games. That is unbelievable.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - Chris has scored in 3 of the 4 games he has played in. He missed two when he was on recall to Washington.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - Even while centering the fourth line the rookie has 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games.


C Zack Smith (19) - Smith is leading the Sens with 5 goals in 6 games. He also has one assist which gives him 6 points this season.
RW Ryan Shannon (26) - Leading the Sens with a +5. He also has 3 goals and 3 assist in 6 games. 2 of his goals have come on the power play.
C Ilya Zubov (36) - He also has 3 goals and 3 assists in 6 games. Tied with Smith for second on the team as a +4.

Only 2 of Bingo's 6 games has ended in regulation. And they are 2-0 in those games. Bingo is considered a surprise in the Eastern division as they are currently tied with the Bears for first place.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Neuvirth to Czech Republic

Michal Neuvirth is returning to play for a team in the Czech Republic.

He CAN be recalled during the season if need be.

Washington apparently couldn't or wouldn't loan him to another AHL team here in North America.

I would imagine that they couldn't find any takers since they would have to know that if there are injuries to goaltenders within the organization he would be called back to Hershey. Not too many teams will want to put their teams at risk for that for a guy that is completely unproven.

But the Caps want him to play and if he isn't going to play in the NHL or AHL than they figured it would be best to send him home to Europe to play for this season.

With Brent Johnson in the last year of his contract I am sure Neuvirth will be in the States next year to play for the Bears.

Goalie News

Just a couple goalie notes here this Tuesday.
  • Michal Neuvirth has been recalled by Hershey but is not expected to play. He is still expected to be loaned out this week.
  • The Caps signed 2008 draft pick Braden Holtby to a 3 year entry level contract. He is currently playing for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL and will finish this and possibly next season there.

As soon as Neuvirth gets loaned I will have it on here.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Going Undefeated

Loss number 1 in this young season came last night at the hands of the hated Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins 5-4 in Hershey.

It was Hershey's first 3 games in 3 nights weekend of the season and they seemed to be feeling it a bit last night. After two very physical games against Philly and Syracuse the Bears came out a bit sluggish last night and found themselves down 2-0 1:30 into the game.

They came back from that with goals by Graham Mink (6), Chris Bourque (3), and Keith Aucoin (4) to take the lead 3-28 minutes into the second period. But the Pens got 2 more in the second to take a 4-3 lead and would add a 5th late in the third to take the lead for good. Alexandre Giroux (6) added one more for the Bears with 20 seconds to go.

Daren Machesney faced 25 shots and stopped 20 of them. He played in back to back games and it showed. He was regularly out of position and just didn't play very well all game.

The Penguins wanted this game more and they came out and played like it. Hershey was a little sluggish and it showed up on the score board this night.

My Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Chris Minard
  2. Keith Aucoin
  3. Adam Berkhoel

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - C - Sloppy. Tired. Over-matched. That is how the Bears looked last night. They just didn't have any fire or determination in that game. A few positives though. They only gave up 3 power plays and they scored 3 even strength goals. If this is the worse they play I think they will be okay.
Power Play - B - They got one goal on 6 opportunities which is okay but not good. They seemed to struggle with getting set up and didn't really have any phenomenal opportunities. But they have enough talent to overshadow bad play typically and they did some good things last night. But overall they need more goals when you get 6 power plays.
Penalty Kill - B - Okay performance. They only had to come out on 3 different opportunities but they did give up a goal. This unit has yet to really impress and it needs to get better soon.
Overall - C+ - Not a very good game and it ended up costing them the game. But for as bad as they played to get to within a goal was very impressive. And if they go 2 for 3 every weekend I think they will be okay in the long run. Was it a good Was it The Bears showed that even when they are beaten down they aren't beaten.

  • Tyler Sloan was called up to the Capitals after the game. He will be joining a road trip through a few Western Conference cities this week with the Caps. This call up has as much to do with rewarding a player as it does with salary cap issues. He is one of the cheapest options and the Caps are close to the cap. And he was impressive during camp this season.
  • The Bears also recalled G Bobby Goepfert from South Carolina. Simeon Varlamov is injured currently and Hershey needed a replacement.
  • By not calling up Neuvirth they pretty much confirmed that he WILL be loaned out soon. This way they can still recall him if there are injuries later this season or if he becomes a star and they want him back. If he dresses for the Bears he CANNOT come back THIS season.
No games til up Hershey.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bears vs Penguins Preview

Hershey Bears
record - 5-0-0-0 10 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 7-1 Win vs Syracuse, 10/18
last 5 games - 5-0
home record - 1-0
goals for - 29
goals against - 15

Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins
record - 1-1-0-1 3 points
standings - 4in East Division
most recent game - 4-3 SO Loss vs Bridgeport 10/17
last 5 games - 1-1-0-1
road record - 0-0
goals for - 11
goals against - 15

last time teams met - Bears won 8-4 in Wilkes Barre on 10/8

Players to watch:

The MAG line! They have a combined 13 goals and 16 assists in 5 GAMES!!
C Keith Aucoin - After last night's game he has 3 goals and 8 assists through 5 games. That is incredible.
RW Graham Mink - Tied for the team lead with 5 goals and has added another 4 assists to give him 9 points through 5 games.
LW Alexandre Giroux - Tied with Minker for team lead with 5 goals and also has 4 assists for 9 points also.

Wilkes Barre/Scranton:
The typical players here.
LW Chris Minard (14) - Minard is leading the Pens in points with 5 (3 g, 2 a) through 3 games. His is also a plus 4 this season.
C Jeff Taffe (22) - He wasn't with the Pens in the first game against Hershey but has scored a goal and had 2 assists in 2 games this season and is also a +4.
LW Janne Pesonen (25) - Newcomer to the Pens has tallied 1 goal and 4 assists through 3 games.


A Dominating Performance

Now that was a hockey game.

For the first time this season the Bears played a full 60 minutes of hockey and destroyed their opponent. Syracuse was never in this game as they finished with 1 goal on 29 shots against Daren Machesney.

Hershey came out firing from the start and finished with 7 goals on 41 shots against a rookie goaltender starting his first career AHL game in Sebastian Dahm. He never stood a chance in this one. Hershey finished 2 for 7 on the power play and controlled the play from the drop of the puck.

The teams were in a fighting mood last night as their were 3 different fights and 3 10 minute misconduct penalties during the game. Grant McNeill took on Syracuse tough guy Jon Mirasty and held his own mostly because of his size advantage. Grant held Mirasty at arm's length so he couldn't get any shots. Maybe a draw but Mirasty probably won....but not convincingly. Darren Reid then fought twice. In the first one against Adam Pineault he was beaten easily. In the second one against Nick Holden he actually picked up the W in my opinion.

I am looking forward to the next meeting in February and so is the Crunch announcer. I listened to his end of game call and he was pretty upset that the Bears weren't just laying down and letting the Crunch score. He said that when the Bears come up to Syracuse that someone is going to get laid out and that there will only be chocolate syrup left. He was complaining because the Bears were still finishing their checks and, god forbid, playing hockey at the end of the third.

But this game was very well played by the Bears. 6 different Bears scored, Andrew Gordon (4), Graham Mink (5), Alexandre Giroux (4,5), Keith Aucoin (3), Francois Bouchard (2), and Sami Lepisto (1), while 10 different Bears had points. Specifically the MAG line dominated with 9 combined points among the 3 players as each had 3 points this game.

A complete game from the Bears showed what they are capable of.

My Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Daren Machesney
  2. Keith Aucoin
  3. Alexandre Giroux

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - B+ - The only problem with their performance tonight was how many shots they allowed. You can't allow 29 shots each game and expect to win so easily. Cheese came up HUGE in net for this team numerous times with many excellent saves. The team stood up for themselves against the Crunch and it showed throughout the game. They controlled the play and didn't really allow the Crunch to have any sustained attack.

Power Play - A - They only finished 2 for 7 but they scored a goal right after a power play in the second period. They had multiple chances on each and every power play to score. The Bears had the puck in the offensive zone for almost all of their power play time it seemed. Andrew Gordon played very well in Bourque's role on the point.

Penalty Kill - B+ - They allowed a goal which is really the only bad spot from this group. They killed off 8 of the 9 power plays that Syracuse accumulated during the game. This was by far their best performance of the season. Once in a while they would allow a good shot on goal but not very often.

Overall - A - The best game to date this season....EASILY. Hershey dominated and can do this more often if they show up to play each night. With over 8000 fans in attendance they seemed to feed off the crowd and played great hockey. I am looking forward to seeing where the MAG line goes this year as they dominated again with 4 goals and 5 assists. Awesome performance from the Bears.

Chris Bourque was sent back down to Hershey late last night and could play tonight against the Pens.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bears vs Crunch Preview

Hershey Bears
record - 4-0-0-0 8 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 5-4 W @ Philadelphia, 10/17
last 5 games - 4-0
home record - 0-0

Syracuse Crunch
record - 3-0-0-0 6 points
standings - 1st in North Division
most recent game - 3-2 SO W @ Binghamton 10/17
last 5 games - 3-0
road record - 2-0

last time teams met - first meeting this season

Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin - AHL's player of the week for first week of the season has 2 goals and 6 assists through 4 games.
C Mathieu Perrault - Rookie has 2 goals and 3 assists in first 4 games of season and is playing a very good game right now.
C Jay Beagle - He only has 1 assist on the season but he is all over the ice. A key penalty killer and a great presence on the forecheck.

LW Tom Sestito (#7) - He has 1 goal and 3 assists in 3 games. He also brings with him 22 penalty minutes in 3 games with 20 penalty minutes in one game for 2 misconduct including a game misconduct for fighting OFF THE ICE SURFACE.
LW Mike York (78) - The veteran also has 1 goal and 3 assists in 3 games.
RW Maksim Mayorov (16) - A rookie who is in the top 20 prospects for Columbus according to Hockey's Future who has a goal and 2 assists in this young season.

Syracuse is coming off a game where Binghamton outshot them 38-23 but the Crunch got the win in a shootout. They are walking into a hyped up building with the home opener but the Bears better stay focused and come out strong cause this team with jump on you.

The Bears and Crunch haven't played since 2006-2007 season where they played twice and each team won their home game. They will meet another time in Syracuse later this season.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Dean Arsene recorded a fight, an assist, and a goal in that order to complete his Gordie Howe hat trick.

Deano also took a very very bad penalty in the second period that almost cost the team badly. With the Bears already down 2 men for another 1:12, Deano took a slashing penalty that put the team down 2 men for almost a full 2 minutes.....not smart from a veteran dman.

I honestly didn't think the fight was well timed either. But I don't really know what was said or done but right as the fight started Oskar Osala had scored but the goal was waived off due to the fight. In the offensive zone and still in the first I thought it was odd. But like I said I don't know what exactly happened to cause the fight.

But Deano redeemed himself and ended up the games #1 star.

Simeon Varlamov played in his second game and got his second win. He made 21 saves on 25 shots and looked pretty good most of the game. He sometimes seems to let in some easy goals but he makes the toughest ones usually.

The MAG line was pretty much non-existent in the game. It seemed like the Phantoms really tried to shut them down and they pretty much succeeded. Giroux did have a goal and Aucoin an assist and they didn't play bad.....they just didn't dominate like they did in the first 3 games.

The Bears ended up out shooting the Phantoms 43 to 25 and if it wasn't for Jean-Sebastien Aubin the Phantoms wouldn't have been within 5 goals tonight. He played very well but couldn't stop quite enough.

My 3 Stars of the Game:
  1. Dean Arsene
  2. Jonathon Matsumoto
  3. Jean-Sebastien Aubin

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - B+ - All of the goals were even strength and they had plenty of shots. All of the lines played solid and it would have been a bigger win if Aubin didn't play so well. The defense was especially good at even strength. Sean Collins looked very good in his first game of the season.

Power Play - C+ - No goals on 7 opportunities isn't what we want to see. If you have 7 chances you outta score at least 1 or 2. But they did control the puck in the zone and got some shots on Aubin and didn't give up any not all that bad.

Penalty Kill - B - They gave up 2 goals on 9 opportunities and one of the goals was at the end of a 5 on 3 late in the second period. Considering the Bears gave them 5 power plays in the first period alone I think this unit did pretty well. They need to quit taking dumb penalties....there were quite a few.

Overall - B - An okay game that they managed to win. These games are going to happen many more times and the team needs to continue to do this to get wins. Plenty of shots but also plenty of penalties. Once again the rookie line played very well and might have played better than all the other lines. A solid game and a W, which is all that matters.

Other News:

  • The Washington Capitals were expected to call up someone after the game but instead elected to call up Chris Bourque prior to the game. Bourque will be up with the team for at least a few games but it will be interesting to see how he does.
  • The Caps/Bears sent goalie Michal Neuvirth to South Carolina of the ECHL. This is a bit of a surprise since they thought a couple days ago that they were close to loaning him out. They still may loan him out, I am not sure how loan rules apply to ECHL games, but they want to get him playing which he either can't do in Hershey or they want to keep Varlamov playing.

Bears @ Phantoms Preview

Hershey Bears
record - 3-0-0-0 6 points
standings - 1st in East Division
most recent game - 4-3 SO Win @ Norfolk, 10/11
last 5 games - 3-0
road record - 3-0

Philadelphia Phantoms
record - 1-1-0-0 2 points
standings - 5th in East Division
most recent game - 4-3 Loss @ Wilkes-Barre 10/11
last 5 games - 1-1
home record - 1-0

last time teams met - first meeting this season

Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin - AHL's player of the week for first week of the season has 2 goals and 5 assists through 3 games.
RW Graham Mink - Is only 1 point behind Aucoin with 4 goals and 2 assists in 3 games.
LW Chris Bourque - Arguably the most talented player on Hershey roster has 2 goals and 3 assists in 3 games this season.

RW Claude Giroux - Philadelphia's #2 overall prospect according to Hockey's Future has 1 goal in 2 games this season.
C Darroll Powell - Leading scorer this season for Phantoms with 1 goal and 1 assist in 2 games.
C Jonathan Matsumato - Scored 20 goals last season in 77 games for the Phantoms. Has 1 goal in 2 games so far this season.

This is the first of 7 meetings between the Bears and Phantoms before Christmas and the first of 12 for the entire season.

Last year the Bears won the season series 7-4-0-1. In Philadelphia the Bears went 4-1-0-1 last season. Not much of a home ice advantage for the Phantoms.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Check this out

I am premiering a new feature previews. Every gameday I will have a game preview up in the morning with facts/figures/news/players to watch about the teams going that night. Let me know if you want anything added to the information. I figured many of you going to the games or listening to the games might not be aware of how the Bears opponent is doing so check this out before you go or before you listen and get the information here. Check back after 8am tomorrow for the Bears/Phantoms preview.

Cheap plug here:

If you are a sports fan than maybe you would want to check out my other site Jumping Offsides. It is a site all about sports with a weekly podcast with my co-host Verb. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mid Week Notes

A couple things to mention here this Wednesday since there are no games:

  • It appears the Capitals/Bears are close to an agreement to loan out one of the 3 goaltenders currently in Hershey. All signs point to Michal Neuvirth being the one loaned because he is yet to dress for the Bears. By not dressing him the Caps/Bears leave open the possibility of him returning later this season.
  • Keith Aucoin was named AHL player of the week for the week ending October 12. Aucoin finished the week with 2 goals and 5 assists in 3 games. An exceptional start to the season.
  • Maxime Lacroix and Michael Dubuc were reassigned to South Carolina earlier this week. Dubuc played in the season opener for the Bears and Lacroix had yet to play. This will allow both players to play on a regular basis and get some much needed experience.
  • The Capitals will be without RW Viktor Kozlov for the next 2 weeks due to injury. There is no word of any call-ups from Hershey but the possibility is there.

That's it for now. If something happens with a goaltender I will report on it as soon as I hear it.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Video Feed Review

I have subscribed to AHL Live for the entire Hershey Bears season. This way I can see all the road games and any home games that I can't get to.

I said previously that I would give my thoughts on it so here you go.

The video quality is okay. Nothing special but not too bad either. It is definitely good enough to watch the games with no problem. I hooked my computer to my tv for Friday's game in Norfolk and that was still good enough quality.

The first game there was some significant skipping and freezing during the third period that was quite annoying.

The second game was a bit of an issue just signing in. I actually didn't get the feed until about 10 minutes into the game due to problems with the site. I have emailed them about this issue but haven't heard anything back just yet.

The third game was the best of the games so far as there was no issue logging in and only a couple minor skipping problems throughout the game.

All in all I would say that it is definitely worth the money if you can afford it. There are some problems but hopefully that is because of a new season and they will go away.

I watched a game on B2 last year or the year before and it was terrible in my opinion. I actually didn't even finish watching it. But AHL Live / Neulion is much better than that.


I just got a response from the people at AHL Live and I have changed my opinion. One of the nice features about the service was having access to archived games that have already been played. But I just found out that in order to view those I have to purchase each one for $4. That is ON TOP of my season pass.

If I was considering purchasing this I would think very hard about it. If you can't see the games live when they are on than you are out of luck even though they archive them.

It is still worth it if you can't get to many games but if you are going to be at most of the home games I would say DO NOT PURCHASE!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Shootout Win

Shootout wins weren't very frequent the last two seasons for Hershey. Sometimes the goalies just seemed over matched in the shootout.

Not Simeon. Simeon Varlamov held his own in net all night making 22 saves on 25 shots in regulation and overtime. And in the shootout he was solid if not fantastic stopping 3 of the 4 shots he faced. A couple of the goals in regulation were a little soft but they didn't seem to bother him. If he let one in he didn't seem to let it bother him for long.

Alexandre Giroux, Francois Bouchard, and Keith Aucoin scored in the shootout to get the Bears the extra point in the game. Bouchard's goal was special. He did a partial spin-a-rama to a backhand shot right in front of Karri Ramo. He actually pulled the same exact move earlier this summer at the Washington Capitals developmental camp. If he can develop another shot off the same move so goalies can't telegraph where he is going he will be almost unstoppable in the shootouts.

A video of the developmental goal (quality is lacking but you can see the move he pulled last night).

click here if the video doesn't load for you.

Back to the game.

Aucoin (2), Bouchard (1), and Mathieu Perrault (2) all scored for Hershey who played an average game compared to the first two of the season. None of the goals were really anything special. Just a matter of converting on a couple chances.

There was 1 fight in the game, which was to be expected with Greg Amadio and Grant McNeill playing, but it didn't go Hershey's way. Amadio went up against Jay Rosehill of the Admirals and pretty much got beaten up. I am not sure Amadio landed one punch as Rosehill just kept landing body blows. Not a bad fight for Amadio but not the way he wanted his first fight as a Bear to go.

Dean Arsene was in the booth with John Walton last night and apparently does not think too much about Norfolk fans or # 10 Radek Smolenak. Anytime Smolenak got the puck Deano made a comment about not liking him. So that should be interesting the next time these teams go at it.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Sloan
  2. Zonopka
  3. Varlamov

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - B - There weren't any really good chances throughout the game. Norfolk seemed to want this game more and the Bears didn't skate as hard or play as complete a game tonight. Some sustained pressure but nothing came of most of it.

Power Play - B - Solid play from the PP but only 1 goal from it. And there weren't many more opportunities to get anything else. Not as potent last night.

Penalty Kill - C+ - Still needs work. If you are going to be super aggressive, which they have been, than you need to have 2 defensemen that are aware and able to defend multiple guys. The forwards on the PK press the point men consistently but the defense seems out of position too often.

Overall - B - A game that the Admirals wanted more but Hershey managed to win the game. That is important and a good lesson for the rest of the season. The top 3 lines did little offensively last night but luckily the 4th line of Oskar Osala/Perrault/Bouchard stepped up and really won the game for Hershey.

Next up is a trip to Philly on Friday night. Let's hope Coach Woods works on his PK units this week in practice....they need it. It appears to be the weakest part of this team and if they can fix the problems on the PK they will be even harder to beat!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Getting Set for Norfolk Game 2

Simeon Varlamov WILL start in goal tonight for Hershey at Scope Arena against the Norfolk Admirals. This will be his first regular season start in North America.

Dean Arsene and Josh Godfrey are not playing tonight. In their places will be Greg Amadio and Grant McNeill. Amadio will pair with Lepisto and McNeill with Alzner.

Other than that there are no changes to the lineup. The same guys that played last night will play again tonight.

Check back tomorrow morning for my game recap and a review of the AHL Live/Neulion video services.


The Bears continued their winning ways to open the season by beating Norfolk 5-3 in Virginia last night.

Alexandre Giroux scored the game winner, his second of the year, with 1 minute to go in the second period to give the Bears a 4-2 lead after they had been trailing 2-1 midway through the period. Chris Bourque (2nd) added an open netter late in the third to seal the win.

Graham Mink (4th), Andrew Gordon (2nd), and Oskar Osala (1st) also scored for Hershey who are staying in Norfolk for another game tonight.

The lineup did not change too much for this game even though 9 players were scratched for the opener Wednesday night. Francois Bouchard and Andrew Joudrey made their season debuts on the fourth and third lines respectively. The defense was unchanged from Wednesday.

Simeon Varlamov will make his debut in goal for the Bears tonight at 7 against these same Norfolk Admirals.

My Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Giroux
  2. Bochenski
  3. Perrault

Grading the Performance:

Even Strength - B+ - 4 of the 5 goals came at even strength last night which is good because there are going to be games where the power play can't do anything. Karri Ramo made the Admirals look even better on many of his 33 saves.

Power Play - B - There were chances on the PP but only one goal. You have to put away some of those goals against teams as good as Norfolk or it could bite you later in the game.

Penalty Kill - C - Luckily Machesney played very well when the Bears were on the PK because the defense didn't seem to be there often enough. Some of the guys seem to want to score short handed more than they want to keep the puck out of their own net.

Offense - B - Need to convert on more of the chances. Perrault had a good game with 2 assists and some other real nice passes that would have been goals against other goalies. Bourque seemed a bit off his game as he fumbled the puck a few times, includinging in front of his own net, and never seemed to get anything going. The MAG line (Mink/Aucoin/Giroux for those who didn't know) played very well again. This line is going to do some damage this season if (knock on wood) they stay healthy.

Defense - C - Some problems here. Deano, you need to worry about playing defense and not hitting anything that moves. Numerous times you went for the big hit and ended up out of position. Godfrey, good job stepping in for Bouchard and fighting for your teammate. There needs to be more focus and more communication out there on defense.

Goaltending - C+ - Cheese got the win and made 19 saves on 22 shots but he was all over the place in net. It was like he didn't like the blue paint under his feet. He wanted to be a defenseman more than a goalie. Cheese....STAY IN THE NET!!

Overall - B - Winning's winning. And this team seems to know how to win. It was nice to seem them have to come back from some minor adversity after trailing for part of the second period. Cause they definitely game back, scoring 3 goals in 6 minutes to take the lead and then by not giving up much else. A solid game but definitely room for improvement.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Minker is BACK big time!

Graham Mink is baaaaackkk!!!

Minker started off what looks like it should be a good season with a hat trick and 2 assists in a 8-4 win over the Baby Pens in Wilkes Barre.

Keith Aucoin helped out with a goal and 4 assists to total 5 points in his first game as a Bear. Alexandre Giroux added a goal and 2 assists to give the line 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in their first game together in the regular season.

Special teams ruled the night for both teams as the Bears scored 5 of their 8 goals on the power play and 3 of Wilkes Barre's 4 goals came with a man advantage. The Bears finished 5 of 7 on the power play as the Baby Pens went 3 of 10.

The other goals for the Bears came from Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perrault, and Andrew Gordon.

All four lines played a lot tonight. In fact I would say that the fourth line had just as much ice time as the first line at even strength. Michael Dubuc played very well for his first pro game and Oskar Osala played exceptionally as well.

Josh Godfrey's shot is a serious weapon. His shot in the first period knocked Engelland's stick out of his hands and the puck got passed out front to a wide open Perrault for the Bears third goal. Godfrey got credit for an assist on the play and should get plenty more this season.

Daren Machesney played well in goal. The first goal was a deflection that went off someone in front and then off the post before ending on Ryan Stone's blade for him to put away. And the fourth goal came with the Bears down 2 men in the final second of the game. All in all he made 21 saves on 25 shots.

My 3 stars of the game:
  1. Graham Mink
  2. Keith Aucoin
  3. Chris Bourque

Grading the performance:

Even Strength - B+ - Not great but surely not bad. The Bears got 3 even strength goals on the night. The defense needs to calm down and relax in their own zone. They appeared to be rushing a little bit with the puck behind the net.

Power Play - A - Obviously this team can put away power play goals. Now they need to do it for the rest of the season. The combination of Giroux/Aucoin/Mink has the potential to set records.

Penalty Kill - B - Definitely room for improvement but I thought a solid showing considering this isn't a bad Wilkes Barre team. The first goal was a bunch of lucky bounces and the third was on a 5 on 3 advantage. Very aggressive up front on the PK, maybe a little too aggressive at times as there were open shots from the point.

Overall - B+ - Everyone played good tonight. Cheese held his own in net and the guys made plays out in front of him. The defense needs to keep skating and stop rushing. The entire team needs to play a full 60 minutes. It looked a bit like last season in the 2nd period as the Bears seemed to be standing around.

With as deep as this team is the third period should be dominated by the Bears all year. There is no reason why our top two lines should not be fresh in the final minutes of the game. No other team can compete with the depth of this team.

Opening night lineup

The Bears are up in Wilkes Barre about ready to start the season with a W!!

Here is the Bears lineup, line combos, defensive pairings, and scratches:

Giroux - Aucoin - Mink
Bourque - Wilson - Gordon
Laing - Beagle - Pinnizzotto
Osala - Perrault - Dubuc

Alzner - Lepisto
Sloan - Helmer
Arsene - Godfrey

Machesney in goal
Varlamov as backup


Grant McNeill
Patrick McNeill
Sean Collins
Darren Reid
Francois Bouchard
Andrew Joudrey
Maxime Lacroix
Greg Amadio
Michal Neuvirth (didn't make the trip)

I am going to watch the game online at I hope it goes well and I will give my opinion of the video quality later. Listen at Sports Juice if you aren't going up - the link is in the right sidebar.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Laing and Sloan join Bears

Thank you to the commenter's who have kept the news updated:

  • Laing and Sloan cleared waivers today and both will be in Hershey this season.
  • Michael Dubuc signed a 2 year "one way" contract with the Bears yesterday.

Other News:

  • Walton also announced that he will be conducting a Podcast, The Old Barn Show, weekly on Mondays about the Bears. And some weeks the show will be done live from the Fire Alley restaurant in Hershey. Click here to read more.
  • Beagle has really impressed the Caps with his rapid development over the past few years and last year in Hershey. Read the story here.
  • John Walton gave a brief season preview with official roster and jersey numbers. Click here to read it and see the roster.

The season starts tomorrow! Listen to it on SportsJuice if you aren't going!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bourque, Laing, & Alzner to Hershey

As expected Chris Bourque, Quintin Laing, and Karl Alzner were all assigned to Hershey this afternoon.

Laing will have to clear waivers but Bourque and Alzner will report immediately.

It is unfortunate for Bourque because he has played exceptionally well this preseason but got sent down basically because of waiver issues. He was surely a better player than some of their other guys like Eric Fehr. But since Eric has to clear waivers (which he wouldn't do) Chris got sent down. He can clear and will surely be the first player called up if a winger gets injured. One more year in Hershey isn't going to end his NHL dream. I would think the Capitals will resign him and get him on their team next season full time.

Quintin Laing didn't play at all in the post season or down the stretch last season for the Capitals so this isn't really a surprise either. There is a chance he could get picked up on waivers and honestly I wouldn't be surprised either way. On one side of it he is an older winger that doesn't bring much offensive punch but on the other side of it he is a great leader and a GREAT defensive forward. Whatever happens I hope he eventually makes it in the NHL.

And Karl Alzner is going to get to develop in Hershey much like Mike Green and Jeff Schultz did. He is going to get to learn from guys like Bryan Helmer and Dean Arsene so he should be fine. I would imagine him and Lepisto will split time as the main defensive call up option.

These moves mean the Bears will be making a few cuts soon. I would expect the cuts to come prior to Wednesday's season opener. Michael Dubuc is probably going to get sent down and I suspect Patrick McNeill will too. And if Laing clears waivers than I suspect another player will get moved so that there aren't too many guys sitting each night.

To read Bruce Boudreau's comments on the players cut today click here. When asked why the Caps didn't wait until the deadline on Wednesday afternoon to make the cuts Bruce said that since they knew now why would they wait until Wednesday and put the players through not knowing. And he also added that Hershey plays Wednesday and he wanted the Bears to be able to set their roster.

Bring on the Season!

The Bears have finished their preseason games and will start the regular season Wednesday night in Wilkes-Barre.

There are still some cuts to be made by both the Caps and the Bears.

The Capitals are rumored to be leaning towards keeping less than the maximum 23 players. They would probably keep 22 players to start the year, 14 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies.

The goalies are obviously set, Karl Alzner will probably be sent down to Hershey which would leave 6 on D, and Chris Bourque and Quintin Laing are the likely candidates to be sent from the forwards.

The reason for keeping less than the 23 is for salary cap reasons and for roster flexibility.

The only question amongst those cuts would be Laing who would have to clear waivers and it is unknown if he would or not.

The Bears currently have 25 players on the roster including 3 goalies, 9 defensemen, and 13 forwards.

This is a pretty fantastic roster for the opening of the 08-09 season. (assuming Bourque, Laing, and Alzner get reassigned)

In goal would be Daren Machesney, Michal Neuvirth, and Simeon Varlamov. There is no telling what happens here as keeping 3 goaltenders seems silly but two of them have been hurt already this preseason. Will the Bears stick with 3 or will one get loaned or assigned to South Carolina?

On defense it is a veteran group with Dean Arsene, Greg Amadio, Bryan Helmer, Sami Lepisto, and Tyler Sloan joining the younger players Grant McNeill, Patrick McNeill, Josh Godfrey, Karl Alzner and Sean Collins. I would expect either Collins or P. McNeill to be reassigned to South Carolina if Alzner does in fact get sent down by the Caps.

At forward there are many scoring options and numerous playmakers. Listed at center we have Keith Aucoin, Jay Beagle, Andrew Joudrey, Mathieu Perreault, and Kyle Wilson. And on the wings there is Alexandre Giroux, Andrew Gordon, Graham Mink, Oskar Osala, Steve Pinizzotto, Darren Reid, Michael Dubuc, Chris Bourque, Francois Bouchard, and Quintin Laing. Dubuc may also find himself in South Carolina or someplace else to start the year depending on other roster moves.

You are looking at a serious title contender for the AHL this season.

A little glimpse at possible line combinations:

Mink - Aucoin - Giroux
Bourque - Beagle - Gordon
Perrault - Wilson - Bouchard
Osala - Joudrey - Pinizzotto

Reid, Dubuc, and Laing are not even listed. And they could all start for sure!

Arsene - Godfrey
Helmer - Amadio
Sloan - Lepisto
Alzner - Collins

That doesn't include either McNeill and there is an extra pairing shown!

This team is DEEP and TALENTED!! Easily the deepest team in years and possibly the most talented. Even with some injuries this team should remain one of the best in the league. Hell the second forwards line I have up there could be playing for the Caps NEXT SEASON!

I am ready for the season and getting more and more excited each day!


check back later as more roster moves from Washington are expected

Friday, October 3, 2008

Federov on D?

It appears Boudreau may be considering using Federov as his 7th defensemen for the Capitals to start the season.

Click here for article.

This is an interesting idea from Bruce. With 6 full time defensemen he could dress them for each game and use Federov as an emergency d-man if there is an injury and he can't get someone called up in time for a game.

That could potentially mean that Karl Alzner would start the season in Hershey. Which would really crowd up Hershey's roster even more.

It is a good idea in my opinion. Alzner hasn't played defense in the pros other than a couple preseason games and could use some time in Hershey. The Caps would be fine because they still have 6 d-men to use nightly. And Federov would be able to step in and play a game here or there to give someone a rest. Or the Caps could just call up Alzner, Lepisto, or Sloan.

They want Alzner to play every night. The question is, do you want him to play every night in the NHL against the best players in the world right away or do you want to give him a couple weeks or months in the A against a little easier competition to get his feet wet?

Thats what Bruce is trying to figure out.

And either the way the Bears are going to be a deep team this year. Deep enough that with the guys that are going to be sent to South Carolina should be able to win that league as well. The Stingrays are going to be very good this year as well.

Other news:

Neuvirth was hit in the head with a puck during yesterday's practice and is apparently questionable for tonight's preseason game. The Bears recalled Bobby Goepfert from South Carolina yesterday.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

4 More Players in Hershey

It looks like Karl Alzner has beaten out Sami Lepisto.

The two were competing for the final defensemen spot on the Washington Capitals opening night roster.

And it looks like it will be Alzner.

Tyler Sloan, Sami Lepisto, Grant McNeill, and Simeon Varlamov were all sent to Hershey this afternoon.

That leaves the Capitals with 25 players still in camp. They need to be at 23 for the start of the season.

Chris Bourque and Quintin Laing are still in camp but as of right now they are the two players expected to be sent to Hershey.

Bourque has outperformed players like Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon but does NOT have to clear waivers so it doesn't hurt the organization to give him one more year in the AHL.

He will likely be the first player called up for most of the season. And if there is an injury to a forward with the Capitals that keeps that player out for an extended period, I suspect Bourque would be in Washington for an extended stay.