Sunday, November 30, 2008

That's 9!

Now that was a hockey game!

A tough hard fought game that proves the Bears can win no matter how you want to play. Hershey beat Norfolk 3-2 on a late 3rd period goal from Andrew Joudrey that gave Hershey its 9th win in a row.

Hershey was outplayed for the first 45 minutes of the game tonight and was outshot in the first 2 periods 26-20 before finally solving goalie Mike McKenna in the third period.

Oskar Osala (16) got the scoring going in the first period with a goal 3 minutes into the game. Norfolk quickly answered with a goal of their own a minute later.

And then for almost 2.5 periods the Bears hung their hopes on their rookie goaltender, Simeon Varlamov. Varlie rose to the challenge and kept the Bears in the game with save after save as his defense let him down multiple times.

Varlie ended the game with 32 saves on 34 shots and neither goal was his fault. The first goal was (in my opinion) on Josh Godfrey who got caught out of position and Grant Potulny deflected a pass from right in front of the net up over Varlie. The second goal was stopped before Mathieu Curadeau basically ran over Varlie and the puck trickled over the line.

In the end though Varlie did everything he could and the Bears offense did just enough.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Andrew Joudrey - game winning goal on a very nice deflection with 2 minutes to go
  2. Simeon Varlamov - without him in net the Bears aren't in this game at all
  3. Mike McKenna - played exception in his own net stopping 30 of 33

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - Many of those shots were not truly scoring chances as they came from all over the rink. The O had trouble getting set up in the zone the entire game and couldn't sustain offense most of the night. Norfolk played very well in their own end to pressure the Hershey forwards.
  • Defense - C+ - Too many mistakes almost led to multiple goals. Patty McNeill had multiple lapses in judgement that led to some scoring chances for the Admirals. No one on the defensive end played exceptional and without Varlie the Bears would have been in trouble.
  • Goaltending - A - In my opinion this was Varlie's best game. Tough save after tough save including multiple odd man rushes that he continuously came up big on.
  • Power Play - B+ - Very good pressure and kept the puck in the zone most of the opportunities. Ended up going 1 for 4.
  • Penalty Kill - A - Killed off all 4 opportunities including an extended 5 on 3 and didn't allow much to get through when they were shorthanded.
  • Overall - B+ - The defense had their troubles but Varlie bailed them out most of the time. The offense did what they needed to do but didn't dominate. A tough well fought game that the Bears earned the W.


Norfolk @ Bears Preview, 11/30

Hershey Bears
record ~ 17-5-0-1 35 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 9-0 Win vs Philadelphia, 11/29
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
home record ~ 8-2-0-0
goals for ~ 104
goals against ~62
power play ~ 19.6% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 80.5% (23rd)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 7-11-1-3 18 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 OT Win vs Wilkes-Barre, 11/29
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 3-7-0-2
goals for ~ 71
goals against ~ 88
power play ~ 21.2% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 79.1% (25th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 4-3 in a shootout in Norfolk on October 11.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- He had 3 assists last night to extend his league leading point total to 35 and his league leading assist total to 26.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - He came into the month of November with 0 goals. He now has 9 of them. 9 goals and 2 assists this month.
LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - He extended his point streak to 7 games with 2 goals and an assist last night. Giving him 7 goals and 8 assists in the last 7 games.


C Paul Szczechura (12) - Leading goal scorer and point getter for Norfolk this season with 11 g and 13 a on the season. Has a point in 10 of 13 games this month. And a team leading +8.
RW Brandon Bochenski (27) - 2nd on the team with 9 goals and 4th in points. In the last 3 games he has 4 goals and 2 assists. 5 goals and 4 assists in the last 6.
C Zenon Konopka (28) - 7 goals and 9 assists on the season includes 1 goal and 6 assists in the last 3 games.

News and Notes:
  • Don't let the record fool you, Norfolk can score with anyone. Goaltending has been the problem this season. Karri Ramo is 36th in the league in save percentage and 43rd in goals against. And the backup Mike McKenna is even worse.
  • Norfolk started the season 1-7-1-1 and has since gone 6-4-0-2.
  • Karl Alzner was injured last night for the Capitals. No telling on how serious the injury is as of yet.
  • Washington doesn't play until Tuesday and the Bears don't play again after tonight until Saturday so there shouldn't be any more call ups.

That's 9 for 8!

The Bears scored 9 last night to get them to 8 wins in a row!! And the Phantoms...well they had 13 shots in the game but none of them got by Cheese.

The Bears were up 4-0 before the Phantoms even registered a shot!

If that's not domination than I don't know what is.

I will list the scorers here:

Graham Mink (11)
Alexandre Giroux (15)
Alexandre Giroux (16)
Greg Amadio (1)
Darren Reid (1)
Greg Amadio (2)
Andrew Joudrey (1)
Quintin Laing (5)
Kyle Wilson (9)

3 players scored their first goals of the season and Amadio scored Hershey's first short handed goal of the season with his second goal.

Unfortunately Mathieu Perrault was not able to get on the score sheet and therefore his 7 game assist streak came to an end.

Referee Ryan Fraser only called 6 penalties on Hershey, 1 of which was for fighting. In turn he called 13 penalties on Philly. 2 of those were for fighting and 2 were 1o minute misconduct penalties.

In the 3rd period the Bears actually had a 7 minute power play after Garrett Klotz sucker punched Darren Reid and drew a 5 minute fighting, 2 minute instigator, and 10 minute misconduct penalty. But Reid didn't get to react, and actually left a little shaken up, so Hershey got a 2 minute minor power play and then a power play for the full 5 minute major. They would score 2 goals in that period with the extra man.

All in all a game in which Philly really didn't take part in. I am still not convinced that they even got off the bus.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Greg Amadio - the defensive leader for this team right now scored twice
  2. Keith Aucoin - he had 3 primary assists for a pretty good night
  3. Andrew Joudrey - got his first of the season and assisted on 2 others

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - A - There is no way you could lower this grade after 9 goals. And believe it or not they probably should have had about 15 as they did miss some opportunities. The rookie line didn't register a point but that just shows how deep this team truly is.
  • Defense - A - I can't lower the grade for them either. No goals and only 13 shots allowed. Although I think the shot thing had a lot to do with Philly's ineptitude as well. But only giving up 13 shots and no goals is a great performance. And don't forget that 3 of the defensemen were in the ECHL last week!
  • Goaltending - A - I would give him a lower grade because he only faced 13 shots but sometimes the fewer shots you face the tougher it is because you can't get in a rhythm. And he definitely couldn't get into a rhythm.
  • Power Play - B+ - 3 for 10 on the man advantage is good but they should have had more. But it really didn't matter and they weren't really trying really hard towards the end because of the amount they were up.
  • Penalty Kill - A - Not many chances as Philly only had 4 power plays and I think most of them were shortened ones at that.
  • Overall - A - 9 goals and 13 shots against is about as dominant as you can be in a hockey game. Not much else to say about it.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Phantoms @ Bears Preview, 11/29

Hershey Bears
record ~ 16-5-0-1 33 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 OT Win @ Albany, 11/28
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
home record ~ 7-2-0-0
goals for ~ 95
goals against ~62
power play ~ 18.8% (9th)
penalty kill ~ 79.8% (23rd)

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 12-10-0-0 24 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Springfield, 11/28
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 8-6-0-0
goals for ~ 67
goals against ~ 61
power play ~ 20.2% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 88.1% (4th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 5-2 in Philly on November 21.

Players to watch:


C Mathieu Perrault (24)- He has an assist in 7 straight games and 1 goal in that period. Most of his assists are primary assists and he (NOT Osala) makes the rookie line go.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - 5 goals and 1 assist are his numbers over the past 6 games. Scored 2 the last time against Philly and scored 1 last night.
LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - He is helping this team out HUGE right now. After an 8 game stretch where he only scored 1 goal he has scored 5 and assisted on 7 others in the last 6 games.


C Jared Ross (18) - Has only played in 11 games for the Phantoms but has points in 10 of those games. The only game without a point...against Hershey. 6 goals and 8 assists on the season.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - Has tallied a point in all 6 games against Hershey this season (2 g, 5 a) and is second on the team in points for the season with 9 goals and 10 assists.
D Danny Syvret (25) - Former Bear is leading the team in points with 5 goals and 17 assists this season. Has registered a point in 5 of 6 against Hershey this year.

news and notes:
  • Graham Mink was technically reassigned by Washington but remains with the team just in case of injury. But there were no new injuries for the Caps so Minker could be in Hershey tonight.
  • The Bears and Phantoms play 12 times this season....this is the 7th meeting already!
  • They do not meet again until January 17.

That's 7

Hershey looked like they were going to be beaten in Albany last night before Kyle Wilson tied the game and Francois Bouchard won it in overtime.

Albany led for most of the game after scoring the first goal 8 minutes into the first period. The Bears couldn't beat Albany goaltender Jason Peters on any of their 11 first period shots and many of their other shots as well.

But Alexandre Giroux (14th) scored about 4 minutes into the 2nd period to tie the game at 1. But the Rats came back and took another 1 goal lead with just over a minute to play in the period when Harrison Reed deflected a shot and it jumped up over Varlamov's shoulder into the net.

For much of the 3rd period it looked like Albany might send the Bears home with their first loss in 7 games but about halfway through the period Kyle Wilson scored his 8th of the year to tie it.

From that point on the Bears dominated play. They threw everything they had at Peters and the Albany defense but couldn't get the game winner.

Halfway through overtime Bouchard (7th) took a little drop pass from Josh Godfrey and beat Peters with a perfect shot to the upper corner to win the game.

Watching the team celebrate Bouchards goal was good. They all swarmed the rookie and Simeon Varlamov was probably the most excited. You could see him jumping up and down in his goalie equipment along with all his teammates. I guess winning translates easy in any language!

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Kyle Wilson - game tying goal and tied for team lead with 5 shots
  2. Francois Bouchard - perfect goal in OT to win the game for Hershey
  3. Alexandre Giroux - first goal kept Hershey in it. he also had 5 shots

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - C+ - They got the win but they were outplayed for much of this game. 28 shots is not what we are used to seeing from this team. Albany played very well at the defensive end and limited Hershey's attempts.
  • Defense - A - Considering the guys who are back on the blue line this group is playing GREAT! A week ago Josh Godfrey, Sasha Pokulok, and Patrick Wellar were all playing the ECHL and last night they played very well in the A. Sasha especially looked very good out there.
  • Goaltending - B - I missed the first goal so I can't tell you what it was like but the 2nd one there was nothing Varlie could have done with it. I nice shot and a beautiful redirect by the forward in front. My only complaint on Varlie is that sometimes he comes so far out to challenge that he leaves the net wide open for a second or two. He hasn't really been caught on it but it will happen sooner or later.
  • Power Play - B+ - 1 for 4 with the man advantage isn't great but they had plenty of opportunities. They set up well and moved the puck with ease but couldn't find the back of the net.
  • Penalty Kill - B - allowed 1 goal on 5 chances which wasn't terrible but it could have been better. But again, considering the players and what the roster looks like right now I would say a solid job.
  • Overall - B - If the Bears play this way against a good offensive team they won't make it out with a win. Albany deserves some credit for the defensive play but Hershey is the better team and they didn't show it at all times last night.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Bears @ Albany Preview - 11/28

Hershey Bears
record ~ 15-5-0-1 31 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Binghamton, 11/26
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 8-3-0-1
goals for ~ 92
goals against ~60
power play ~ 18.6% (10th)
penalty kill ~ 79.8% (24th)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 5-9-2-2 14 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 SO Win @ Binghamton, 11/27
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 2-4-2-1
goals for ~ 39
goals against ~ 60
power play ~ 12.9% (26th)
penalty kill ~ 87.2% (5th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-0 at Albany on November 7.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- In his last 5 games he has scored 4 goals and added 8 assists. Only 1 of his league leading 22 assists this season has come against Albany.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - No one has been hotter as of late. The Big O has 6 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games. He has scored in both Albany games this season.
LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - 4 goals and 7 assists in the last 5 games. A traditional goal scoring power is becoming an assist machine with those 7.


RW Jerome Samson (17) - In 12 games this season he is tied for second in points with 8 (5 goals and 3 assists). But he is a team leading -10 in 12 GAMES!
RW Jakub Petruzalek (16) - Leading the team in points with 5 goals and 4 assists for 9 points in 18 games.
C Stefan Chaput (15) - 12 games into his rookie season he has 2 goals and 6 assists to also tie for 2nd on the team in points.

There is only 1 team that has scored fewer goals than Albany this season and that is Rochester. San Antonio has also only scored 39 goals. But any way you look at it the Rats are having trouble offensively this season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

6 In A Row!

Hershey won their sixth game in a row tonight with a 4-1 win against Binghamton in Hershey. It was a dominating performance from Hershey in every phase of the game even though the score doesn't indicate it.

The win is even more impressive when you consider that 4 Bears were called up to Washington this morning and 3 players called up from South Carolina in the last 24 hours played.

Sasha Pokulok, Michael Dubuc, and Maxime Lacroix joined Steve Pinozzotto as call ups that played tonight against the Senators. Pokulok was watched closely by many Bears fans as he has been a highly talked about player for a while now as a former high draft pick that hasn't played very well. He was OK tonight but he did make some bad errors but was fortunate to be saved on them by Simeon Varlamov in goal.

Dubuc was the most impressive of the 4 as he had some good opportunities and hustled every step of the way.

The other player that really stepped up was Oskar Osala who added his 14th and 15th goals of the season. Keith Aucoin (9) and Alexandre Giroux (13) also scored for Hershey.

It was a well played game as the Bears went 2 for 6 on the power play and didn't allow a power play goal on 6 opportunities. The referee, Chris Cozzan, let the players play most of the night as he only called the obvious penalties and generally kept everything moving.

A good game for the Bears. 6 in a row is the longest streak of the season. Hopefully they can make it 7 on Friday in Albany.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Simeon Varlamov - 23 saves on 24 shots and some were very impressive
  2. Oskar Osala - 2 goals and an assist for a 3 point night
  3. Keith Aucoin - 1 goal (game winner) and 1 assist and a solid night of play

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - Not too many shots. They seemed to be chasing a little bit tonight but they did get some opportunities. A 2 on none shorthanded at the end should have been converted by Giroux and Aucoin. I thought they were having some trouble getting into the zone and really working the puck once they got into the zone.
  • Defense - B+ - A very good night save a couple concentration lapses by a couple guys. The forwards were huge on the backcheck and the d-men had solid position and play all night. A couple times it seemed the players were standing around a bit but it didn't cost them.
  • Goaltending - A - The reason it didn't cost them was because Varlamov was huge in net again. He made some really big saves to keep this a game the Bears were firmly in control of. Very impressive tonight.
  • Power Play - A - I thought this unit didn't wonderfully tonight. 2 for 6 and a couple of those were really short power plays.
  • Penalty Kill - B+ - No goals allowed will get you a good grade. A couple times they were almost caught out of position because they were chasing a little bit.
  • Overall - B + - A very good night that was never really in any danger. A little more focus of getting the puck deep and working the cycle and I think this team would have added 2 more goals. The call ups did a solid job and will likely be called upon again on Friday night.


Sens @ Bears Preview, 11/26

Hershey Bears
record ~ 14-5-0-1 28 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Bridgeport, 11/22
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
home record ~ 6-2-0-0
goals for ~ 88
goals against ~59
power play ~ 17.9% (10th)
penalty kill ~ 78.8% (26th)

Binghamton Senators
record ~ 9-7-2-1 21 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Win @ Syracuse, 11/23
last 5 games ~ 1-3-1-0
road record ~ 6-4-1-0
goals for ~ 50
goals against ~ 62
power play ~ 24.4% (1st)
penalty kill ~ 79.0% (24th)

last time teams met - Hershey won at home 9-0 on November 16.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- In the last 4 games he has 3 goals and 7 assists including 1 goal and 4 assists against Bingo on Nov 16.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - In the last 5 games he has 1 goal and 5 assists. Included in that is an assist in each of the last 5 games.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - In the last 7 games he has 2 goals and 8 assists which includes at least 1 assist in 5 straight games.


C Ilya Zubov (36) - Just recently returned to Sens after a stint in the NHL. He was not on the ice for the 9-0 game 10 days ago.
C Zack Smith (19) - Is the 2nd highest scorer on the team but he hasn't tallied a point in the last 5 games.
C Josh Hennessy (23) - In the last 2 games he has 3 goals and an assist.

News and Notes:
  • Injuries to many of the Capitals could result in at least 1 call up this week. Boyd Gordon, John Erskine, and Jeff Schultz left Monday's game with injuries. They joined Mike Green, Alexander Semin, and Sergei Federov on the injured list. If they are unable to come back you could see a Bear or two (Sami Lepisto has been mentioned) getting called up today.
  • If Sami or another D-Man is called up expect the Bears to recall a defenseman from South Carolina for tonight's game.


  • Bouque, Lepisto, Alzner, and Mink have all been recalled by the Capitals and are all in Washington at practice.
  • The Bears in turn recalled Maxime Lacroix and Sasha Pokulok yesterday from South Carolina.
  • Michael Dubuc was recalled from South Carolina this morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Weekend in Review

I obviously haven't done my game reviews yet for this weekends games. So today I will review the weekend as a whole instead of each game.

The Bears regained first place in the East division for a short period this weekend after winning both of their games this weekend.

Personally I felt that both games were very well played by the Bears. They beat Philadelphia 5-2 on Friday night and then returned home and beat Bridgeport 4-1 on Saturday night.

With those two wins the Bears have now won 5 straight and are right with Bridgeport in the standings at only 1 point back.

It would appear that the Bears have gotten past their scoring slump and the goaltenders seem to have overcome their mental mistakes and the entire team and coaching staff had a very complete weekend.

Both goalies assisted on goals, Simeon Varlamov on Kyle Wilson's eventual game winner on Friday night and Daren Machesney on Sami Lepisto's eventual game winner on Saturday night. It was the first assist of the season for both goalies and it was the first of Varlamov's AHL career.

Scoring came from many different lines in the two games. The MAG line accounted for 3 goals with each of the players (Mink, Aucoin, and Giroux) scoring goals. The Bourque, Joudrey, and Gordon line scored 1 (Gordon's 9th), the rookie line scored 2 goals (Osala and Bouchard), the Laing, Wilson, Reid/Pinnizzotto line added 2 from Wilson on Friday night, and Sami Lepisto got into the scoring for the defense.

That just shows how good this team can be offensively as they got goals from each line and the defense in two games.

My Three Stars of the Weekend:

  1. The MAG Line - all three players totaled a goal and 2 assists in the two games
  2. Kyle Wilson - scored 2 Friday and is playing as good as anyone right now
  3. Mathieu Perrault - all over the place in both games and 2 primary assists

Grading the Performance of the Weekend:

  • Offense - A - 9 goals in 2 games against a rival on the road and a good team against Bridgeport. They totaled 75 shots in the two games and are making life very difficult for opposing goalies. As I mentioned before the entire team (all 4 lines and the defense) is scoring right now. Can't get much more complete than that.
  • Defense - A - 3 goals on 50 shots is all they allowed in 2 games. Very good weekend for the Bears D. Greg Amadio was exceptional all weekend and really showed me something on the weekend. There were still some minor lapses but you can't ever be perfect.
  • Goaltending - A - Varlamov stopped 30 of 32 in Philly Friday night and Cheese responded with 17 saves on 18 shots Saturday night in Hershey. Both goalies played very well and were helped out by their defense when they needed to be.
  • Power Play - B - 2 for 13 on the weekend isn't terrible but it isn't great either. They shot plenty but did have some trouble getting set up in the offensive zone.
  • Penalty Kill - C - Allowed 2 goals on 10 opportunities in two games. Not terrible but not good either. They need to stay more disciplined in their own zone on the kills.
  • Overall - A - I think this team is a complete team that can do everything well. If they need to play physical they can and if they need to score a lot they can. When they are focused and avoid hot goaltenders this team can score at will and this weekend proved that.

Interesting Stat:

In the past 5 games the Bears have outscored the opponents 28-8 and haven't allowed more than 3 goals in any of the games. Pretty good.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sound Tigers @ Bears Preview, 11/22

Hershey Bears
record ~ 13-5-0-1 27 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-2 Win @ Philadelphia, 11/21
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 5-2-0-0
goals for ~ 84
goals against ~58
power play ~ 17.4% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 78.3% (27th)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers
record ~ 13-3-0-2 28 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Win @ San Antonio, 11/18
last 5 games ~ 4-0-0-1
home record ~ 7-2-0-1
goals for ~ 63
goals against ~ 42
power play ~ 19.3% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 84.1% (15th)

last time teams met - Bridgeport won 4-1 in Bridgeport on Nov 9.

Players to watch:


C Kyle Wilson (18)- He had 2 goals in last night's 5-2 win over Philadelphia. Those gave him 7 on the year with 9 assists this season.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - He seems to be the only player really slumping anymore and he seems to be pressing a bit on the power plays. He only has 2 goals in his last 11 games.
C Andrew Joudrey (23) - He only has 3 assists on the season but he brings energy and effort to whatever line he is centering. Also a good penalty killer.


C Mike Iggulden (37) - Tied for the team lead in points with 20. He has a point in 7 straight games (5 goals and 4 assists).
C Kurtis McClean (71) - Also has 20 points on the season. Has a point in 9 of his last 10 games with 4 goals and 12 assists in those games including 2 goals against Hershey.
D Jamie Fraser (3) - A solid defenseman who isn't necessarily an offensive force but he leads the team with a +11 on the season.

News and Notes:

Steve Pinnozzotto was recalled from South Carolina to take Grant McNeill spot while GMac recovers from a broken wrist.
GMac is expected to miss 6-8 weeks.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Bears @ Phantoms Preview, 11/21

42Hershey Bears
record ~ 12-5-0-1 25 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 9-0 Win vs Binghamton, 11/16
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 7-3-0-1
goals for ~ 79
goals against ~56
power play ~ 18.2% (10th)
penalty kill ~ 78.7% (27th)

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 9-8-0-0 18 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-0 Win vs Albany, 11/19
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 3-3-0-0
goals for ~ 50
goals against ~ 47
power play ~ 19.4% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 87.0% (5th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 7-3 in Hershey last Saturday night.

Players to watch:


LW Alexandre Giroux (12)- It appears as though he is finding his scoring touch again with 6 points (2 goals, 4 assists) in the last 2 games.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Like Giroux it appears Coiner has found his playmaking touch again. He has 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists) in the last 2 games.
D Sami Lepisto (37) - Sami has seemingly gotten past whatever was bothering him and has started playing better again. He also has come alive the past 2 games with 4 assists.


C Jared Ross (18) - This will be his first game against Hershey this season. In 6 games with the Phantoms this season he has 5 goals and 4 assists.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - On the season he has 7 goals and 7 assists. In his last 5 games he has 4 goals and 3 assists.
C Jonathon Matsumoto (11) - Leading the Phantoms with 9 goals and also has 1 assist. Half of his 10 points have come against Hershey including 4 goals.

News and Notes:

Jay Beagle, Dean Arsene, and Sean Collins are still injured and none of them are expected to play this weekend.
Tyler Sloan remains on recall to Washington and could be joined by another defensemen if Mike Green's injury will keep him out.
The Michael Nylander trade rumors have started up again as Chicago last night scratched the two players rumored to be involved in a trade for Nylander, Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel.

Monday, November 17, 2008

6 Point Weekend

The Bears finished off their best weekend of the season as they earned all 6 points possible in stunning fashion by outscoring the opponents 19-5 in the three games.

What a difference in flow between Saturday and Sunday. In Saturday's game referee Nygel Pelletier called 23 different penalties as the Bears went 4 for 8 on the power play. Sunday night referee Jeff Smith called only 10 penalties (4 were for fighting) and the Bears went 1 for 2 on the power play.

But there was something that didn't change between Saturday and Sunday....

The Bears scoring a lot!

If you didn't see it or hear it or read about it yet the Bears beat the Binghamton Senators last night 9-0 in Hershey.

Yes you read that right....9-0! 8 of those goals came at even strength and after the first period.

It was actually a game where Bingo played better than Hershey in the first period outshooting the Bears 14-12 in the period but they trailed 1-0 on a goal from Alexandre Giroux (10th of the year).

And then the flood gates opened. Almost half way through the second period Andrew Gordon added his 8th of the year. Graham Mink (8th and 9th), Francois Bouchard (5th), Keith Aucoin (7th), and Kyle Wilson (4th) all scored in the second half of the second period.

Giroux (11th) and Mathieu Perrault (4th) finished up the scoring in the third period.

Combine 9 goals with 26 saves from Daren Machesney and the Bears looked like a very dominant team. Albeit against a team WITHOUT 3 of their top 5 scorers.

It was a very good game after the midway point of the second period for the Bears but before anyone thinks the Bears are back and are going to score at will again remember that this Bingo team was severely short handed. While it isn't an excuse for why the Bears won because they more than likely would have anyway it is a reason not to get super excited about a big score. And I know 3 players doesn't make a team but think back to last season and imagine playing without Wilson, Bourque, and Lepisto and realize that the Bears would have been in trouble too.

But either way I huge win for the Bears and a big confident boost for Cheese.

My Three Stars of The Game:
  1. Keith Aucoin - 1 goal and 4 assists in the game. All 4 assists were primary assists.
  2. Alexandre Giroux - scored the game winner and then added another goal and 2 assists.
  3. Graham Mink - 2 goals and 2 assists
Grading the Performance:

Offense - A - after the first period the offense turned it on. Amazing passes and great shots led to a huge win for Hershey. I think the best pass of the night was Perrault's pass to Bouchard in the second period for Bouchard's goal. If you didn't see it Perrault looked up and made a perfect pass through the D and the crease right onto Bouchards stick for the goal, these guys can play with ANYBODY.
Defense - A - I don't think they were really ever tested even though Cheese faced 26 shots. It never felt like Bingo was anywhere near scoring on most of those shots. I think it was a testament to the backchecking and defensive zone play by the team that Bingo didn't have any good looks.
Goaltending - A - There were some tough saves in their especially early when the game was close. Remember that the score was only 1-0 at the 9 minute mark of the second period. He kept the team in the game and made the onslaught possible with some key saves.
Power Play - ? - I can't really give a grade since they only had 2 opportunities. They did score on one so it was a solid night but not enough to really get an idea of the unit.
Penalty Kill - A - I can't think of anything they did wrong. They faced 4 power plays and stopped all of them. You can't ask for much more.
Overall - A - Obviously a very good game for the Bears. Really though I think Bingo stopped playing about midway through the second. But the Bears didn't and made it all look real easy for most of the night.

Next up for Hershey is Friday at Philadelphia.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Binghamton @ Bears Preview, 11/16

Hershey Bears
record ~ 11-5-0-1 23 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 7-3 Win vs Philadelphia, 11/15
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 4-2-0-0
goals for ~ 70
goals against ~56
power play ~ 17.6% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 77.9% (27th)

Binghamton Senators
record ~ 8-5-1-1 18 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss @ Wilkes Barre, 11/15
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 5-3-1-0
goals for ~ 45
goals against ~ 45
power play ~ 27.21% (1st)
penalty kill ~ 80.8% (25th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in Hershey on October 25th.

Players to watch:


LW Oskar Osala (36)- He had his first career hat trick last night against Philly. He is now tied for 2nd in the league with 12 goals on the season.
RW Francois Bouchard (22) - In the last 2 games he has 1 goal and 3 assists and has been playing his best hockey of the season. He has 4 goals and 7 assists on the season.
D Patrick McNeill (2) - Not on offensive force but he is playing as well as any Bear lately. He is very steady back on the blue line and has earned his spot with solid play.


D Brandon Bell
(7) - The defenseman has 6 goals and 9 assists on the season including 1 goal against Hershey earlier this year.
C Zach Smith (19) - On the season he has 9 goals and 5 assists. In the last 6 games he has 3 goals and 3 assists.
G Jeff Glass (35) - Brian Elliott played Friday and Saturday so Glass should get the nod tonight. He is struggling a bit this season with a 1-2 record, a 3.47 gaa, and a .896 save percentage in 4 games.

  • Binghamton had 2 of their top players Ilya Zubov and Ryan Shannon called up to Ottawa before their game Friday night. Zubov is the leading scorer and Shannon is 4th on the team in points. Unsure if either or both players will be back for tonight's game in Hershey.
  • Bingo is #1 in the league in power play percentage and Bell and Smith have accounted for 8 of their 19 power play goals. Zubov and Shannon have 7 more.
  • Expect Daren Machesney to get the start for Hershey as Varlamov has played the past 2 games.
  • Also expect to see #4 Josh Godfrey in the lineup tonight against Bingo.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big O!!

Oskar Osala added his 9th, 10th, and 11th goals of this season tonight with his FIRST CAREER HAT TRICK!!

What a game for the Bears. Despite referee Nygel Pelletier and his ridiculous calls the Bears welcomed the Phantoms to Hershey with 5 third period goals on their way to a 7-3 win.

Pelletier called 23 penalties, 2 of which were for fighting, and 1 coincidental minors. There were 19 power plays between the two teams. The Phantoms received 11 power plays and scored on 2 while the Bears went 4 for 8 with the man advantage.

Easily one of the WORST officiating calls I have seen watching hockey. He was calling a lot of little penalties while at the same time allowing other should be calls go. And then he managed to award Philly a penalty shot when there was no reason for one.

I don't have a problem if you want to call everything. BUT CALL EVERYTHING! He would call a hook on one guy and then someone else would do it and he would let it go. Very inconsistent is the best way to grade Pelletier.

But for the Bears it was a great performance. The entire team played well and skated hard. In particular I thought Alexandre Giroux had his best game in a couple weeks. He tallied 2 assists but more importantly he skated as hard as he has in a while and played the body constantly.

For some reason Coach Woods took Osala off the rookie line and put Giroux on it for part of the game. I wouldn't break that line up ever again. In fact I would make that my number 1 line. All three of the players (Osala, Perrault, and Bouchard) play with intensity and joy. Watching the three on the bench after the hat trick for Osala you saw how much they LOVE playing this game. And both Bouchard and Perrault were just as happy for Osala as the Big O was for himself. In fact Bouchard might have enjoyed it even more than Oskar.

A complete game that once again showed this teams potential and talent.

My Three Stars of the Game

  1. Oskar Osala - his first career hat trick included the game winner tonight
  2. Francois Bouchard - an INCREDIBLE pass for Osala's second goal and 2 other assists
  3. Mathieu Perrault - only 1 assist but he hustled and skated hard ALL game long

Grading the Performance:

  • Offense - B+ - For the first 2 periods the Bears got close but couldn't break through. Much like last night they had lots of chances but couldn't seem to get any breaks or bounces. And then the third period came and the flood gates opened. 41 shots for the game, 23 in the third period alone.
  • Defense - B - For the most part a very good performance. The penalty shot wasn't necessarily their fault for the goal but they were out of position which led to the penalty. A very good performance overall as even Lepisto was taking the body in the corners. At times the defense was caught a little flat footed and took some bad penalties but they managed to overcome.
  • Goaltending - B+ - The first goal by Syvret was perfectly placed. Varlamov played the angle to perfection but you can't stop a perfect shot. Right before the penalty shot Varlamov stopped Matsumoto on the breakaway with a great pad save and really didn't stand a chance against a very good goal scorer. The third goal maybe could have been stopped but a tough one to get to. Other than being out of position from time to time another solid performance from the rookie.
  • Power Play - B+ - 4 for 8 will get you a good grade and most of the power plays were well orchestrated and played properly. On a couple though they had a hard time getting in the zone and getting set up. But overall a good night.
  • Penalty Kill - A - I thought this unit was great. Yes they allowed a couple goals but they were ambushed by Pelletier in that second period.
  • Overall - B+ - A great game from the team. Even Woods was getting pissed about the ridiculous calls that were being called. They survived a good Phantoms team and an official out to get em in the second period. Good Game Bears!

news and notes:
  • Sean Collins was injured in the game Friday night in Philly and did not play tonight.
  • Josh Godfrey was called up from South Carolina as Collins is not expected to play tomorrow against Bingo. Godfrey will probably play Sunday night.
  • I was surprised to see Varlamov in net tonight. Expect to see Machesney tomorrow evening but Simeon is playing well enough to get another start in my opinion.

Phantoms @ Bears Preview, 11/15

Hershey Bears
record ~ 10-5-0-1 21 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win @ Philadelphia, 11/14
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
home record ~ 3-2-0-0
goals for ~ 63
goals against ~53
power play ~ 15.0% (19th)
penalty kill ~ 77.4% (27th)

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 8-7-0-0 16 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Loss vs Hershey, 11/14
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 6-4-0-0
goals for ~ 42
goals against ~ 40
power play ~ 19.8% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 89.3% (5th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 last night in Philly.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- He needs to start producing again. He has 2 assists in his last 8 games and the team is not producing without him. No points last night.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - A nice game last night with a goal and an assist. Now lets see it happen again, back to back good games? Let's hope so.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - He makes the rookie line go and he did again last night. Right now I would say he is playing the best hockey on the team.


LW Boyd Kane
(28) - He has 6 goals and 4 assists this season. 5 of those goals have come against the Bears.
D Danny Syvret (25) - The defenseman has 3 goals and 11 assists so far and is leading the team in points. Against Hershey he has a goal and 5 assists in 4 games.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - He is second on the team with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists) in 15 games. 1 goal and 4 assists in 4 games against the Bears.

The second of three games this weekend. Daren Machesney will PROBABLY get the start in goal tonight.

Strange but true....the Phantoms do not have a SINGLE player on their roster right now who is a plus in plus/minus. Everyone is either even or worse. The worst player....Jonathon Matsumoto...a -10. In comparison the Bears only have 3 players in the minus, Reid, Amadio, and G McNeill. EVERYONE else is a plus. It does kinda show that plus/minus isn't the most important stat you can look at.

Bears Get the W

I watched most of the game last night when AHL Live wasn't freezing and messing up. Unfortunately I had to listen to the Phantoms announcers most of the night as the Hershey audio was barely audible.

But from what I saw the team looked better than they have lately. It seemed that they skated hard the entire game and hustled. They went after the loose pucks along the boards and threw their weight around nicely.

The all rookie line of Osala, Perrault, and Bouchard again played extremely well. How this line is not the #1 line yet I don't know but they sure have played like it. Bouchard earned his 4th goal of the season 2 minutes into the game after Perrault stole the puck from a Phantom and set him up in the slot.

Chris Bourque also played much better last night as he assisted on Mink's goal and then added the eventual game winner a little bit later for a nice 2 point night.

Varlamov played pretty well in net only allowing 2 goals on 24 shots. I am sure he would want the short handed goal back as it just trickled through him and fell into the goal. But he was big the rest of the night.

But the defense also played very well and seem to have stepped up their game some.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Chris Bourque - a goal and an assist will get you 1st star most days
  2. Mathieu Perrault - no one skated as hard or hustled more than he did
  3. Sean Collins - probably the best defenseman last night, he made some big plays on the blue line

Grading the Performance:

Offense - B - 3 goals is good but there outta be more when you take 39 shots. The power play looked MUCH better as they took more shots and had many good opportunities and even tallied a goal on 6 attempts. Some players still bothered by their slump but Minker broke through his and Bourque did too.
Defense - B - The shorty came with Bourque on defense and it was probably a soft goal but other than that I thought the defense played very solid. Nothing flashy but that is what you want to see. Patty McNeill has really found a place on this team. Him and Sean Collins are going to be regulars in the lineup no matter who is with the team.
Goaltending - B - 22 saves on 24 shots is good. The shorty wasn't but as long as you stop almost all the other shots you can have 1 redo a night. Can he handle a second game in a 3 game weekend? I suspect we are going to find out.
Power Play - B - A lot better. Taking more shots instead of just passing around waiting for the perfect play.
Penalty Kill - ? - Only had to play 2 times but they didn't allow a goal so that was good.
Overall - B - A good game but more importantly a complete game. They never seemed to stop playing and were always near the puck. This is the way a hockey team should play....with intensity and urgency NO MATTER the record or the talent on a team.

Next up is Philly again...this time at home.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Bears @ Phantoms Preview, 11/14

Hershey Bears
record ~ 9-5-0-1 19 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Loss @ Bridgeport, 11/9
last 5 games ~ 1-3-0-1
road record ~ 6-3-0-1
goals for ~ 60
goals against ~51
power play ~ 14.9% (20th)
penalty kill ~ 76.9% (27th)

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 8-6-0-0 16 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-0 Win @ Providence, 11/9
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 2-2-0-0
goals for ~ 40
goals against ~ 37
power play ~ 20.2% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 89.7% (3rd)

last time teams met - Philadelphia won 4-3 in a shootout on November 2 in Philadelphia.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- He needs to start producing again. He has 2 assists in his last 7 games and the team is not producing without him.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - Now that he is on the top line with Aucoin and Graham Mink he needs to score some more. He isn't much better than Aucoin over the past 7 games as he only has 3 assists in those games.
G Simeon Varlamov (31) - He is expected to get the start in Philly tonight. The Bears more than anything need some steady goaltending to help out the offense.


RW David Laliberte
(10) - He only has 2 goals and 5 assists this season in 9 games. But both goals and 3 of the assists have come against the Bears.
D Danny Syvret (25) - The defenseman has 3 goals and 12 assists so far and is leading the team in points. Against Hershey he has a goal and 5 assists in 3 games.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - He is second on the team with 11 points (5 goals and 6 assists) in 14 games. 1 goal and 3 assists in 3 games against the Bears.

This is the first of back to back games between the Bears and Phantoms as well as the first of 4 games in the next 15 days. The Bears return home for Saturday nights game against Philly and finish the weekend at home against Bingo.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bears Lose 2 of 3

I did not get to watch or listen to Sunday's game against Bridgeport so I will not even begin to critique the team's performance in that game.

But I will say that the problems are not getting better and the longer the problems last the more serious they become.

There are many out there that don't feel that it is time to panic or make any wholesale changes. They believe that the team is okay and it is still too early. That there is plenty of time for the team to regain their form and everything will be okay.

But let me throw this out there...

What if the current play IS their form? What if the beginning of the season was the above average play and this is more what the team is capable of?

I don't believe that is the case but you can't sit around and do nothing in case it is.

Coach Woods has begun to make some small changes by moving Chris Bourque to the top line and Alexandre Giroux to the second line for now. At least that is how it is at practice right now. There is no commitment to stick with those lines for the weekend.

I think that is a start but if that doesn't work then what?

And what about the goaltending? With the exception of last Friday at Albany Simeon Varlamov hasn't been much more impressive than Daren Machesney.

Personally I think it is time to stop talking about loan with Michal Neuvirth and call him up to the Bears. Give him a chance to prove himself up in the A. While he is up send Cheese down and let him get some confidence back.

But no matter what they do they can't just stand around and wait. By Thanksgiving the Bears will be more than a quarter into their season. There isn't a lot of time to wait and watch to see what changes. It's time to MAKE changes.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bears @ Sound Tigers Preview, 11/9

Hershey Bears
record ~ 9-4-0-1 19 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Wilkes Barre, 11/8
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 6-2-0-1
goals for ~ 59
goals against ~47
power play ~ 15.6% (19th)
penalty kill ~ 76.7% (27th)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers
record ~ 9-3-0-1 19 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-4 OT Win vs Lowell, 11/8
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 4-1-0-0
goals for ~ 44
goals against ~ 32
power play ~ 19.3% (9th)
penalty kill ~ 86.4% (10th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season

Players to watch:


C Kyle Wilson (18)- He scored twice last night to up his total to 3 on the season. He also has 8 assist this year. Hopefully his scoring can continue as the team needs some consistent offensive output.
G Simeon Varlamov (31) - Can he be the #1? We are about to find out. Bridgeport is currently tied with Hershey for the division lead so this is a good test for the rookie goalie.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - With 9 goals and 2 assists he is having a wonderful rookie campaign. The rookie line (Perrault, Bouchard, and Osala) is the only line to sustain pressure lately. He has 4 goals in the last 4 games. He is also leading the Bears with a +10 on the year.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers:

C Mike Iggulden
(37) - With 7 goals and 6 assists he is tied for the team lead in goals and points.
D Jamie Fraser (3) - The defenseman has 2 goals and 5 assists so far and is leading the team with a +9.
C Kurtis McLean (71) - Tied for the team lead with 13 points he has 3 goals and 10 assists in 13 games this season.

The Bears are finishing up a 3 in 3 weekend and need to rebound from a tough game last night where they played well but couldn't get the W. Varlamov starts his second game in goal of the weekend and needs to be big in net against a good Sound Tiger's team.

Swiss Cheese???

6 shots in last night and the Penguins had 3 goals.

It was that kind of night for Daren Machesney. He was pulled after the 3rd goal for Simeon Varlamov who ended up the goalie of record after he allowed 1 goal as the Baby Pens won 4-3.

Machesney came back in the 3rd period so that Varlamov could play tonight in Bridgeport. He made save on all 7 shots he faced in the 3rd.

I said it yesterday and it didn't happen. Cheese had to play good or he was going to be replaced as the #1 goalie in Hershey.

I personally believe Varlamov is now the number 1. And in my opinion Michal Neuvirth should be called up from South Carolina so we can see what he can do. There is no reason to loan a goalie out when we need one right now.

I didn't get to watch the game last night so I have no opinion on the stats or performance. And maybe I am wrong about Cheese but it didn't sound like he played a very good game.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Bears @ Penguins Preview, 11/8

Hershey Bears
record ~ 9-3-0-1 17 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Win @ Albany, 11/7
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 6-1-0-1
goals for ~ 56
goals against ~43
power play ~ 15.7% (18th)
penalty kill ~ 76.5% (27th)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
record ~ 6-4-0-1 13 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-0 Win vs Lowell 11/7
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 2-1-0-1
goals for ~ 40
goals against ~ 34
power play ~ 15.3% (19st)
penalty kill ~ 83.1% (17th)

last time teams met - Wilkes Barre/Scranton won 5-4 in Hershey on October 19

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- He is tied for 2nd in the league with 18 points but has only tallied 1 assist in the last 5 games. The entire line (Mink, Giroux, and Aucoin) has struggled of late.
C Andrew Joudrey (23) - Has only played in 7 games so far this season and only has 2 assists in those games. But he brings energy and solid defensive play to whatever line he centers.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - With 9 goals and 2 assists he is having a wonderful rookie campaign. The rookie line (Perrault, Bouchard, and Osala) is the only line to sustain pressure lately. He has 4 goals in the last 4 games.

Wilkes Barre/Scranton:

LW Chris Minard
(14) - With 13 goals and 6 assist in 10 games he is leading the Penguins and the league in points.
C Jeff Taffe (22) - 2nd on the team in points he has totaled 8 goals and 8 assists in 10 games.
LW Janne Pesonen (25) - Has also played in 10 games this season and he has 2 goals and 11 assists in those games.

News and Notes:
  • Darren Reid was injured in the 2nd period last night in Albany and is NOT expected to play tonight.
  • Tyler Sloan has been recalled to Washington this morning in response to Shaone Morrison's injury.

Varlamov records first shutout

Simeon Varlamov, playing his first game since October 17, earned his first career AHL shutout last night in Albany. Varlamov was solid in net for the entire game and made 19 saves.

The rookie line of Oskar Osala, Mathieu Perrault, and Francois Bouchard was once again the dominate line as they scored 2 goals last night in Hershey's 3-0 win over the Rats.

Andrew Gordon tallied the first goal and the game winning goal with his 7th of the season 1 minute into the game. Osala added some insurance for the Bears with his 9th about 4 minutes into the second period. Bouchard finished up the scoring with his 3rd on the year late in the third period.

Referee Nygel Pelletier only called 9 penalties the entire night. 3 of which were called on the Rats including 1 fighting major. The Bears only received 2 power plays (one for the final 13 seconds of the game) in the game while the Rats had 5 opportunities but failed to convert on any.

The night really belonged to Varlamov though as he made save after save and had a very good night.

Somehow a River Rat managed to get onto the official 3 stars list after he was a game worst -3. It is ridiculous considering Osala, Perrault, and Bouchard were left OFF the list. The official list was Varlamov, Gordon, and Jenson. I just don't understand.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Simeon Varlamov
  2. Mathieu Perrault
  3. Andrew Gordon

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - A good performance from the rookie line but where was the top line on the score sheet? Giroux and Aucoin haven't produced in games and Beagle didn't tally any points either. But the depth of this team is showing as the all rookie line has managed to pick up much of the scoring for the team.
  • Defense - B+ - A very good job done by the defense last night. A lot of blocked shots and hustle to the puck made the difference. They were finishing their checks most of the night but I would like to see them take the body a little bit more. So many of the guys just leave guys untouched when they can easily make a solid hit. That would add a whole other dimension to this team if the ENTIRE team would start hitting more.
  • Goaltending - A - Varlamov was steady and in position for almost the entire game. There were a couple of shots that left him scrambling and out of position but he managed to stop everything which is really all you can ask of a goalie.
  • Power Play - ? - They only had 1 real opportunity and looked okay but nothing came of it.
  • Penalty Kill - A - No goals allowed on the PK for the FIRST TIME THIS SEASON! That is good. It is also something to build off of.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Bears @ Albany Preview - 11/7

Hershey Bears
record ~ 8-3-0-1 17 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Loss @ Philly, 11/2
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 5-1-0-1
goals for ~ 53
goals against ~43
power play ~ 16% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 75% (28th)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 2-5-1-1 6 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Win @ Bridgeport 11/2
last 5 games ~ 1-3-0-1
home record ~ 1-2-1-1
goals for ~ 21
goals against ~ 31
power play ~ 13.7% (21st)
penalty kill ~ 87.2% (11th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 4-3 in a shootout last Friday night in Albany.

Players to watch:


RW Jay Beagle (14)- Beagle only has 1 goal and 2 assists through 12 games but he has been playing on the checking line. He is expected to get a shot on the first line in Albany and needs to produce.
C Andrew Joudrey (23) - Judging from the lines at practice this week and the potential of some players not making the trip Joudrey is the 2nd line center. He will bring energy and solid defensive zone play to a team that needs both.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - Why again was he scratched for a game this past weekend? The all rookie line with Osala and Francois Bouchard has consistently put offensive pressure on opposing teams when they are all dressed.


Jakub Petruzalek (16) - He is tied for the team lead in goals with 3 through 9 games. He has also added 3 assists and is 2nd on the team in points.
D Mark Flood (4) - The defenseman is leading the Rats in points with 8. He has 2 goals and 6 assists on the year.
RW Nick Dodge (8) - He has scored 2 goals and 2 assists so far this year. He is leading the Rats in plus/minus with +4.

  • Graham Mink and Tyler Sloan are a little banged up and will not make the trip to Albany.
  • Dean Arsene is feeling some effects of his sports hernia surgery from last season and could be out for an extended period.
  • Simeon Varlamov is expected to start in goal tonight for his first game since October 17th.
  • Bobby Goepfert has been reassigned to South Carolina of the ECHL.


Monday, November 3, 2008

What's Ailing the Bears?

The Bears are 8-3-0-1 after 12 games. Good enough for 17 points and a 2 point lead in the division.

Is this team in trouble?

Some would say no they aren't. They are 8-3-0-1 and there is plenty of time.

Others would say yes. The power play is stale, the penalty kill is bad, the defense is struggling, and the goaltending is questionable.

I personally fall somewhere in the middle. I think the team has many problems but I also think it is early and some of the problems will correct themselves.

Here are the (potential) problems as I see them:
  • Goaltending
  • Defense
  • Offensive production
  • Power Play
  • Penalty Kill
  • Coaching

Now lets look at each a little more in-depth.

No one is going to argue that Daren Machesney hasn't had some problems this year. He consistently seems out of position and seems to be fighting the puck an awful lot this year. His rebound control is poor at this point. Numbers - 3.52 GAA (34th in the league) and a save percentage of 86.2% (good for 42nd out of 44 in the league) Not good.

Simeon Varlamov has only played in 2 games due to injury and hasn't really been much better so far. He is due back this weekend so we should get a better look coming up.

Bobby Goepfert has been the best goalie so far based on numbers. He has also played in 2 games and won one and lost one. His GAA is 2.77 and his save percentage is 90.3.

Solution: Don't really have one. This is something that the goalies are going to have to work out on their own. Varlamov will be back and maybe he can add something. If not Michal Neuvirth is down in South Carolina and he should be brought up to see what he can do. It isn't like you can do different things in strategy or style with goaltenders. They are who they are and they do what they do no matter what is going on.


This unit is not producing like they should. Last year many people considered the defense to be the problem with the team. So Hershey went out and brought in a couple of veteran players in Bryan Helmer and Greg Amadio. And some of the younger players made progress and moved up to Hershey, Karl Alzner, Patrick McNeill, and Sean Collins. They joined the holdovers from last year, Dean Arsene, Sami Lepisto, and Tyler Sloan.

There hasn't been any improvement so far.

The problem seems to be players just standing around and then rushing when they get the puck. The defense isn't entirely to blame for the goals being scored but I have seen many a defensemen out of position this season.

3 players in particular seem to like hitting more than playing. Arsene, Amadio, and Grant McNeill (plays wing more than D) seem like they would rather take off a guys head than play their position on the ice. Deano was even in the booth one game and made a comment that G Mac was out of position cause he went for a hit.

YOU CAN'T DO THAT and expect to win regularly.

And just to throw this out there.....Helmer is 36, maybe he has lost a step. That and he has always been more of an offensive defenseman than a defensive defenseman. And I think he is being asked to do A LOT more defensively this year than he has had to in the past.

Solution: Sit Helmer every now and then. I know he is the captain but he is 36 and he could benefit from some days off. Same thing for Deano, which is being done, since he is injury prone and not the swiftest skater. Amadio should not play more than half of the games this year and if Deano is in, Amadio is out.

And make sure there is an offensive guy with a defensive guy. Put Helmer with Alzner, Sloan with Lepisto, and Deano with Collins/P McNeill. That way you have a guy that can skate and jump up with a guy that typically likes to stay back on the blue line.

Offensive Production:
This will come back on its own in time. All teams and all players go through slumps no matter what sport. Unfortunately all of the Bears slumps have hit at the same time.

Solution: I hate to break up lines just because of a few games but maybe Coach Woods could change it up for a game or two. I would drop Alexandre Giroux down to the second line and put Chris Bourque up on the top line. And I would also drop Darren Reid to the bench and put in a guy like Andrew Joudrey who can help out on the PK as well.

Other than that....go with the hot hand/line. Put the Oskar Osala, Mathieu Perrault, and Francois Bouchard line out more often. Give them some power play shifts maybe. But get them out there more than they are right now.

Power Play:
Some would put this in with offensive production but I think it is entirely different. The power play is currently ranked 16th in the league (out of 29), scoring on 13 of their league high 81 opportunities. Not terrible you say?? Look closer. If you eliminate the first game of the season they are 8 of 74 for 24th in the league.

Now how do you feel about the PP?

Solution: CHANGE UP THE LINES!! Don't put the MAG line out together. Definitely move Bourque off the point and onto the wing. He is not as valuable on the point in my opinion. No one is getting shots through from out there. Move him to the circle and let him shoot from there. Put the rookie line out there. Get Beagle out there to scrap. Do all of these things.

The power play thought it was so powerful after the first game and now they are falling apart it seems. It needs changed NOW!

Penalty Kill:
This has been a problem since the first game. And it isn't getting better. They are currently 28th in the league. Opposing teams have scored 19 power play goals on 76 opportunities against the Bears. That is bad.

I personally think certain players make or break a penalty kill. And in this case I believe there are 2 players on the Bears that shouldn't be ANYWHERE near the penalty kill.

Bryan Helmer and Alexandre Giroux. Giroux is a no brainer in my opinion. He is a goal scorer, not a defensive forward. But Helmer is a little bit more surprising. But check this stat out...of the 19 power play goals given up....Helmer has been on the ice for 11 of them! NOT GOOD!

Solution: Obviously after reading above I say sit Helmer on the PK. Put Alzner out there with Collins and P. McNeill. When Deano is healthy than he should be on the ice for the PK. Sloan has had some problems too so put Lepisto out there instead. You need guys that can move out there, not statues. The more statues the worse you are going to be.

And the forwards are not immune to this. Along with Giroux I don't think Keith Aucoin or Graham Mink should be out there. Forwards I want to see out there are Quintin Laing, Jay Beagle, Bourque, Joudrey, and maybe even the rooks Perrault and Bouchard. At least give them a shot.

This is the big one. People have been trying to blame Woods since last spring. I am not saying that his coaching method needs tweaked. I am saying that he needs to take control of this team.

Everyone made a very big deal about how many former captains and alternate captains there were on this team. There are many veterans who like to play and have been playing for a long time. But that isn't necessarily a great thing. At times it works and when things aren't working you have to hope the locker room isn't dividing due to different leaders saying different things.

Is that happening here? I don't think so but if things don't turn around you could see it.

Solution: Woods needs to take control. Bench the veterans when they aren't performing. Aucoin hasn't done anything in 4 games and he took a BAD PENALTY in the last game...bench him a game. Helmer has been performing a little below expectations...take him off the penalty kill.

Stand up to the veterans and become the leader of this team. If Woods can't do it than this team will be hurting at many points during the season.

I do think this team will be fine. I believe they will make the playoffs....probably with ease. But unless they fix these problems they will be hard pressed to win the Cup. And that is the ultimate goal...isn't it.

Please leave your thoughts on this in the comments section or email me your opinions.

Oh (sala) so Close

That was the best period I have seen from the Bears in over a week!

The Phantoms were the only team to show up in the first 2 periods jumping out to a 3-0 lead and just dominating the Bears in every zone.

But then the third period started and something sparked in the Bears. Or at least the rookie line of Osala/Perrault/Bouchard.

They owned the final 10 minutes of regulation last night scoring 3 goals to tie the game. Oskar Osala scored 2 (7,8) and Mathieu Perrault (3) scored the goals and actually had numerous opportunities to win it in regulation but they couldn't quite get it done.

For 50 minutes Jean Sebastien Aubin played exceptionally well in net and the Phantoms played great in their own end but those last 10 minutes were owned by the Bears. The entire team seemed to realize what was happening during the 2nd intermission because everyone was all of a sudden finishing their checks and getting to the loose pucks.

Bobby Goepfert played good enough in goal for the second time in 3 nights and has at least earned the respect of the team and fans even if he does end up back in South Carolina. Although I feel like he should stay and Cheese should go since Cheese hasn't played well YET this season. But that is not likely to happen.

This shows 2 Bears have enough talent that even when they are down they aren't out...and two....the depth of the four lines allows Hershey to be fresher at the end of the game. I think that had A LOT to do with the end of the game last night.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Oskar Osala
  2. David Laliberte
  3. Mathieu Perrault

Grading the Performance:
I am going to change this up for the rest of the season and focus more on the offense/defense instead of particular units.

  • Offense - C+ - With the exception of the third period (and mainly the one line) this was a very pitiful performance. I will give the Phantoms some credit as they blocked a lot of shots but come one. With the offensive weapons this team has they should be able to do more on the score sheet. The MAG line seems to have hit a wall and you have to wonder what it will take to get them going again.
  • Defense - F - With the exception of Alzner no one else seems to know what to do on defense. I thought Collins played good but everyone else, Helmer, Lepisto, Sloan, and Amadio, seemed to struggle. This is becoming a pattern and needs to be fixed. The third period made them look better than they were since the Phantoms figured they had it won and stopped really skating hard.
  • Goaltending - B - 3 goals on 34 shots isn't too bad of a night for a goalie. Goepfert maybe could have stopped another of those shots but it is an improvement over some other performances. I thought he earned his keep in this game.
  • Power Play - F - Still not getting any pressure....maybe its time for a new system or new guys.
  • Penalty Kill - F - Allowed 2 goals on 7 opportunities. It needs to stop something soon.

Overall - C- - With the exception of the third period this was a terrible performance by most of the team. The rookie line really saved their teammates last night by coming up HUGE in the third to get a point and send the game to OT. But it is time for the veterans to step up and earn their keep.

No games til Friday.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bears @ Phantoms Preview

Hershey Bears
record ~ 8-3-0-0 16 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Win @ Albany, 10/31
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 5-1
goals for ~ 50
goals against ~ 39

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 4-5-0-0 8 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-2 Win @ Hershey 11/1
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 1-2
goals for ~ 25
goals against ~ 26

last time teams met - Philly won 5-2 last night in Hershey.

Players to watch:


MAG Line - What has happened to the Mink/Aucoin/Giroux line? They have combined for 3 points in the last 3 games. And that was all on 1 goal against Albany. This line needs to pick up the play NOW.
D Bryan Helmer (20) - He seems to be a step behind everyone on the ice. I personally feel he is responsible for a goal in the Albany game and in the Philly game. He was on the ice for 4 of 5 Philly goals last night including all 3 power play goals.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - Why was he scratched? Move him to wing and let him play. Take Darren Reid and put him on the bench. Joudrey played good but they need Perrault in there. He can create offense and the Bears need it now.


D Danny Syvret (25) - Former Bear Syvret had 2 assists last night to extend his team leading points to 10 points, 4 more than the next Phantom.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - Scored a goal last night against Hershey but also took 2 penalties that were bad penalties. He is a potential game changer though.
LW Boyd Kane (28) - He scored 3 goals in Hershey last night. The former Bears captain is a player of concern for the Bears.

News and Notes:

  • Shaone Morrison was injured last night in the Capitals game and a call up is probably likely. No matter who they take it is not a good time but it will be interesting to see who they call up. Will it be Alzner or Lepisto or is Sloan the man again.
  • Michal Neuvirth will be back in South Carolina early this week. Will the organization try to loan him out now? The goaltending in Washington and Hershey is BAD right now..can he help?
  • Sloan didn't play very well last night either. He was on the ice with Helmer on 3 of those goals. We need more from him.
  • I will have my take on what the Bears problems are and what they need to do to fix them after watching another game this evening. Check in tomorrow or Tuesday for that post.


Another Bad Loss

Hershey didn't seem to know what to do with the Phantoms last night. For a period and a half, maybe even 2 full periods, the Bears played pretty good hockey. They managed the penalty kill well and played better defense.

But then the third period came and they seemingly fell apart. They started rushing shots and making bad passes and stopped focusing on the TEAM game they had played earlier in the season.

They jumped out to a 1-0 lead with Kyle Wilson scoring his first of the season early in the 1st period. Philly tied it up with Boyd Kane's 1st of 3 goals before Jay Beagle added his first of the year midway through the second on a deflection.

After that though it fell apart. Kane added his 2nd 3 minutes later and 3 minutes after that he scored what ended up being the game winner for the Phantoms.

For the second time in 3 games the Bears ran into a goalie that they just couldn't solve. It doesn't help though when your power play fails you yet again, going 0 for 6 in the game.

I believe they are now 0 for about 18 or 19 in their last three games. Not good. Especially for a team that has allowed MORE GOALS THAN ANY OTHER TEAM HAS SCORED through 11 games.

There are many issues that need addressed in the immediate future. But first is the second game of this home and home with Philly. Tonight at the Spectrum the Bears can partially redeem themselves with a W.

My Three Stars of the Game
  1. Boyd Kane
  2. Danny Syvret
  3. Jean-Sebastien Aubin

Grading the Performance:

  • Power Play - F - Easily the worst performance of the season for this unit. They couldn't get set up much in the zone and when they did they made more passes and tried to get too much. They played VERY poorly and the unit I think needs a shake up.
  • Penalty Kill - C+ - Not good but really not as bad as it looks. It shows 3 for 6 for Philly but I thought they did some things that did work, Philly just got the bounces they needed. This unit still needs to get better but I honestly thought they played better than they had been...but that isn't saying too much.
  • Even Strength - C - For the first half of the game they played well. They scored 2 goals and thought they did okay. After that they stopped playing defense. The 2nd goal was a HUGE rebound by Cheese and while that shouldn't happen there is no reason the D can't cover the extra guy coming in.
  • Overall - F - In my opinion this is worse than the Hamilton game because OF the Hamilton game. After getting beaten up earlier in the week you would expect your leaders to take over and NOT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN, especially this soon. But it did and that is bad. Machesney hasn't played well and in my opinion doesn't deserve to get the nod tonight. Goepfert won his game and only allowed 3 goals....put him in and see what he can do.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Phantoms @ Bears Preview

Hershey Bears
record ~ 8-2-0-0 16 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Win @ Albany, 10/31
last 5 games ~ 3-2
home record ~ 3-1
goals for ~ 48
goals against ~ 34

Philadelphia Phantoms
record ~ 3-5-0-0 6 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-4 OT Win @ Norfolk 10/29
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 2-3
goals for ~ 20
goals against ~ 24

last time teams met - Hershey won 5-4 in Philly on 10/17.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17) - He had an assist against Albany but needs to score goals more consistently. He has not been active enough the past 2 games in the offensive zone.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - He has 6 goals and 4 assists through 10 games. He scored a tough goal last night from a bad angle to put the Bears up 2-0. The Bears need more from him.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - He needs more playing time! He has 2 goals and 7 assists but isn't out there enough right now. His line (Bouchard and Osala) should be playing more minutes in my opinion.


D Danny Syvret (25) - Former Bear Syvret is actually leading the Phantoms in points with 2 goals and 6 assists through 8 games.
RW Claude Giroux (19) - One of Philadelphia's top young prospects, he has 2 goals and 2 assists so far this season.
RW Steve Downie (17) - Downie has only played 3 games for the Phantoms this season but is second on the team in points with 6. He has 1 goal and 5 assists including 4 assists last game.


  • Tyler Sloan should be back in the lineup tonight for Hershey after his 4 game stint with the Capitals.
  • This will be the 2nd of 7 games before Christmas for Hershey and Philly.
  • LW Josh Gratton, recently acquired by Philly, could be in the lineup tonight against Hershey.