Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Start

Hershey opened up their 5 game road trip this afternoon in Springfield. It was a good opening game as the Bears earned 2 points in the standings with a 2-0 victory.

Simeon Varlamov made 30 saves to earn his second career shutout while Steve Pinnizzotto (2nd of the season) and Mathieu Perrault (5th) scored for the Bears.

Varly looked very good earning his first shutout since November 7 against Albany. He was always in position and played every angle perfectly. He seemed a little less aggressive this afternoon than usual. He wasn't found out of position on many shots like he can at times.

The one thing Bruce Boudreau had said was that he needed to be a little less active in net to be in Washington permanently. It would seem that Varly is taking that to heart and is working on that cause that's how he played today.

Fortunately for the Bears, Springfield seemed less enthused with the game than the Bears or Hershey probably would have lost. They now have a little time off before heading to Providence for Friday night. Hopefully they can find some motivation so they are ready to go for that game.

Many times today the players seemed to get caught flat footed and standing around which against a good team might have cost them. But the Falcons weren't interested in playing this game so Hershey got away with it.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Simeon Varlamov - many of his 30 saves were very good
  2. Keith Aucoin - he was all over the ice doing everything for the team
  3. Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers - kept his team in this game the whole time

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - C+ - Not the most impressive performance of the season from this group. The group as a whole had opportunities that they wasted because of trying to either make one to many passes or not making a pass. I know that sounds like I expect perfection but some players (Aucoin and Perrault) need to shoot more and stop always looking to make the extra pass and some others (Osala and Wilson) need to look for the open guy a little more.
  • Defense - B+ - Solid. Nothing flashy which is good. A couple of missteps during the game but nothing that isn't forgive able. A couple times I saw defensemen standing in front of Varly instead of getting the player with the puck behind the net. That seemed odd considering there were no players in front of the goal. Nothing major though.
  • Goaltending - A - Many good saves from Varly today. He was in position for every single shot that came at him. His rebound control was also very good. He seemed a bit more focused and determined today.
  • Power Play - B - 1 for 5 isn't bad but they should have had more. They had a 5 on 3 for over a minute and got like 1 shot on net. When you have those opportunities you need to convert more often.
  • Penalty Kill - A - Very good job today. I don't think the Falcons had any even decent look while on the power play. They seemed a little extra aggressive today which wasn't bad today but might be costly some other time.
  • Overall - B - A good game all around but definitely room for improvement. I thought there was a lot of standing around and the Bears escaped with a victory against a team that is struggling right now. The same effort WILL NOT work Friday in Providence.


Bears @ Falcons Preview, 12/31

Hershey Bears
record ~ 23-8-0-1 47 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-3 Win vs Albany, 12/28
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 9-5-0-1
goals for ~ 128
goals against ~86
power play ~ 16.5% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 82.9% (16th)

Springfield Falcons
record ~ 12-16-4-1 29 points
standings ~ Last in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Loss @ Manchester, 12/28
last 5 games ~ 0-4-1-0
home record ~ 7-8-0-0
goals for ~ 81
goals against ~ 106
power play ~ 15.8% (18th)
penalty kill ~ 78.5% (29th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


LW Oskar Osala (36)- Finally got back on the score sheet last game with a goal and an assist.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - 2 goals and 2 assists in the last 2 games. Hopefully he can continue to produce those numbers even while his linemates change.
G Simeon Varlamov (31) - He has been sent up and down from Washington multiple times over the past couple weeks. Is he focused and ready for a road trip?


C Ryan Potulny (17) - Leading the team in points with 27. During the month of December he has played in 10 games and has 6 goals and 5 assists.
LW Rob Schremp (44) - Not a goal scorer, he only has 2 this season, but he gets assists regularly. In 24 games he has at least 1 assist in 16 of them. 66%...not too bad.
G Devan Dubnyk (40) - Really he is their only goaltender. He has appeared in 32 games out of the 33 they have played. He has a 3.07 goals against average and a .901 save percentage.

News and notes:
  • Tyler Sloan was recalled to Washington for Tuesday night's game against Buffalo due to Karl Alzner not being able to go. He is expected back with the Bears this week yet.
  • Both Alexander Giroux and Chris Bourque (or one or the other) could return to the Bears lineup this weekend but not for today's afternoon game.
  • Springfield comes into this game with a 6 game losing streak. Beyond that they have lost 9 of 10 and 14 of 17.

Monday, December 29, 2008

To The Bus!

I didn't see much of the game last night as I was watching the Eagles dismantle the Dallas Cowboys. And since I didn't see much of it I will not try to recap the game.

From what I did see though Neuvirth seemed to be calmed down and played much better in his second game with Hershey. Hopefully he can build on these games and be ready for next season when he WILL be a Bear.

Hershey now gets to travel around the northeast. Starting Wednesday afternoon (special 1:00 start time) they play 5 road games in 8 days. Tough stretch.

The trip starts against Springfield Wednesday afternoon. The Falcons aren't very good and are in last in the Atlantic division.

The second stop is in Providence on Friday, January 2. The Bruins are good this year and are currently leading the Atlantic division.

The third stop is the next night (Jan 3) in Hartford to play the Wolf Pack. The Pack are pretty good and are in third in the Atlantic division.

The fourth stop is the next evening (Jan 4) in Worcester. The Sharks are in 5th in the Atlantic division currently. Former NHLer Claude Lemieux is on the Sharks roster.

The fifth and final stop is Wednesday, January 7 in Norfolk. The Admirals are playing good right now with a 4 game winning streak but are 6th in the East division.

As a fan I would love to see and hope to see the Bears win all 5 games which they are absolutely capable of doing. But as someone who is also a realist I would say that if Hershey comes out of this stretch with 3 victories it would have to be looked at positively. That is a lot of travel over an 8 day period.

If they don't come home after the Worcester game and go straight to Norfolk they will travel about 1400 miles by the time they get back to Hershey. The only advantage is that the first 4 games on the trip are all within about 90 minutes of each other so the team might just find a hotel in the middle and stay there for the weekend.

But still a 5 game road trip over 8 days is tough.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Rats @ Bears Preview, 12/28

Hershey Bears
record ~ 22-8-0-1 45 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Loss vs Binghamton, 12/27
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 13-3-0-0
goals for ~ 119
goals against ~77
power play ~ 16.2% (17th)
penalty kill ~ 82.9% (16th)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 11-15-3-2 27 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win vs Rochester, 12/27
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 4-10-0-1
goals for ~ 78
goals against ~ 98
power play ~ 15.2% (20th)
penalty kill ~ 84.1% (10th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in OT on November 28th in Albany.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- He had a goal last night and played a very good offensive game but he needs to do more. Mink and Bourque need to score and Coiner needs to get them the puck.
Rookie Line (36,24,22) - This line was doing so very well a while back but so far in December they have totaled 1 goal and 3 assists in December. They need to do more.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - He has carried the Bears this month with 4 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. He is going to need to continue this for a while longer it looks like.


LW Michael Ryan (21) - Tied for the team lead in goals with 9 and second on the team with 18 points. He has been the most consistent point producer with 18 points in 22 games.
RW Jakub Petruzalek (16) - Team leader with 20 points (8 g, 12 a) this season. He has produced a goal and an assist in the 3 games against Hershey this season.
C Dwight Helminen (11) - Third on the team in points with 15 (9 g, 6 a). He had 2 goals last night and this is only his second game against Hershey this season.

News and Notes:
  • Hershey has NOT scored more than 3 goals against Albany yet this season.
  • 2 of the games went to overtime...1 ended in a shootout the other about 2 minutes into OT.
  • Both overtime games came against Jason Peters in goal while Daniel Manzato recorded the 3-0 loss.
  • This is Albany's first trip to Hershey this season. These teams will play 2 more times in Hershey before the 15th of January. And there are no games after that between the teams.

Bingo Stops the Streak

Brian Elliott played an incredible game in goal for the Sens last night as he made 43 saves in a 4-1 Bingo victory. The victory stopped Hershey's home win streak at short of tying the team record of 11.

Sure many of the shots were easy saves but a lot of them were the result of very sound positioning and anticipation. He also got lucky as Hershey hit the post a couple times and missed an open net a couple other times.

At the other end rookie Michal Neuvirth had a rough AHL debut giving up 4 goals on 24 shots. Not a terrible night for him though. I thought he made many good saves and had a questionable goal or two. Not a bad performance against a very good Binghamton team.

The officiating was less than stellar although not as bad as some people think. Nygel's game earlier this season was absolutely worse than Banfield's last night.

A lot of people are getting on Neuvirth because he didn't play as well as Varly....well Varly struggled in his first couple games too. The difference.....the offense gave him support. If Hershey scores 3 goals this game probably goes to overtime cause Fata never would have added his goal. But they didn't and everyone wants to jump on the rookie cause he didn't win the game.

Remember this....goalies CAN win games for you....BUT usually a goalie is there to KEEP A TEAM IN A GAME....which I think Neuvirth did. But Elliott was hot and WON this game for the Sens.

My Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Brian Elliott - wow....a very good performance with 43 saves
  2. Derek Smith - a goal and an assist from the defenseman
  3. Greg Amadio - numerous blocked shots kept Hershey in the game for a while

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - F - I know they got their shots but when you have a rookie in net you HAVE to get the goals. Elliott played very well but there didn't seem to be anyone around the goal the entire night. Hershey had very good pressure but they HAVE to find a way to score in a game like this.
  • Defense - B- - Not terrible but DEFINITE room for improvement. The last goal scored was the result of the Bears pushing up trying to get a goal. For most of the night the defense was in position and played a solid physical game. No one stood out and that is good on the defensive end.
  • Goaltending - B- - I am not going to say Neuvirth played great but he didn't play that bad. There was a questionable goal or two but he also made some very good saves. For a first game in the A I would say he played well.
  • Power Play - C - Tons of pressure and lots of shots on the power play last night. This unit played well but they need to score, ESPECIALLY in a game like this one, the power play has to help the defense.
  • Penalty Kill - A - They killed off 2 CONSECUTIVE LENGTHY 5 on 3 power plays from Bingo. Ammo and Joudrey are penalty killing machines!
  • Overall - C - They ran into a hot goaltender and a questionable official. What are you gonna do? Sometimes you have these games. Remember....when you are the best you get everyones best too! And if you have an off night you might be in trouble from time to time.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all the Hershey Bears fans out there....

Enjoy the holiday!

Maybe Santa will bring us a healthy Caps roster this year!!


Monday, December 22, 2008

10 In A Row At Home!

Last night's win in Hershey leaves the Bears one home win short of the franchise record. Having already broken the longest regular season win streak this year with 11 wins this team can now tie and set another record. Next weekend the Bears play Binghamton and Albany at home, if they win both games they will set the consecutive home victories record.

Good Job Hershey!

Last night's game was a little touch and go for the first period or so. I thought the team was chasing the puck and skating without direction for the first period.

But in the third period I thought they outright DOMINATED the Monsters. The only reason Lake Erie was still in the game was because of their goalie Jason Bacashihua who made 42 saves to earn 2nd star honors.

Hershey trailed twice in this game and came back both times to force overtime where they had numerous opportunities but couldn't convert. The shootout favored the Bears last night as Varly stopped 4 of 5 while Bourque and Gordon scored against Bacashihua to get the W for the Bears.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Jason Bacashihua - even though he lost he managed to get his team a point
  2. Kyle Wilson - a goal and an assist, both of which were very important
  3. Simeon Varlamov - many good saves during the game and then an amazing shootout

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B+ - The only reason this group doesn't get an A is because they couldn't solve the goaltender. They did everything right and got plenty of shots but only got 2 by the goalie. Still a very good performance. The teams depth is really showing lately while the BAG line and the rookie line are struggling.
  • Defense - B - A solid game. Lots of good hits and generally kept pucks and players away from Varly. But there was obviously room for improvement too. Some miscommunication on changes and who is going for the puck cost them a goal and almost more.
  • Goaltending - B+ - Another very good game for Varly this season. That was a big game being that it was his first since getting reassigned and he was surely disappointed in not staying the Caps. Way to show up and perform without pouting.
  • Power Play - B - There were only 4 penalties called (3 on Lake Erie) so the power play didn't have a ton of chances but they made the most of them getting 1 goal on the 3 attempts. It was their first power play goal in December.
  • Penalty Kill - ? - They only had to kill off 1 penalty and they did. But not enough to give a grade.
  • Overall - B - Honestly I think they should have won by 4 goals. This team is NOT at the same talent level as Hershey and after last weekend I expected the Bears to really come out swinging this weekend and they didn't seem to do that. But a win is a win and they got 2 this weekend.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bears vs Monsters Preview, 12/21

Hershey Bears
record ~ 21-7-0-1 43 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Win vs Lowell, 12/20
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 12-2-0-0
goals for ~ 119
goals against ~77
power play ~ 16.4% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 82.4% (16th)

Lake Erie Monsters
record ~ 11-12-1-4 27 points
standings ~ 6th in North Division
most recent game ~ 4-0 Win @ Syracuse, 12/20
last 5 games ~ 2-1-0-2
road record ~ 3-6-0-2
goals for ~ 73
goals against ~ 82
power play ~ 15.2% (20th)
penalty kill ~ 82.1% (19th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


C Kyle Wilson (18)- 2 goals in last nights game and 1 goal in the previous game gives him 12 goals on the season. His line was very good last night.
RW Graham Mink (21) - Scored 11 seconds into the game last night. Hopefully it jump starts his season from here on in. He claims to be a better after holiday player.
C Mathieu Perrault (24) - After having a nice 7 game point streak last month he has cooled off with only 2 assists in his last 7 games.

Lake Erie:

LW Chris Durno (25) - Leading the Monsters with 19 points this season he has been playing well of late with 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games.
C Marty Sertich (15) - Second on the team in points (with 16) he has also been hot of late with 2 goals and 6 assists in the last 6 games, including 2 goals last night.
G Jason Bacashihua - Having a tough season in the net so far with a 3-8-2 record. His goals against 3.29 (41 out of 48 in league) while his save percentage is .895 (34th) aren't much better.

News and Notes:
  • Surprise surprise another Capital left yesterdays game injured. Tom Poti left with what is assumed to be a strained groin.
  • Kip Brennan is unable to play due to immigration paper problems. He probably won't play until after Christmas sometime.
  • Simeon Varlamov should be getting the start in goal today after being reassigned on Friday. He is 11th in save percentage and 2nd in goals against in the league.
  • Tyler Weiman is the better goalie for Lake Erie. If he plays his record is 8-5-2 and his numbers are better with 2.34 goals against (8th) and .920 save percentage (7th). Weiman played last night and Lake Erie hasn't been playing goaltenders back to back often this season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bears vs Devils Preview, 12/20

Hershey Bears
record ~ 20-7-0-1 41 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-1 Loss @ Houston, 12/14
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 11-2-0-0
goals for ~ 115
goals against ~75
power play ~ 17.1% (15th)
penalty kill ~ 81.9% (20th)

Lowell Devils
record ~ 11-12-1-3 26 points
standings ~ Last in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 5-2 Loss @ Philadelphia, 12/19
last 5 games ~ 0-4-0-1
road record ~ 6-5-1-1
goals for ~ 75
goals against ~ 85
power play ~ 13.8% (25th)
penalty kill ~ 81.3% (27th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


LW Oskar Osala (36)- After missing the last 2 games due to a call up to Washington the Bears are excited to have his goal scoring back in the lineup.
RW Graham Mink (21) - He needs to get going again...he only has 1 point in his last 5 games. With Giroux still up and playing today Mink needs to help out the offense again.
LW Kip Brennan (39) - Just signed after leaving his team in Finland he gets to play his first game back in Hershey tonight.


RW Jon DiSalvatore (14) - Leading the Devils with 21 points on the season but he is in a slump right now with only 2 points in his last 9 games.
LW Alexander Vasyunov (9) - Leading the Devils with 8 goals on the season. He has no goals in the last 5 games which happen to be all losses.
LW Chad Wiseman (15) - The former Bear has 7 goals and 8 assists on the season. But like the rest of the team he is in a slump and has no points in 5 straight.

News and Notes:
  • With the postponement of the game last night Simeon Varlamov will more than likely get the start in net tonight.
  • Giroux remains in Washington and will play today against Philadelphia. Due to the roster freeze he and Sean Collins will remain in Washinton until at least the 27th.
  • Lowell has lost 5 straight games and there aren't many goals being scored for this team right now, especially by their better players.
  • When Lowell scores more than 3 goals they have only lost once this season. It seems that 4 goals for them is their magic number.
  • The Bears currently have a 7 game win streak at home.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pens Game Postponed

The Bears vs Wilkes Barre Penguins game scheduled for tonight in Wilkes Barre has been postponed until January 11th.

Bears @ Penguins Preview, 12/19

Hershey Bears
record ~ 20-7-0-1 41 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-1 Loss @ Houston, 12/14
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 9-5-0-1
goals for ~ 115
goals against ~75
power play ~ 17.1% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 81.9% (19th)

Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins
record ~ 16-11-1-1 34 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Loss @ Philadelphia, 12/14
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 7-4-0-1
goals for ~ 99
goals against ~ 83
power play ~ 14.8% (24th)
penalty kill ~ 87.2% (2nd)

last time teams met - Wilkes Barre won 4-3 in WB/S on November 8.

Players to watch:


LW Oskar Osala (36)- After missing the last 2 games due to a call up to Washington the Bears are excited to have his goal scoring back in the lineup.
RW Graham Mink (21) - In the first game of the year against the Pens he had 3 goals. He needs to get going again...he only has 1 point in his last 5 games.
LW Kip Brennan (39) - Just signed after leaving his team in Finland this enforcer could come in handy against the hated Pens who are 5th in the league in penalty minutes.

Wilkes Barre:

LW Chris Minard (14) - On the season he has 19 goals and 13 assists...including 3 goals in the last 2 games. Against Hershey he has 2 goals and 3 assists in 3 games this year.
C Connor James (9) - With Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stone both up in the NHL the Pens need James to step in and produce from the center position. 10 goals and 7 assists on the year so far.
LW Luca Caputi (19) - The rookie is on a tear as of late. In his last 10 games he has 5 goals and 6 assists.

News and Notes:
  • Simeon Varlamov remains on recall with the Capitals so Bobby Goepfert remains in Hershey and will start against the Pens if Varly does not come back in time.
  • Alexander Giroux could return to the lineup for this game but that is not confirmed or even rumored at this point.
  • Dean Arsene is expected to play after missing the last month and a half. His last game was October 29th in Hamilton.
  • Jay Beagle will not play this weekend after suffering a setback in his attempt to return from a concussion.
  • The NHL is putting a roster freeze into effect that begins on the 19th and will continue until the 27th. If Varly, Collins, and Giroux (and Sloan and Alzner) are not returned tomorrow they will not be back until after Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brennan Returns

Kip Brennan is again a Hershey Bear. Brennan began the season in Finland but was pretty much looking for the right situation here in the States to resume his career. Apparently he found it here in Hershey.

Brennan said that if the situation wasn't right he would have stayed in Finland and continued to play there but he wanted to be back in Hershey.

He was technically signed a couple days ago but had to clear waivers which he did at 10:45 this morning to officially become a Bear once again.

Why would the Bears bring back Kipper? Check this out:

He is an accomplished fighter and with Grant McNeill out for a little while longer the Bears felt they could use a guy that can take on any and all comers.

Brennan has played in 268 AHL games and 61 NHL games. In just the AHL he has amassed 1,357 penalty minutes. Many of them for dropping the gloves.

Other News:
  • Congratulations to Daren Machesney who was named to the Team Canada for the 2008 Spengler Cup tournament to be played in Sweden from Christmas to New Years. The only bad news there is that Cheese will miss at least 3 games while he is in Sweden. But this is an honor for him as the Spengler Cup is the second oldest hockey tournament in the world!
  • Maxime Lacroix and Viktor Dovgan were reassigned to South Carolina today to make room for players returning from Washington and for Brennan.
  • Dean Arsene practiced again this morning and is hoping to play this weekend.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Texas is no place for Bears

Well I am sure the Bears are happy to be on their way back from Texas today. They lost 3-0 on Thursday night and then rebounded (or failed to rebound) with a 6-1 loss suffered at the hands of the Houston Aeros last night.

Daren Machesney played solidly in goal until halfway through the 2nd period when the flood gates opened and Houston scored 5 goals in the period on 15 shots.

The defense wasn't exactly strong (or even decent) in front of Cheese. They routinely let open guys get shots from great locations on the ice and those players converted. Krys Kolanos did the most damage with 2 goals and an assist on the night.

Bobby Goepfert came in for Cheese in the 3rd period and stopped all 13 shots he faced. It appears all hell broke loose late in the period as there were 42 penalty minutes handed out over the final 9 minutes of the game including a couple fights and a misconduct period to Aucoin for abuse of officials.

And to add insult to injury (or injury to insult if you will) 3 players left the Capitals game against Montreal with injuries last night. Tyler Sloan, Sergei Federov, and Nicklas Backstrom all went out with injuries. Backstrom was suffering from a migraine headache but there is no word on the other two. Sean Collins was already on recall in case of a defenseman not being able to go so he will probably stay for Sloan if Sloaner can't go on Tuesday. Federov is the biggest concern because he missed so much time already due to an ankle injury. If he can't go Keith Aucoin will probably be recalled again or Oskar Osala might head back up. Either way it isn't good for the Bears. Hopefully Nicky's headache was just a headache and not a concussion symptom.

The good news for Hershey is Dean Arsene and Jay Beagle are expected back in the lineup next weekend. If the team loses a d-man and a center at least there are other players to jump in now.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Barry Brust - made 29 of 30 shots and really kept the Aeros in the game for the 1st period
  2. Krys Kolanos - 2 goals (including the game winner) and an assist
  3. Corey Locke - 1 goal and an assist and many other opportunities

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - Not bad actually. They just didn't get anything by Brust who is on a 6 game winning streak now. Many good opportunities in the first period and a half. After that it was a lost cause and the team played like it was.
  • Defense - F - They were okay for the first period and then they just had a MASSIVE letdown. On many of the goals they weren't around at all. There were players open all around the goaltender all night and it shows up on the scoresheet.
  • Goaltending - D - Like I said above, he had a good first period and a half. But then the whole team (including Cheese) stopped playing. Goepfert was solid in the third period though.
  • Power Play - F - 6 opportunities and no goals means a bad performance. They had a tough time getting set up in the zone and didn't get any really good looks all night. They need to score more.
  • Penalty Kill - F - They allowed goals on 25% of the Aeros chances. And they were allowing Aero players to stand around uncovered near the goal. Not good.
  • Overall - F - If I was grading the first period I honestly would give them an A. The first period was great, they played physical and fast. And then the second period came and Houston took over the game.

News and notes:
  • Simeon Varlamov won his first NHL game in his first NHL start last night in Montreal.
  • More news on the injuries will probably come Monday.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Bears @ Houston Preview, 11/13

Hershey Bears
record ~ 20-6-0-1 41 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss @ San Antonio, 12/11
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 9-4-0-1
goals for ~ 114
goals against ~69
power play ~ 17.7% (13th)
penalty kill ~ 82.2% (18th)

Houston Aeros
record ~ 12-10-1-3 28 points
standings ~ 6th in West Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Quad City, 12/11
last 5 games ~ 2-1-0-2
home record ~ 8-4-1-3
goals for ~ 71
goals against ~ 69
power play ~ 16.8% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 85.5% (6th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


RW Graham Mink (21)- He has not been scoring as much lately and he needs to show that the beginning of the season wasn't a fluke.
C Mathieu Perreault (24) - Can he contribute like he was without Osala in the lineup? He needs to show everyone something if he intends to further his career.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - He only has 3 goals in his last 16 games. He needs to pick up the pace if he intends to set a new personal record for goals. Although he is getting many more assists this season.


LW Corey Locke (84) - A familiar face from his days in Hamilton the past few seasons he is leading the team in points with 28 (9 g, 19 a). 4 goals and 4 assists in last 4 games.
LW Krys Kolanos (32) - He has 4 goals and 4 assists in his last 6 games. He is the team leader in goals with 13 in only 17 games.
D Maxim Noreau (26) - Tied for second on the team in goals with 9 he has 4 in the last 5 games. 7 of his 9 goals have come on the power play.

News and Notes:
  • Former Bear G Nolan Schaefer plays for Houston. He played 3 games during the 06-07 season for the Bears. He is 6-8 with a 2.58 gaa and a .908 save percentage this season.
  • Oskar Osala and Alexandre Giroux remain in Washington but could be back for next weekend's games.
  • Dean Arsene and Jay Beagle are expected back when Hershey play Wilkes Barre on the 19th.
  • For the first time in a while the Bears had a healthy scratch the other night in San Antonio, Viktor Dovgan sat for Hershey.
  • Expect Daren Machesney to draw the start for this game.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Varly to Washington

According to Tarik....

Simeon Varlamov is en route to Washington as I type this. Jose Theodore is injured and will not be able to be even the backup tonight for the Caps. Varly is expected to be on the bench by the 2nd period to serve as the backup for the less than 100% Brent Johnson tonight.

Who is going to be the backup until Varly gets there? Caps Web producer Brett Leonhardt will serve as the backup. He regularly attends and participates in practices when a goalie needs a break for a day. The Caps have gotten special permission to use him as the backup until Varly gets there.

There is no word yet on who is going to be the Hershey backup tomorrow night but all indications point to Michal Neuvirth heading to Houston. He may be on his way now for all anyone knows.

Also Oskar Osala and Sean Collins have been reassigned from Washington. They will NOT be heading to Houston tonight as they will probably hang out until after the game to see if the Caps need them to head to Montreal for Saturday. I wouldn't expect them to return to the Bears until after Hershey returns from Houston. There really isn't any reason to fly them down to Houston for 1 game when there are already enough players.

Any more news and I will put it up here.

Streak Ends at the Alamo

Well the Bears went to Texas for the first time ever during the regular season and so far they don't like playing there.

San Antonio, which has won 5 in a row, shut out the Bears 3-0 behind a very impressive 41 save effort from goaltender Josh Tordjman. He was nothing short of spectacular last night.

The Bears were playing without the AHL's leading goal scorer and the AHL's third leading goal scorer in Alexandre Giroux and Oskar Osala. Those two players have accounted for almost 30% of Hershey's goals this season and with both of them on recall to Washington it showed a little bit.

No team can go through a season playing the way Hershey has been playing in the previous 11 games. And as the best team in the league you are going to get every other teams best games. Everyone wants to knock you off.

Hershey ran into a hot goaltender and a hot team last night in San Antonio and couldn't solve the problems. The ice didn't look very good and I am sure that affected the Bears offensively because they couldn't get clean passes and the puck was bouncing around. But that is the way it is sometimes and you have to be able to overcome it.

2 of San Antonio's goals came in the first 2 minutes of the 3rd period when the ice was new and good. Hershey just didn't show any urgency until after they were done 2 goals but it was too late. The Rampage played good enough in their own end and Tordjman played great in the third period to win last night.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Josh Tordjman - won the game for the Rampage by keeping the Hershey O off the scoresheet
  2. Derek Nesbitt - not the game winner but his goal to make it 3-0 ended Hershey's chances
  3. Chad Kolarik - he did have the game winner on a decent shot that Varly probably should have had

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - C - Not sure what really happened in this game to the offense. They got 41 shots but I would say 3/4 of them were easy saves for Tordjman. A lot of trouble getting set up in the zone and the ice definitely impacted some breakaways when the puck jumped over some sticks.
  • Defense - B - I didn't think this unit played terrible. Actually I think they might have been the best unit on the ice. The first goal was a good shot and a questionable play by Varly, the second was on a deflection, and the third on the penalty kill. Not great but not a bad performance.
  • Goaltending - C - Varly made 32 saves but gave up MANY rebounds. I think half the shots he stopped came back out as big rebounds but luckily the defense was there to clear the puck. Not a terrible game but not up to the standards that he has set for himself.
  • Power Play - F - 6 opportunities but no goals. I can't remember a power play where the Bears got set up in the offensive zone.
  • Penalty Kill - B - Unspectacular which is not a bad thing for a penalty kill. They seemed to be chasing a lot more than usual but killed off 4 of 5 chances.
  • Overall - C - It wasn't a good game by the Bears and it showed. 3-0 is not how this team wants to play obviously. The absences of Giroux and Osala should make a difference but I don't think it should make THAT MUCH of one. Some other guys have to step up.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bears @ Rampage Preview, 12/11

Hershey Bears
record ~ 20-5-0-1 41 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Win vs Norfolk, 12/7
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 9-3-0-1
goals for ~ 114
goals against ~66
power play ~ 18.4% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 82.3% (16th)

San Antonio Rampage
record ~ 6-20-0-1 13 points
standings ~ Last in West Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win vs Rochester, 12/9
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 6-11-0-0
goals for ~ 55
goals against ~ 97
power play ~ 11.5% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 83.4% (13th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season.

Players to watch:


RW Graham Min (21)- He is 3rd on the team in goals (12) and points (25). In his last 7 games he has 5 goals and 6 assists but only 1 goal in the last 3 games.
C Mathieu Perreault (24) - He is one of the true young stars on this team but in his last 4 games he only has 2 assists. And it appears Oskar Osala did NOT make the trip to Texas which could hurt his numbers more.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - He has 9 goals and 10 assists on the season but none of those goals have come in the last 7 games.

San Antonio:

LW Brett MacLean (19) - 3rd on the team in points with 8 goals and 7 assists in 27 games this season. He is the ONLY player on the roster who has played in more than 5 games who has a + rating. (he is a +2)
LW Jeff Hoggan (39) - 6 goals and 1 assist in his last 7 games. He leads the team in goals with 9 in 27 games. He is second WORST on the team with a -18 rating but is +4 over the last 6 games.
D Matt (S.) Jones (5) - He is not an offensive force and is apparently not a defensive force either. He is a remarkable -24 through 27 games this season. He has only had a + rating in 5 of his 27 games.

News and Notes:
  • Oskar Osala stayed behind and was called up by the Washington Capitals Wednesday.
  • Keith Aucoin and Bryan Helmer are on the trip and should play for the Bears this weekend.
  • Tyler Sloan, Alexandre Giroux, Sean Collins, and Karl Alzner remain on recall to Washington.
  • Johann Kroll was sent back down to South Carolina yesterday.
  • The Rampage has won 4 straight games after losing 21 of their first 23.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TSN Prospect report

I found this article thanks to the Capitals Insider blog from Tarik and company. It talks about the Capitals prospects and gives their opinions on the top 12 prospects in the system.

Read the article here.

Surprisingly (to me at least) are two different things in the article. One thing is that Francois Bouchard is actually ranked ahead of Oskar Osala which surprises me a little considering the year Oskar is having. But Bouchard is playing very well too and apparently TSN feels he is a better prospect that the big O.

The other thing that surprised me was that Mathieu Perrault is not even listed in their top 12. I guess it is his size (5'9" 166lbs) that is scaring people off because it can't be his play. I would think that with players like Martin St. Louis (5'9" 180lbs) and Patrick Kane (5'9" 160lbs) having great success in the NHL that they would overlook his physical stats. I personally think he might be the most talented offensive player on Hershey's roster right now (Aucoin is up with the Caps). He isn't a pure goal scorer but isn't really supposed to be as a center. But he can pass and set up plays to anyone at anytime and he never stops hustling. His stats in juniors are better than Bouchards (which are referenced in the article).

Perrault (3 years in the Q) ---- 235 gp --- 112 g --- 230 a ---- 342 points
Bouchard (4 years in the Q) --- 285 gp --- 135 g --- 231 a ---- 366 points

Bouchard has more goals and points but he also has 50 more games than Perrault. And if you look at their stats Perrualt's teams all had long runs in the playoffs. Now I don't know these teams that well but I would think that that would show that he is a winner wherever he goes.

But anyways....check out the article and tell me what you think.

Most stats that I use on this site are from It is a very useful site with every player you can think of.

A New Record!

Last night in Hershey the Bears set a new franchise record for consecutive wins in the regular season with 11. That's right the Bears, without most of their original defense and the 2 of their leading scorers, have managed to win 11 consecutive games this season. This coming after they had lost 5 of 7 in early November.

The streak started with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on November 14. And since then they have won 2 more on the road and 8 at home by a combined score of 54-15! That includes 2 games where Hershey won 9-0. 54 goals in 11 games is ridiculous. It is almost 5 goals a game. 5 GOALS A GAME!!!

Some other impressive numbers, and these show how good the goalies have been, are 3 shutouts in those 11 games, only ONCE have the Bears allowed more than 2 goals during the streak, and the Bears goalies have awesome numbers during the streak.

Daren Machesney---- .250 gaa ---- .989 save %
Simeon Varlamov ---- 2.00 gaa ---- .925 save %

UNBELIEVABLE....and yes that is right, Cheese has played in 4 games during this streak and has given up 1 goal and has 3 shutouts. And Varlie has played in all 3 road games during the streak and has allowed only 6 goals on the road!

Amazing streak and hopefully it continues in Texas this weekend.

Onto last nights game:

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Daren Machesney - 30 saves against a very good offensive team
  2. Steve Pinnizzotto - a goal and a fight (an impressive fight)
  3. Greg Amadio - 2 assists and a solid night on the blue line for the defensive leader

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - Still having some trouble getting out of their own end and into the offensive zone. Some of that is to be expected but they to adapt and get it done more effectively. There really weren't a ton of offensive chances but there were enough for a 3-0 win.
  • Defense - A - Another shutout for Hershey and the rag tag group of defensemen should be proud of how they played last night. Norfolk is a very good offensive team and the Bears defense shut them down almost all night.
  • Goaltending - A - And when they didn't shut down the defense Cheese came up huge for them. 30 saves on 30 shots is impressive. 4-0 during the 11 game win streak with 3 shutouts. Impressive!
  • Power Play - C - The weak link right now this unit is missing Sami Lepisto and Keith Aucoin terribly. 0 for 4 last night makes them 1 for 15 in their last 3 games.
  • Penalty Kill - A - Again they stepped up and killed off 6 opportunities for Norfolk. This was considered the weak link for the first month of the season but now they are possibly the best. They have not allowed a power play goal in 4 games on 18 chances.
  • Overall - B - A solid game again but the offense is struggling to find the net lately. Missing your key defensemen is more of a strain on the offense than most would think it is. Lepisto and Bryan Helmer were critical parts of getting the puck moving the offensive zone and them being gone is hurting right now. But the Bears find a way to win as they have won 11 straight now!


Sunday, December 7, 2008


There were 2 roster moves of note today..

Alexandre Giroux was recalled by Washington this morning to fill in for a questionable Eric Fehr. That call up gives the Capitals the leading point producer and the 2nd leading point producer in the AHL (Aucoin has 36 and Giroux has 30) and the leading goal scorer with Giroux's 18 leading the AHL.

In other news Josh Godfrey is questionable tonight for Hershey so the Bears recalled Viktor Dovgan from South Carolina.

Norfolk @ Bears Preview, 12/7

Hershey Bears
record ~ 19-5-0-1 39 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Win vs Hartford, 12/6
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
home record ~ 10-2-0-0
goals for ~ 111
goals against ~66
power play ~ 18.8% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 81.6% (21st)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 8-13-1-4 21 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-3 Win @ Bridgeport, 12/6
last 5 games ~ 2-2-1-0
road record ~ 4-9-1-2
goals for ~ 82
goals against ~ 105
power play ~ 21.5% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 78.4% (26th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in Hershey on November 30.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10)- He had 2 assists last night which gives him 9 goals and 10 assists on the season. With Aucoin gone and Minker probably leaving he needs to step up and score some.
C Mathieu Perreault (24) - Consistency is his game apparently. In 23 games he has a point in 17 of them. He has an assist in 9 of the last 10 games.
LW Chris Bourque (17) - In the last 9 games he has 2 goals and 9 assists. Hershey needs him to continue his consistent play.


RW Grant Potulny (12) - Last night he had a goal and 2 assists. In 7 games with Norfolk he has 3 goals and 4 assists, including a goal last Sunday against the Bears.
RW Brandon Bochenski (27) - He had 2 goals last night and has 6 goals and 6 assists in his last 7 games. Those give him 11 goals and 12 assists on the season.
C Zenon Konopka (28) - 7 goals and 14 assists on the season includes 3 assists in last nights game.

News and Notes:
  • No word yet on any recalls to Washington....check back or check the forum for updates later this morning.


10 In A Row

10 in a row ties a regular season record for the Hershey Bears. I believe the overall record for longest streak is 14 games which included 12 in a row in the playoffs. Even still the record for a team this beat up with call ups and injuries deserves a ton of credit.

Last night the defensive roster looked like this, Johann Kroll (previous AHL experience = 4 games), Patrick Wellar (49 games), Josh Godfrey (9 games), Sasha Pokulok (49 games), Patrick McNeill (64 games), and Greg Amadio (231 games). Missing from the defensive lineup is Tyler Sloan, Bryan Helmer, Sami Lepisto, Karl Alzner, Sean Collins, and Dean Arsene is out with injury. Combined those 5 players and they have 1687 games on AHL experience under their belts. That is 1687 to 406 games of AHL experience between last nights roster compared to the opening night roster. That's a lot of games.

The defense did have some problems last night. A couple players had trouble getting the puck out their end and there were some missed assignments and missed passes. But all in all considering the patchwork defense that was put together they played very well.

They got some help from goaltender Simeon Varlamov who made 26 saves, many of them of the spectacular variety. The young Russian goalie covered up for any defensive miscues to win his 10th game of the season and 7th in a row.

The offense also stepped up a bit and managed to score 4 times against a solid effort from goalie Matt Zaba of Hartford. Maxime Lacroix (1st of the year), Francois Bouchard (8th), Patrick McNeill (1st), and Alexandre Giroux (18th) all scored for Hershey in their 4-2 win over the Wolf Pack last night in Hershey.

It was a full team effort. No one group out played another last night and it showed that this team is a team and they don't need their best players on the ice to beat anyone.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Andrew Gordon - 2 assists and exceptional defensive zone play
  2. Simeon Varlamov - 26 great saves to save his young inexperienced defense
  3. Chris Bourque - filled in well for Aucoin and played well in his role at a position he hasn't played at recently

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense - B - There were plenty of chances for the offense to score and they converted on 4 of them. But there were lots of chances left on the ice too. The Bears seemed to have trouble setting up in the zone regularly and needed breakaways to score 3 of the 4 goals.
  • Defense - C + - Many miscues almost cost the team some goals but didn't. A solid performance from the unit as a whole but some almost costly mistakes from some individuals. Patty McNeill might have had his worst game this season in his own end with multiple turnovers.
  • Goaltending - A - An excellent game from the young Russian in net. He saved his defensemen on multiple occasions. He continues to impress and prove that he is the number 1 goaltender on this team.
  • Power Play - C+ - 7 chances, no goals. The units had trouble getting pucks on net while on the power play. They managed to get set up but couldn't get much on goal.
  • Penalty Kill - A - A great game from this unit. 4 opportunities including a major and a 5 on 3 and they didn't allow a goal. Excellent job by the forwards on the PK units.
  • Overall - B - A win is a win and that is all that matters but they better improve their play in their own zone if they want to extend this streak past 10 games.

News and Notes:
  • Eric Fehr was injured in last night's Capitals game and is listed as day to day. He may not play tonight which means a right wing, likely Minker, will be called up today.
  • Amadio took a puck to the head while blocking a shot last night but did not miss much time on the ice.
  • Karl Alzner scored his first NHL goal last night in Toronto.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Another Recall

Just saw it on Tarik's blog. Sean Collins has been recalled to Washington as Tyler Sloan is expected to miss tonight's game. Sloaner apparently took a shot of the foot recently and is not 100%.

That is why Kroll was recalled to Hershey yesterday.

Congrats to Sean Collins, he has been playing very well this season. But I wish we still had him in Hershey.

That makes 5 Bears on the Capitals defensive roster this weekend. 4 of them will play but that means that here in Hershey...only Patty McNeill and Greg Amadio are left from the main group of defensemen. That's a lot of players missing.


Hartford @ Bears Preview, 12/6

Hershey Bears
record ~ 18-5-0-1 37 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win vs Norfolk, 12/1
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
home record ~ 9-2-0-0
goals for ~ 107
goals against ~64
power play ~ 19.7% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 81.0% (23rd)

Hartford Wolf Pack
record ~ 10-9-1-2 23 points
standings ~ 5th in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 OT Win @ Bridgeport, 12/3
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 3-5-1-1
goals for ~ 62
goals against ~ 66
power play ~ 15.7% (17th)
penalty kill ~ 78.9% (25th)

last time teams met - This is the first meeting this season. Last season the Bears won in Hartford and the Wolf Pack won in Hershey.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17)- He is probably going to be playing center on the number 1 line since Keith Aucoin probably won't be back for this weekends games. He needs to do a good job in faceoffs and get the puck to Minker and Giroux.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - He needs to keep up the scoring now that we have moved into another month. With Coiner up in Washington the Bears need other players to step up.
D Greg Amadio (32) - With the defensive players still up with the Caps, Amadio needs to have a solid weekend. It could be a while before Alzner, Lepisto, or Sloan come back.


RW Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (17) - Leading the team in points and goals with 11 goals and 11 assists in 22 games this season. A bit of a slump lately now though as he only has 1 goal in the last 4 games.
C Artem Anisimov (42) - 2nd on the team in points and goals with 8 goals and 12 assists in 22 games. He has 6 goals in the last 7 games.
LW Patrick Rissmiller (18) - He has only played 7 games this season for the Pack but he has 8 assists in those games.

News and Notes:
  • After being reassigned to Reading earlier this week Patrick Wellar will be back in Hershey for this weekend. No defensemen are expected to return to Hershey before next week.
  • Keith Aucoin is likely to be in Washington for the weekend as well.
  • When Coiner went up, Minker came back.
  • Johann Kroll was called up from South Carolina yesterday, fueling speculation that another defenseman could get called up to Washington.