Sunday, January 27, 2008

What A Game!!!

I was in Hershey last night to see the Bears play host to the Binghamton Senators. And what a game to go to. The final was 5-3 but the game was incredible. To get things started, former coach Bruce Boudreau performed a ceremonial puck drop between Chris Bourque and former Bears captain Lawrence Nycholat. After that and the national anthem you would have thought the Bears hadn't come out yet.

The Senators came out flying scoring 27 seconds in on a shot by Ilya Zubov. That was the kind of night it was for Frederic Cassivi in goal. He only lasted 12:35 of the first period and only faced 9 shots but gave up 3 goals. At least one of those goals was horrible defense in front when they left Shawn Weller come in and pick up a rebound and put it home. The third goal was a nice shot to the high glove side that got by. Right after that Coach Bob Woods pulled the plug on Freddie and put in Daren Machesney.

That was the story for the rest of the first and almost half the second before Sami Lepisto scored his second of the year on a long rebound which he roofed stick side. Before the second ended Kyle Wilson scored an impressive goal, his 14th of the year, by beating 2 Sens to a puck down the left side and firing a shot high glove that beat goalie Jeff Glass clean. That momentum carried over into the third period when Scott Barney added his 12th goal 9 minutes in that tied the game at 3. And then the play of the game. Andrew Gordon on a determined forecheck leveled Nycholat into the boards and won the puck and immediately looked up and saw Andrew Joudrey coming right down the middle and put the puck on his stick which Joudrey fired past Glass for the game winner and his 6th this season. Jay Beagle added his 10th goal into the empty net which I thought was fired in after the light when on to end the game but it was counted.

This was the third game in a row that the Bears have come out flat in the first period and hopefully they can get this straightened out soon. I read somewhere yesterday that some "know it all" fan who claimed to know hockey said that Bob Woods is not a good enough coach to get the Bears through the playoffs. I think his decision to pull Freddie last night and not to wait too long proved that he knows what he is doing. Any more goals would have ended the Bears hopes and Freddie just wasn't up to the challenge last night. Good decision Coach Woods!

On to the Freddie vs Cheese argument. I would say that based on stats and performance this year that Daren "Cheese" Machesney should be and has earned the number 1 goaltender role. Cassivi has been huge for the franchise through his career and especially the last two years. But Cheese has been playing lights out and deserves his chance. Woods has said that the two goalies would split games about 50/50 for now but I think Cheese needs more of those games. Maybe as much as 75/25.

A few other updates here:

Kris Beech will not be a Bear, the Pittsburgh Penguins claimed him on waivers.

Louis Robitaille is a new father, his fiancee gave birth to their son Kayden at 7:44 Sat morning.

Ben Clymer sat out the game with a groin injury.

The Bears wore special Washington Capitals jerseys last night and auctioned them off for charity after the game. I did not stay for all of them, I know Clymer's got $1300 and Morgan's $1050. If I can get more info on how much the jersey's went for I will let you know.

The Bears are off until next Saturday when the Albany River Rats come to town. I will be at that game as well due to my buddy finding two tickets on the ground at Giant Center last night.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

No More Shootouts!!

Last we checked in with the Bears they were coming off a 3 in 3 weekend where they got 2 wins and only lost once. Since then they have played 2 games and have lost both in a shootout. Wednesday night the Norfolk Admirals snapped a 7 game losing streak to the Bears by winning 3-2 in a shootout in Hershey. Last night in Philly the division leading Phantoms needed a shootout to get past the Bears 4-3.

Scott Barney scored twice and Joe Motzko scored one as the Bears twice rallied from one goal down to get a point in the standings. It was Barney's first 2 goal game of the season and he now has 11 goals on the year. He has scored 3 goals in the last 4 games which is hopefully a sign of things to come this year. The Bears could really use his scoring.

Ryan Flinn, acquired from Springfield on Wednesday for Stephen Werner, played his first game for Hershey last night. He brings an additional physical presence to the team to help guys like Louis Robitaille. The deal for Flinn was a loan-loan deal between the teams.

Tyler Sloan played his first game since December 28.

Kris Beech was picked up by Washington earlier this week and has been placed on waivers to join Hershey. If he clears waivers, he will once again be a Bear at noon today. Keep your fingers crossed, he was a big part of the Calder Cup team from a couple years ago and will be a big bonus for the Bears this year as well. But the Columbus Blue Jackets are reportedly interested in him and may sign him before he clears. We will have to wait and see.

Tonight the Bears host the Binghamton Senators at 7pm in the Giant Center. It is Capitals night and the Bears will be wearing special jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game with the money going to charity. Former coach Bruce Boudreau will be on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck tonight.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Midweek report

Things are looking up for the Bears as far as defensemen goes anyways. Tyler Sloan is expected back in the lineup this weekend and Dean Arsene came back last weekend. Ben Clymer has also been moved to defense, not sure if it is a permanent move or temporary. Sasha Pokulok, Patrick McNeill, Sean Collins, and Chris McAllister are 4 defensemen currently on the roster that may be moved to get playing time. Most likely to be sent down are Collins and McNeill, who are both injured at this time. McAllister is also injured but could play this weekend, but more than likely not until after the all-star break.

With the Bears winning 2 of 3 this past weekend they moved into a 3-way tie for second in the East Division with Wilkes-Barre and Albany. All three teams are chasing Philly for first but are currently 8 points behind.

The Bears host Norfolk tonight, head to Philly for Friday, and then host Binghamton on Saturday at the Giant Center. 3 important games that mean a lot to the standings. Binghamton is one point behind Hershey in the East.

Expect a solid night tonight from Joe Motzko. He has 14 pts (7g,7a) in 7 games against Norfolk this season. Hershey owns a 7-1 record against Norfolk this season and this is Norfolk's final trip to Hershey this year.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Victory Against Atlantic Divison Foe

Saturday night brought out the physical play for the Springfield Falcons and Hershey Bears. The teams combined for only 7 power plays but there were 20 different penalties called. Almost all the penalties came in the second period and none in the third period. At one point in the second the Falcons had 5 guys in the penalty box and the Bears had 6 in. 11 players in the penalty box at one time! Must have been a good period to watch.

Kyle Wilson tallied a hat trick and Grant Potulney and Scott Barney added a goal each as the Bears cruised to a 5-1 victory at The Giant Center in Hershey. Wilson also added an assist for a 4 point night. Joe Motzko assisted on all of Wilson's goals. Freddie Cassivi got his first win since December 19 with a 24 save effort.

Jay Beagle returned to the lineup and ended the game with a shot on goal.

Next up for the Bears are the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins tonight in Hershey.

Go BEARS!!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Albany wins at home

For the first time in 14 games the Albany River Rats defeated the Hershey Bears at their home arena. The Bears had won 13 in a row in Albany until last night. The last home win over the Bears at home was on March 28, 2004.

After a scoreless first period the Rats took a 2-0 lead about 7 minutes into the second before the Bears responded with Chris Bourque scoring 2 goals in a little over a minute to make it 2-2 after 2 periods. Albany put the Bears away in the third with 2 goals in the final 10 minutes.

The Bears have been giving up a lot of shots lately it seems. Luckily they have 2 good goaltenders to keep them in games. Last night Machesney made 30 saves to keep the Bears in the game. The Bears also had 34 shots but Albany goaltender John Grahame stopped 32 of them for the win.

Dean Arsene played his first game since the last year's Calder Cup Finals.

After last nights lose the Bears are in fifth place in the East division standings. However, the Bears have games in hand against the teams directly around them in the standings including 3 against Binghamton, 4 against Albany, and 2 against Philly, Bridgeport, and Norfolk. Only Wilkes Barre is in better position as they actually have a game in hand against Hershey.

Jay Beagle could play tonight at home against Springfield for the first time since December 21.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mid Season Notes

Since it is about mid season for the Hershey Bears I thought I would give my mid season pluses and minuses.

Grant Potulny has been the most consistent and solid player for the Bears all year. He is currently 3rd on the team in points and first in goals with 15.
Joe Motzko has also been solid. He has only played in 31 of the 39 games but is leading the team in points with 27 (13G, 14A). My only complaint for Joe is that he needs to quit trying to make great goals all the time. So often he skates in circles multiple times until he loses the puck instead of passing.
Jay Beagle has been quite a surprise. Not many people even thought he would make the club out based on the roster but after a strong camp he has played and played well. 15 points in 24 games is solid for the rookie. Hopefully he will have a strong second half once he comes back from injury.
Sami Lepisto is probably the best defenseman on the team that isn't hurt right now. He is a veteran of some Finnish leagues but he is an AHL rookie. He scored his first goal of the season the other night and has 15 assists to go with his team high +13 rating.
Daren Machesney has been better than solid. While filling in for Freddie Cassivi he made a name for himself by playing as good as anyone in the league. He has earned more playing time in the second half and could be the goalie of choice in the playoffs.

Andrew Joudrey has had a poor season after showing so much promise at the end of last year. He has yet to show anything great this season and has been a healthy scratch for a few games.
Scott Barney has been playing better lately but more scoring is needed out of the big fella. 8 goals and 15 assists halfway through the season is not good enough for him.
Ben Clymer, the million dollar man, is not earning his pay and the Caps organization knows it. They tried again a couple weeks ago to see if anyone wanted to sign him off waivers but no one picked him up. Need a lot more from him. In the beginning of the year he was trying to teach to much and still is sometimes. Play more and teach less.
Chris Bourque has also had a relatively poor season. By some standards the little guy has had a solid season but with expectations high and an early season call up I expected more. 23 points and 12 goals are not good enough. We need him to score 30 goals and get 60-70 points in a season. He is capable to do it and hopefully he picks up in the 2nd half.

News and notes:
Dean Arsene is expected to return Friday at Albany. Tyler Sloan and Beagle are getting better and could play this weekend but probably not until next week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Decent Weekend for the Bears

The Hershey Bears split their two weekend games by beating Lake Erie Saturday night 6-4 and losing Sunday night to Hartford 3-1.

Saturday's game was a good rebound effort from a poor performance last Wednesday night. Andrew Gordon scored 3 goals, Stephen Werner, Sami Lepisto, and Jason Morgan all scored for Hershey as they chased Tyler Weiman from net in the 2nd period. At the end of the 1st period it was 4-1 and after the second it was 6-3 before finalizing the scoring at 6-4.

Sunday nights game was not as good a performance. After chasing Hartford goalie Al Montoya in their game in Hartford on January 4 the Bears got to go against Miika Wiikman on Sunday. They weren't able to chase him from net though. That may have been due to the fact that they had only 23 shots all game. Gordon scored the lone goal for the Bears. Freddie Cassivi made his return from Washington and played well, making 33 saves on 35 shots. Hartford added an empty net goal with under a minute to play.

Louis Robitaille returned to the lineup both nights and Josef Boumedienne also played in both games for the Bears.

Tyler Sloan, Dean Arsene, and Jay Beagle could possibly return to lineup this weekend. Which would help a depleted defensive corps get some depth. Ben Clymer played defense Sunday night due to injuries on defense.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Poor showing against Baby Pens

From the looks of the stat sheet the Bears had a horrible performance up in Wilkes-Barre tonight. The final score was 3-1 Pens but the Bears were outshot 40-16. They actually had a 1-0 lead after 2 periods before giving up three goals in the third. Goaltender Brent Johnson, down with the Bears on a one game rehab assignment, made 37 saves and was the second star of the game. If it wasn't for him this one probably would have been uglier. Good thing he didn't give up on the game.

Hopefully the Bears will start getting healthy and playing with a little more urgency now that the season is reaching the midpoint. Andrew Joudrey returned to the lineup last night, hopefully he can start to play like the player he was last season.

Congrats to Joe Motzko who was named to the PlanetUSA all star team this season.

Looking forward to seeing Freddie back in a Bears uniform soon, maybe even tomorrow night.

Louis Robitaille missed his second straight game tonight. He did not even dress for warmups on Wednesday night, instead he watched from just outside the press box. Maybe a punishment for his arrest last weekend? The team says its not but somethin isn't adding up.

MacMillan and Boumedienne have begun skating and could be back soon. Boomer before MacMillan last among the three probably. Arsene is also working at a come back soon but no time table set for him. Unfortunately Jay Beagle, Tyler Sloan, and Sean Collins still aren't skating after suffering concussions a while back.

More tomorrow/Sunday after the Lake Erie game.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Eric Fehr Returns

Eric Fehr played in his first game since February of last season. The Bears scored 40 seconds into the game and was originally credited to Fehr before being awarded to Chris Bourque.

All in all a good 2-1 victory over the Norfolk Admirals in front of about 6,000 people. The second goal from Pinizzotto to Barney was an incredible goal to watch. A little give and go and the puck went off of Barney's stick right into the net. Denis never had a chance to stop it. Other than that play the night was relatively dull and uneventful. It was a close hockey game that did not have any real swings or momentum changes.

Brent Johnson was assigned to Hershey this morning for a conditioning assignment. Hopefully he doesn't play much because Cheese is playing great hockey right now.

Next up for the Bears are the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins on Friday night.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bears back in action tomorrow!

The Hershey Bears have a 3 games in 5 days weekend this week. First up is the lowly Norfolk Admirals on Wednesday night at 7, then the Lake Erie Monsters make their first ever trip to Hershey on Saturday at 7, and then to finish out the weekend the Hartford Wolfpack come to town Sunday night at 5.

I will be at the Norfolk game and will have a recap on the site afterwords.

Go Bears!!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

1-1 against Atlantic Division Foes This Week

After losing to Worcester on Wednesday night the Bears got a good win against a top Atlantic Division team in the Hartford Wolfpack. Last nights game in Hartford was an offensive match that ended 5-4 for the Bears.

The Bears were actually up 4-0 after one period before giving up 2 in the second. Early in the third the game went 5-2 and ended 5-4. Cheese made 38 saves in the game as the Bears were out shot 42-26. Scott Barney, Grant Potulny, Andrew Gordon, Joe Motzko, and Ben Clymer scored for the Bears. Barney and Clymer need to get some more goals for the Bears through the second half of the season. Gordon isn't expected to do too much, he has 2 goals on the year and can hopefully add about 6-10 more for the season.

The Bears are off until Wednesday night when they play host to the Norfolk Admirals.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Outlook for '08

The Bears have enjoyed much success the past few years with deep playoff runs and one Calder Cup to their credit. I think the upcoming year will be a success as well.

This year's team does not have the scoring power as last seasons but it has a more physical style like in 05-06 when they one the cup. Can they win the cup again? Absolutely. In fact I would give them good odds to do so. A few things have to happen though:

  1. Find another consistent scorer or two. The only player on the team that is even close to a point a game is Joe Motzko, who is only a big injury away from playing in Washington for the rest of the season. Grant Potulny leads the team in goals and some other guys are getting into things now, like Wilson. But the team needs guys like Chris Bourque, Jay Beagle, Ben Clymer, and Andrew Joudrey to step up and start scoring more.
  2. Figure out the goaltending situation. I know this sounds crazy considering the Bears have Freddie Cassivi but the goaltending situation needs ironed out. Daren Machesney (nicknamed Cheese) is playing great between the pipes and deserves to at least get a look at being the #1 goalie. His numbers are outstanding, a 2.03 GAA, 9-2-1 record with 1 shutout, and a .930 save percentage. Compared to Freddie's 3.10 GAA, 10-10-1 record, and .900 save percentage and you can see that Cheese is outplaying Freddie right now.
  3. Stay physical. The last two Calder Cup champions, the Hershey Bears and Hamilton Bulldogs had two things in common. A hot goaltender and a very physical game. This years Bears team is more like the Calder Cup team in their physicality. Last year's team was more finesse than muscle and they lost in the finals to Hamilton. This year's team needs to keep up the work along the boards and continue intimidating the other teams with physical play.
  4. Get healthy. Obviously injuries play a big role in a teams success late in the season and the Bears will be no different. The hope here is that the team is getting all of their injuries out of the way now instead of later. Dean Arsene, Josef Bomedienne, Tyler Sloan, Jay Beagle, and others are out or have been out and hopefully get and stay healthy sooner than later.

If the Bears can do these things and play hard every game than there is no reason that they can't or won't get back to the playoffs and have another deep run into June.

LET'S GO BEARS!!! B-E-A-R-S Woooooooo!!!!

Celebrating the New Year with a W

The Hershey Bears defeated the Philadelphia Phantoms on New Years Eve by a score of 2-1. All three goals came in the first as Daren Machesny and Brian Boucher had solid games in goal.

In only took Hershey 8 seconds to take the lead. Grant Potulny scored the games first goal at 8 seconds in to set a new Bears record for fastest goal to open a game. Wilson scored later in the first to make it 2-0 before Downie scored for Philly to make it 2-1.

Injury list is still somewhat long with guys like Beagle, Joudrey, and Sloan missing more time.

After the weekend the Bears remain in fourth place in the East Division but are now only 5 points out of first. A great weekend for the Bears as they went 3-0 since Friday. All the wins coming against division opponents. Upcoming games this week are at Worcester and at Hartford. It will be the first meeting against both teams this season.