Friday, February 29, 2008

Not Quite

The Bears almost pulled off a sweep of 2 games in Manitoba falling to the Moose by a score of 4-2. Josef Boumedienne and Kyle Wilson scored the two goals, both in the 2nd period.

The Moose jumped out to a 2 goal lead in the first period before the Bears tied it in the 2nd. After two it was 3-2 and Manitoba added the final goal about halfway through the third period.

The loss keeps the Bears 8 points out of first in the East but still alone in second place.

Next up is Hamilton Saturday and Toronto on Sunday.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Good Start to Road Trip with Win Over Manitoba

It was a wonderful season debut for Alexandre Giroux in Manitoba last night. Last season's leading scorer scored a goal and assisted on another for his first 2 points this season for the Bears.

The Bears pulled out a 4-3 win in Winnipeg to move with 8 of Philly in the East Division. Jay Beagle added a shorthanded goal, Josef Boumedienne scored one, and Ryan Flinn scored his first as a Bear for Hershey. Daren Machesney had a solid night in goal to get his team leading 18th win on the season. Sami Lepisto assisted on 3 of the goals after being sent down by the Capitals.

The Bears stay in Winnipeg for another game against Manitoba tonight before heading to Hamilton for a Saturday night game at Copps Coliseum.

Chris Bourque has been reassigned by Washington and could play tonight if he makes it to Winnipeg in time. I suspect he won't play until Saturday in Hamilton.

Welcome Back, ALEXANDRE!!!

Well, I said on Sunday that I had a pretty good idea of who Coach Woods was talking about when he said some of the veterans need to fall in line. I said at the time that I wouldn’t give my opinion because I was not at the game Saturday night that was being referenced at the time. I think my suspicions were confirmed on Tuesday though. Joe Motzko, who in my opinion has had trouble passing and playing as part of a team for most the season, was traded on NHL deadline day.
The best part of this story is who he was traded for. ALEXANDRE GIROUX! He is back and is a member of the Hershey Bears yet again. Last season he led the team in goals with 42 and was obviously an integral part of the team. Due to his veteran status he has been unable to crack the lineup in some games this season and hasn’t been thrilled with it. He has 19 goals and 22 assists with the Chicago Wolves this year.
During the Christmas break he put out some feelers about getting back to Hershey and chasing another cup. He managed to do that. He is expected in Manitoba tonight for the Bears/Moose game but his equipment was on a plane to San Antonio so not sure if he will be in the lineup or not. He is expected to play.
Glad to have him back. I think it is a critical and genius move by the GMs involved.

Other News and Notes:

Chris Bourque played last night in the Caps 4-1 win over Minnesota. He played right wing on a line with David Steckel and Quintin Laing.

There were two Hershey lines in last night’s game, the one mentioned above and a line with Tomas Fleishmann, Brooks Laich, and Eric Fehr. The Laich line accounted for all 4 goals. 2 for Laich, 1 for Fehr (his 1st of the season), and 1 for Shaone Morrison

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Weekend Split With Phantoms

The Hershey Bears played in Philly Friday night and at home in Hershey on Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phantoms. They managed to play good hockey Friday night in a 3-2 win and apparently no hockey on Saturday as they fell 5-3.

Friday's game was won by Josef Boumedienne with a goal about 4 minutes into the second period. After that no one else scored and the Bears won 3-2. Both teams had 24 shots in that game with Freddie Cassivi and Brian Boucher in net for the Bears and Phantoms respectively.

Saturday's game was a little different. The Bears came out determined in the first 20 minutes and were up 3-0 after the first period. But then they stopped playing, a problem that seems to be recurring. Kyle Wilson (18th of the year), Jay Beagle (13th), and Andrew Joudrey (8th) scored in the first and no Bears could score again. This time both teams had 32 shots with Scott Monroe making some important saves after allowing the 3 goals in the first. Freddie Cassivi once again got the start and couldn't quite get the job done.

It was a physical game that included 3 fights and 20 penalties overall, with each team getting called for 10. Boyd Kane was the difference maker for the Phantoms. Remember the name? Yes he was the Bear's captain when they won the Cup 2 years ago. And now he is back in Philly leading a solid Phantoms team towards a division crown. He had 2 goals and 2 assists to pace the Phantoms last night. Both of his goals, his 12th and 13th this season, came on Phantoms power plays in the second. He tied the game with 2 minutes to go in period number 2.

The Bears just couldn't get anything going. According to Coach Bob Woods, "It wasn't our young guys, it was our older guys playing stupid, taking bad penalties, being cute." He continues with "We've had that problem a lot of the year, where we've had guys that were on their own page. There are still guys there that want to continue to do that. If guys are going to do that, they're not going to be here. Plain and simple."

Woods was referring to the trade deadline on Tuesday and that playoff rosters need to be set on Thursday. I could probably guess some of the players that are not playing as part of the team but will not do so because I wasn't there. Some of the games I saw though are probably good indicators of who it is. They have been consistent in their inability to play as part of a team.

I said around midyear that I thought this team could make a run for the Calder Cup. I still believe that but certain things have to happen. And right now they are not happening. That is at least 3 games in the past 2 weeks that the Bears have blown at least a 2 goal lead in a game to lose. If it doesn't stop soon, the Bears may not make it through the first round.

News and Notes:

Grant Potulny was loaned to Springfield earlier this week for D Danny Syvret. I am not sure if this move was good or not. Syvret will provide needed depth and experience on the blueline but Potulny was the second leading scorer. Time will tell.....

Sami Lepisto and Eric Fehr were called back up to Washington on Friday. Lepisto saw action in last night's Caps game with Carolina.

Boumedienne has a 16 game point streak going and needs one more to be the definite top defenseman in that category. There are 5 forwards in Bears history who have gotten points in 17 straight games. Boomer can tie that mark tonight in Hershey.

The Bears play host to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton tonight in Hershey. The game is surely sold out. I tried to get tickets on Tuesday but there were very few left.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tough OT Loss To Baby Pens

The Bears have been on the road since last Thursday night and have collected 3 points in 4 games but only W. That is not going to get it done heading towards the playoffs. Something needs to change or the Bears will be hibernating sooner than expected this year.

Last night was close game that didn't go the Bears way. Almost mid way through the 2nd period the goal judge disallowed a Bears goal that should have counted. The Bears came back from one goal deficits twice but once sudden death starts there is noway to come back anymore. And the Bears didn't put up much of a fight in OT as the Pens scored 12 seconds in to give them a 3-2 win at home.

Kyle Wilson scored his 17th of the season and Eric Fehr, just down from Washington, added his 3rd of the season to make the game 2-2. Marc-Andre Fleury, making another rehab start for Wilkes-Barre, made 27 saves for the W. The Bears outshot the Pens 29-22 but couldn't stop as many.

Sami Lepisto and Fehr were reassigned to Hershey yesterday and both played last night.

The injury list is a long one with D-Men on it. Tyler Sloan, Ben Clymer, and Dean Arsene are all on the list.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bears win in OT!

It really shouldn't have come to this. There is no reason that this game should have ended in OT. The Bears won 6-5 in overtime but were up 5-1 going into the third period. How does a team give up 4 goals in a period? You can't do that if you expect to win in the playoffs or ever.

The teams used the power play to their advantages and there were a lot of them. Referee Nygel Pelletier called 26 different infractions that resulted in 20 power plays, 8 for Hershey and 12 for Binghamton. The Bears converted on 4 of theirs and the Sens on 3.

The teams traded first period power play goals with the Bears drawing first blood. Grant Potulny (18th of the year) scored less than 3 minutes into the game and Denis Hamel (23rd) scored in the last minute of the first to tie the score at one.

The Bears controlled the second period getting 4 goals, 3 of them on the PP. Scott Barney (14th), Ben Clymer (11th), Potulny (19th), and Kyle Wilson (15th) all scored in the second. The game at this point looked to be over. The Bears were controlling the play and should have skated out with a solid W.

But the Sens had other thoughts and tied it up in the third on power play goals from Hamel (24th) and Matt Carkner (7th). And then Greg Mauldin scored 2 (10th,11th) to tie the score. The second goal came with just 28 seconds left on the clock and the Sens goalie pulled.

Fortunately for the Bears Kyle Wilson added his 16th of the year with almost 4 minutes gone in overtime so that there would be no shootout.

For the second time this weekend the Bears allowed a last minute goal to tie the game. In this game though there was no reason that the Bears were even in that position. Someone needs to step up on that team and become the vocal leader.

The win was good and the Bears are all alone in 2nd place in the Division with WB/S just 2 points back. Upcoming games for the Bears this week will have significant meaning to the standings. The Bears visit WB and Philly on Wednesday and Friday, and then they host Philly on Saturday and WB on Sunday. Should be an interesting week.

Congratulations to Sami Lepisto. He made his NHL debut last night for the Caps. He even saw time on the power play.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Downed in Rochester

The Hershey Bears were defeated last night by the worst team in the Western Conference and 2nd worst team in the league. It would appear that the Bears expected to go in a get a win without much effort. The Rochester Americans won the game 4-2, they had a 4-1 advantage with almost 4 minutes to go before Joe Motzko scored his second of the night.

Joe Motzko was the only Bear to score last night. He had 2 goals which gives him a team leading 21 goals on the season. He is having a solid year and deserved his All-Star invitation.

The Bears are still tied with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for second in the division after both teams lost last night. The two teams place twice in the next 8 days. Those are 2 critical games for both teams but especially the Bears considering their long road trip coming up.

Next up for Hershey is a trip to face the Binghamton Senators tonight. Another important game as the Sens are only 3 points back from Hershey in the division.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Thing There Are No Shootouts in Playoffs

If there were shootouts in the playoffs than I don't think the Bears would be anywhere near the finals. They are now 1-5 in shootouts this season after losing to the Lake Erie Monsters last night in Cleveland 5-4 (3-2 in shootout). It was a back and forth night in Cleveland as both teams came back from 1 goal deficits twice.

The Bears were winning 4-3 with less than a minute remaining until Lake Erie scored while their net was empty and they were on the power play. It took a 6 on 4 for the Bears to allow a goal in the closing minutes and still almost won in a shootout.

Bears goals were scored by Sami Lepisto, Jason Morgan, Joe Motzko, and Grant Potulny.

Freddie Cassivi did not have a great game as he gave up 4 goals on 25 shots. He didn't have much help on the power play apparently. The Monsters went 3 of 8 on the power play. The Bears better fix the penalty kill because giving up 3 goals a night would not be a good way to go forward.

Other News and Notes:

Sami Lepisto has been recalled by Washington and is up with the team tonight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Good past weekend!

Good job to the Hershey Bears for a good 2 game stretch on Saturday and Sunday. The Bears defeated the WB Penguins on Saturday 5-3 and Worcester Sharks on Sunday 6-4. The games were different but proved the teams talent and determination in each. The Pengiuns game was dominated by the Bears who were up 5-1 before WB added 2 goals late in the game. The game Sunday was more back and forth. The Bears had to respond often in that game and did.

Andrew Gordon was named AHL player of the week after he tallied 4 G and 3 A in 3 games last week, including the hat trick last Wednesday.

Now the Bears get a chance to prove something to everyone. Their next 5 games are on the road before playing 2 at home next weekend. After those 2 there are 9 straight on the road due to high school basketball at the Giant Center.

Up next for the Bears is Thursday at Lake Erie. The Bears defeated Lake Erie back on Jan 12 in Hershey by a score of 6-4.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

What was that last night??

The Hershey Bears played host to the Portland Pirates last night and showed them a good time. And gave them a going away present, a somewhat unchallenged Win. I was at the game and the Bears played great for the first 30 mins or so. Then the Pirates decided to play along and the Bears didn't know what to do. Ultimately the Bears gave up a 2 goal lead and lost 4-3.

Andrew Gordon is 1 of only 2 Bears that need mentioning here. Gordo tallied a hat trick last night in front of a sold out crowd. The other Bear is Louis Robitaille who used his antics to draw a penalty and he also made some great hits. Some people may say he is/was scared to fight Bootland but I think that he was just trying to bate him into a penalty, which he did. Good Job Louis. The rest of the Bears didn't play sharply at all and need something to get them going.

Arsene and Bootland fought with about 5 minutes to go in the 2nd period and from then on the Pirates took it to the Bears. What started out as a good game that the Bears controlled turned into a game in which the Bears couldn't even get the puck out of their own zone.

A couple more Bears to talk about, but not really about last nights game. Why is Machesney still the #2 goalie? He is third in the league in GAA and has better numbers than Freddie across the board. I understand Freddie has been an above average or spectacular goalie the past couple of years but it is time to give the position to Cheese. He has earned it. Stop being sentimental and loyal and start trying to win. Coach Woods said he is going to award playing time based on performance, hopefully that includes goalies.

Next up for the Bears is at Wilkes Barre on Saturday and home for Worcester Sunday.

Go Bears!! Let's see some more effort this weekend.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Solid Effort Against Albany

After a week without games the Hershey Bears and Albany River Rats began the game in a fighting mood. 2 fights in the first 19 seconds of the game plus a roughing penalty against Albany set the tone for the game early on. Louis Robitaille fought twice in the game and Grant Potulny had the first fight of the game as the teams racked up 22 penalty minutes in the first 19 seconds and 62 penalty minutes for the game.

The Bears ended up getting goals from Jason Morgan (2), Eric Fehr, Joe Motzko, and Chris Bourque and Daren Machesney finished with 23 saves on 25 shots as the Bears won 5-2. They were up 2-0 going into the third before Albany got 2 goals 2 minutes apart about halfway through the period. The Bears finished them off shortly after that with 2 more goals before Morgan put home an empty net goal in the waning seconds.

Next week the Bears are home against Portland on Wed., at WB/Scranton Sat, and home for Worcester on Sunday. After that game the Bears play 14 of 16 on the road due to high school basketball and wrestling in Hershey. 5 straight on the road, then 2 at home before finishing that run with 9 straight road games. This stretch will tell us a lot about this team and there ability to get the job done.