Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A few facts to consider

If you don't subscribe to the Patriot News or didn't get the chance to read it yesterday Tim Leone had some nice statistics to look at and consider. I will share them with you here....

  • For the fifth time in Bears history they have won 20 games in the first 30. The other 4 teams made it to the Calder Cup finals with 3 of them winning including last years team and the 96-97 team.
  • The Bears lead the league in goals. They did this last year too.
  • But this year (unlike last year) they are also really good at defense allowing the 2nd fewest goals in the league.

It gets even more impressive:
  • Alexander Giroux is second in the league in scoring with 33 points. And he has only played in 21 of Hershey's 31 games....not too bad.
  • Oh and Andrew Gordon and Keith Aucoin, each with 32 points, are tied for 3rd overall. Yes that means 3 of the leagues top 4 players reside in Hershey.
  • Gordon is tied for the league lead with 15 goals and is tied for second in power play goals with 8. Aucoin is tied for second in goals with 14.
  • John Carlson leads all defensemen in scoring (24 points), is 3rd in rookie scoring, and is 4th among all players in assists with 23. He is also tied for the league lead with a +17 rating.
  • Steve Pinizzotto is tied for the AHL lead with 3 short handed goals.
  • Michal Neuvirth is 4th in save percentage and 5th in goals against average.

And the following stats are even better (in my opinion)...especially if you consider last seasons struggles (albeit minor in the end):
  • Hershey's TOP RANKED penalty kill has given up only 11 goals....and they have scored 7 shorties! Only 11 goals in 31 games...very impressive.
  • The power play is #6 overall and since Chris Bourque has been back they have been converting 31.3% of their chances which would be #1 in the league.
  • The Bears are 3rd in the AHL in road points percentage and is tied for 3rd in home points percentage.

And to the fans:
  • Hershey AGAIN leads the league in attendance, averaging 8,718 per game. And if you are wondering how close the 2nd place team is....Manitoba is averaging almost 1,500 less. That is quite the difference.

Just wanted to mention again that I am not responsible for these stats...I borrowed them from Tim Leone. Thanks Tim for doing the research.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Huge win for Bears in Rochester

Yesterday I mentioned that Rochester is a very good home team (11-1-1-0 going into last nights game) and has one of the best power plays in the AHL (2nd overall).

But that didn't help them last night. Despite spending much of the first period (4 separate minors) on the penalty kill the Bears still managed to come away with a 3-1 victory over the North division leaders.

Hershey got a strong performance in goal by Braden Holtby, now 4-1-1 on the season, as he made 26 saves in the winning effort. Hershey held their own at the other end as well scoring 3 times (once in each period) and getting 40 shots on Alexander Salak.

Salak now has 4 losses on the season...half of them coming against the Bears. I am sure he doesn't want to see anymore of Hershey this season.

Hershey got goals from Oskar Osala (7th of the season), Jay Beagle (5th), and Amerks killer Keith Aucoin (13th and 4th in two games against Amerks) to collect their 19th win of the season. Hershey now leads the East division by 3 points with 2 games in hand over 2nd place Albany.

It was a good performance by the Bears as they had struggled recently on Friday nights. It seems the practice schedule change (they had off Tuesday) might have helped them out a bit.

Tonight (depending on the weather) the Bears will host the Amerks at Giant Center. Jason Bacashihua is expected to get the start in net for Hershey.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rochester again

Last Saturday night the Bears hosted the Rochester Americans and handed them a 6-2 loss while forcing the Amerks starting goaltender Alexander Salak from the game.

Tonight the Bears will be the guests at Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial (that's a mouthful) in Rochester.

Rochester is much better at home than on the road. At home they are 11-1-1-0 overall while only 9-6-0-0 on the road. They have also scored 50 goals at home and have only allowed 25 while those numbers are 43 and 48 on the road. And while Hershey hasn't been bad on the road this year (9-5-0-0) they have struggled the past 2 Friday nights on the road when a Wednesday game didn't keep them prepared. And guess what...this is another of those.

A true test of what this team has comes tonight. A good team, even better at home, against a Bears team that hasn't exactly dominated in recent Friday road games.

Last Saturday the Amerks were playing without a few of their top offensive weapons including Michal Repik and Jeff Taffe. And after 3 shifts Graham Mink also left the game with an injury. None of those three are expected to play tonight either.

Rochester played Syracuse this past Tuesday and looked average doing it. Salak however looked very good which is a good sign for the Amerks considering his game in Hershey last Saturday. Rochester got a boost in that from NHLer Nick Tarnasky who is in Rochester for a 5 game conditioning stint. He scored 2 goals Tuesday and will play this weekend against Hershey.

On other note....Michael Duco is back in Rochester for this weekend. To those of you who follow any Capitals blogs you might remember Duco from a few weeks ago. On December 3rd while Giroux was in Washington and Duco was in Florida Duco essentially jumped Giroux and ended up with 27 penalty minutes. To read more about this go over to On Frozen Blog and read their write up.

Here is the video as well....

Boy I hope Duco, GMac, and Ammo get to play tonight...that would be fun!!

Hershey Bears
record ~ 18-8-0-2 38 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-2 Win vs Rochester, 12/12
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 9-5-0-0
goals for ~ 103
goals against ~64
power play ~ 16.8% (11th)
penalty kill ~ 93.3% (1st)

Rochester Americans
record ~ 20-7-1-0 41 points
standings ~ 1st in North Division
most recent game ~ 5-3 Win vs Syracuse, 12/15
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 11-1-1-0
goals for ~ 93
goals against ~ 73
power play ~ 21.3% (2nd)
penalty kill ~ 85.3% (11th)

last time teams met - Hershey won last Saturday night 6-2.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- Scored a hat trick last Saturday night against the Amerks and is now second on the team in goals with 12. Has 4 goals and 5 assists in 5 December games.
LW Alexander Giroux (12) - Wonder if he is going to go after Duco tonight?? Doubt it but even still he has 3 goals and 9 assists in his last 8 AHL games including 2 assists last Saturday night.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - After having a minor cold streak of no goals in 6 games he has come to play recently. Scoring 8 goals and adding 5 assists in his last 10 games.


C Jamie Johnson (10) - Leads the team with in points (25) and is tied for the team lead in goals with 10 he was struggling for much of the past few weeks but has managed to pick up his game of late. A goal and 4 assists in his last 2 games after only 2 goals and 2 assists in his previous 10.
LW Michael Duco (14) - Isn't a great offensive threat (only 4 goals this season) but in his last 2 AHL games he has a goal and an assist and lets not forgot that he and Giroux have history.
LW Andrew Sweetland (18) - Only 4 goals this season but 2 of those came last Saturday night against the Bears.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Aucoin's trick...interesting roster news

After a lackluster performance on Friday night in Albany many were wondering which Bears team would shot up Saturday in Hershey. Unfortunately for the Bears they came out Saturday and allowed Rochester to take a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the contest.

And that was the last time Rochester competed in this game.

From then on Hershey took control by scoring 6 to Rochester's 2. Keith Aucoin scored 3 of those to give him 12 this season, good for 2nd on the team. Braden Holtby made 34 saves as the Americans tried the best they could to get back into the game with 28 shots over the last 40 minutes.

Hershey also got goals from Andrew Gordon (15th), Jay Beagle (4), and Boyd Kane (11) on their 26 shots. All those goals weren't cost Alexander Salak a loss and cost him playing time as he didn't finish the game. He was replaced for the 3rd time this season after giving up 4 goals in the first period.

Hopefully whatever the Bears figured out on Saturday night will return on Friday when Hershey visits the Amerks in Rochester.

In other news this weekend....

The Caps have finally found a home for Michael Nylander. The talented yet overpriced Swede will be spending the remainder of this season in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins...unless of course they loan him out somewhere. Fortunately for the Bears they won't have to see him in the regular season.

Grand Rapids currently resides in 4th place in the North Division so having the extra help might help them get into the postseason. But goal scoring hasn't been their issue and I highly doubt they brought Nyles in to play defense.

More importantly for the Caps (and Bears) though is that the Caps were able to get his multi million dollar salary off the books this season. Now they have some cap space and a roster space available for someone else.

And that someone else has been found...Karl Alzner was recalled earlier and is expected to get a legitimate opportunity to remain in Washington. That is not great news for Hershey as he is probably the best defenseman in Hershey. But as is life in the minor leagues....they will go on.

In other news out of Washington, Mathieu Perreault is back in Hershey while Kyle Wilson might make his NHL debut tomorrow night. Perry was playing very well for a while with the Caps but has struggled of late. He has only produced 1 point in his last 10 games.

As for Wilson this is a great chance for him. This is what I would call a 'show us what you got' call up. Wilson is not considered the top center in Hershey for either offense or defense. If they were looking for a true offensive force they would have called up Aucoin. If they were looking for a solid defensive player they would have called up Beagle.

But Wilson deserves a look and this is his chance. Fair or not his value to the organization will likely be decided during his stay in the capital district.

Good Luck Kyle and as for Karl...congratulations and good luck.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bears welcome Graham Mink and the Amerks

Last year Graham Mink played a critical role in helping the Bears to their 10th Calder Cup trophy. He scored 32 goals during the season and another 7 in the playoffs. He skated on the top line with Giroux and Aucoin and played his role perfectly. And then in the offseason he left the organization with the hopes of playing in the NHL.

Unfortunately that has yet to happen and he has spent the entire season with Rochester in the North division. But that hasn't been the worst as he is again playing for a division leading team and is the leading goal scorer for the team as well.

It is always good to see former Bears get a shot in the NHL. Dean Arsene got his shot earlier this year with Edmonton and hopefully Minker will get his shot this season with Florida. I think everyone in Hershey will give Mink a warm welcome tonight and we are all rooting for him to get to the top level.

But we still want to see the Bears win and for that to happen they need to show up. Rochester is a good team. Like I mentioned above they are leading the North division by 3 points and have a +22 goal differential. Rookie goaltender Alexander Salak is playing great this season with a 2.03 goals against average and a 15-2 record in 18 games. He is 4th in the league in save percentage with a .933 and is the league leader in wins with those 15.

Like the Bears this team is offensively balanced. 21 players have scored a goal this season and 14 of them have scored 3 or more with Mink's 10 goals leading the way. There doesn't appear to be a go to tandem that controls the offensive strings but they seem to get it done. They don't have a top line like Hershey's where they can just count on them to produce with regularity. No one on the team is producing at a point per game or better while Hershey has 4 such players.

But that doesn't make them any less dangerous. The Bears need to know how to beat this team though as their next 3 games are against them. Tonight and then next Friday in Rochester and next Saturday back in Hershey.

This is a great chance to make an impression against a good Western Conference team. Although of late the Amerks are struggling a bit having lost 2 of their last 3 road games and 3 of their last 4 overall.

Something has to give in these games tough...Rochester possesses the leagues #1 power play while Hershey boasts the leagues #1 penalty kill....which unit is truly the best? We start the discovery tonight.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 17-8-0-2 36 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss @ Albany, 12/11
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 8-3-0-2
goals for ~ 97
goals against ~62
power play ~ 16.3% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 93.0% (1st)

Rochester Americans
record ~ 19-6-1-0 39 points
standings ~ 1st in North Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Loss vs Abbotsford, 12/11
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 9-5-0-0
goals for ~ 86
goals against ~ 64
power play ~ 22.7% (1st)
penalty kill ~ 86.0% (9th)

last time teams met - First of 4 meetings this season.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17)- After spending the first couple months of the season in Pittsburgh with the Penguins he returned to Hershey last Saturday night and scored 3 goals and 2 assists in his two games last weekend.
LW Alexander Giroux (12) - No one played that well last night but Giroux had his chances but he couldn't get shots off. He needs to do better tonight.
G Braden Holtby (1) - Gets his 5th start of the season in Hershey and his first since November 21 as Michal Neuvirth is in Washington. Solid numbers to this point...1.23 goals against and a .953 save percentage...I would say those are pretty good numbers.


RW Graham Mink (21) - Leads the team with 10 goals and is tied for second with 20 points. He has 3 goals and an assist so far in 5 December games.
C Chris Taylor (12) - Leads the team in assists (16) and points (22) he hasn't produced in 2 straight games but does have a goal and 5 assists in the 4 games prior to that.
RW Michael Repik (26) - Tied for second on the team in goals with 9 and has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 games.


Damn you Justin Peters

For the second time in a week Justin Peters and the Albany River Rats completely shut down the AHL's highest scoring team. 36 shots by the Bears last night and 36 saves by Peters to earn the shutout.

Even with the additions of Alexander Giroux and Chris Bourque the Bears could not muster enough offense to beat the Albany goalie. Honestly though I thought the offense was average at best. The stats say 36 shots but I don't think half of those even got to the goalie. Although in the third period Peters made a few spectacular saves.

Hershey's goaltender, Jason Bacashihua, didn't do too much worse. He made two phenomenal saves early in the 2nd period to keep the Bears in the game but in the end he wasn't as good as his counterpart.

Even without a few good players the Rats still came up with enough offense to cut the Bears division lead to only 3 points. Albany got goals from Chris Terry, Nick Dodge, and an empty netter from Mike Angelidis to send the Bears back to Hershey on a sour note.

It was just the second time this season that the Bears have been shutout. And while Peters definitely played great the Bears didn't exactly help themselves. They only registered 5 shots in the first period to Albany's 15 and 2 goals. You can't give a goalie like Peters a period off and then start playing down 2 goals in the 2nd period.

And the power play...I shouldn't even get started....7 chances and not too much coming from them. Referee Frederic L'Ecuyer gave the Bears numerous opportunities but the Bears found ways to fumble the puck around in the offensive zone. But you do have to give the Rats some credit as they clogged passing lanes and took away what the Bears wanted to do.

These two don't meet again til mid January (15th) again in Albany. Maybe by then the Bears will have figured out a way to beat the Rats.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Justin Peters - 36 saves and his second straight A+ against the Bears
  2. Jacob Micflikier - primary assist on all 3 goals
  3. Chris Terry - first goal of game, game winning goal as it turns out and an assist

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B | The first period was pathetic but they got their game going in the 2nd and 3rd but couldn't beat the Rats. Seemed to wait too long to shoot sometimes....always looking for that perfect pass. A hot goaltender will do that to a team...they think they need to make the perfect play to beat them.
  • Defense | B | The blueline units seemed to do okay. No major gaffes, not too many problems. 2 goals allowed but that's okay in most cases. Has been a consistent source of steady play this year in my opinion.
  • Goaltending | B | Not bad. Cash played well...some big saves and a couple goals allowed. Definitely not his fault they couldn't score at the other end.
  • Power Play | F | Horrible in my opinion. Not shooting 5 on 5 is a little more understandable cause you don't have time but there was WAY too much passing on the power play last night. Instead of getting pucks at the net they were looking for the perfect pass all night long.
  • Penalty Kill | A | The only goal they allowed was the empty netter at the end and that really can't be held against them.
  • Overall | B | Not a bad game honestly. I thought they had their chances and played well in their own end. Sometimes you just run into a hot goaltender. Unfortunately they have run into the same hot goaltender twice in a week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bears look to avenge loss in Albany

The Hershey Bears get another crack at the Albany River Rats tonight in Albany. Last Friday in the same building Rats goalie Justin Peters stonewalled the Bears as the Rats won 3-1 on his 39 saves.

But unfortunately for Peters and the rest of the Rats the Bears got a lot stronger this week. Saturday night the Bears welcomed Chris Bourque back to Hershey and he responded with 3 goals and 2 assists in the next two games. Earlier this week Karl Alzner, arguably the best defenseman on the team, returned from Washington, and then yesterday the Capitals reassigned Alexander Giroux to Hershey.

None of those 3 were with the team last Friday night in Albany but all three will be there tonight.

Unfortunately (for Albany) the roster turnover for the Rats went the opposite direction. This week the Carolina Hurricanes recalled defensemen Jay Harrison and Brett Carson as well as forwards Jiri Tlusty and Pat Dwyer. All but Tlusty played against the Bears last Friday night and accounted for 1 goal and 3 assists on the night.

Not that the Rats will be any easier to beat but losing those 4 sure doesn't hurt the Bears chances. And with the addition of Giroux, who hasn't played for the Bears since the night before Thanksgiving, the Bears roster is as loaded as it has been all season.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 17-7-0-2 36 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 9-2 Win vs Hartford, 12/6
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
road record ~ 9-4-0-0
goals for ~ 97
goals against ~59
power play ~ 17.2% (11th)
penalty kill ~ 93.6% (1st)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 14-10-1-2 31 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Wilkes Barre, 12/6
last 5 games ~ 4-0-1-0
home record ~ 11-4-0-1
goals for ~ 75
goals against ~ 72
power play ~ 10.9% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 83.0% (18th)

last time teams met - Albany won 3-1 in Albany last Friday.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17)- After spending the first couple months of the season in Pittsburgh with the Penguins he returned to Hershey last Saturday night and scored 3 goals and 2 assists in his two games last weekend.
LW Alexander Giroux (12) - Hasn't played in Hershey since before Thanksgiving but he was on a roll before heading to Washington. 3 goals and 7 assists in the 6 games before the call up.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Leading the team in goals (14) and points (30) he has been extremely hot as of late. He has scored in 6 of his last 8 and in those 8 games he has 7 goals and 5 assists.


C Rob Hennigar (19) - Has only been playing for the Rats since Thanksgiving but in those 6 games he has 5 assists.
LW Jacob Micflikier (18) - Hasn't played too many games this season (8) but 4 of them have come in the past 2 weeks and he has 3 goals and an assist in those games.
C Stefan Chaput (15) - Tied for second on the team in points with 18 he has points in 4 straight games with 1 goal and 5 assists in those contests.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome Back Mr. Bourque

Friday night the Bears couldn't get a puck past Albany goaltender Jason Peters. But Saturday and Sunday they didn't have that trouble. A 5 goal Saturday and a 9 goal Sunday resulted in 4 points and a 5 point lead in the division.

And to make the weekend even better a certain #17 returned to the lineup. Late last week the Penguins put the diminutive winger on waivers and the Capitals claimed him and sent him directly to Hershey.

He arrived in Hershey at 4:30 and scored his first Hershey goal on his first shot of the game and added the game winner in the 3rd period.

Not bad for your first AHL game of the season.

Then the Bears welcomed, quite rudely I might add, the Hartford Wolfpack to the Giant Center on Sunday evening. Earlier this year the Bears put a 6-0 beating on the Pack in their own building and then they followed it up with a 9-2 beating in Hershey.

Before the game was even 23 minutes old the scoreboard read Hershey 5 Hartford 0 and starting goalie Steve Valiquette was sitting on the bench. Unfortunately for Hartford backup goalie Matt Zaba didn't fare much better.

Overall the Bears took 35 shots and scored on 9 of them. Pretty good. And pretty even scoring too. Gavin Morgan scored his first of the year (and first for Hershey since 03-04), Andrew Gordon added 2 (13 and 14), Andrew Joudrey added his 2nd against Hartford this year (4th of the season), Michael Dubuc (9), Chris Bourque (3rd), Steve Pinizzotto scored twice late (4th and 5th), and Kyle Wilson (KYLE WILSON!!!!) added a Gordie Howe hat trick to the cause with his fight, assist, and 9th goal of the season.

Congrats to the Bears for rebounding from the 3-1 loss Friday night....and....
Congrats to Chris Bourque for making it back to Hershey and finishing the weekend with 3 goals and 2 assists.

Other Notes:
  • Karl Alzner was reassigned by Washington as Shaone Morrisonn returned from injury.
  • Expect Alexandre Giroux back in Hershey by the weekend as the Caps should be healthy enough then.
  • When that happens players like Morgan, Dubuc, and Dylan Yeo could be headed back to South Carolina.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Norfolk Admirals visit Hershey Bears tonight

Tough even game last night against Albany. Unfortunately it ended in a 3-1 Albany win but for almost the entire game it was a 1 goal game until the empty netter with less than 10 seconds to go.

Hershey just couldn't beat goaltender Justin Peters although they sure tried as they fired 40 shots at him. Only Andrew Gordon (12th of the season) managed to get a shot by Peters.

Tonight Hershey welcomes Norfolk to town. This will be the third meeting of the season between the Admirals and the Bears. The first two were also in Hershey and the Bears won both, 3-1 and 5-3.

A couple weeks ago Norfolk was actually right along side the Bears at the top of the East Division but have since fallen all the way to 4th. Since their last trip to Hershey, on November 13th, they have won only 4 games and all 4 of those wins have come in either overtime or a shootout.

Included in that stretch is 7 losses, only one of those in extra time. So apparently this team is great when everything is on the line. In fact Norfolk has only lost one time when a game goes to OT or a SO (4-1 in those games). If Hershey can get a lead during regulation then they will probably win.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 15-7-0-2 32 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Loss @ Albany, 12/4
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
home record ~ 6-3-0-2
goals for ~ 83
goals against ~53
power play ~ 14.8% (17th)
penalty kill ~ 94.0% (1st)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 12-13-1-0 25 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 OT Win @ Adirondack, 12/4
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 8-8-1-0
goals for ~ 64
goals against ~ 64
power play ~ 10.8% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 90.4% (5th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 5-3 in Hershey on November 13.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- 8 goals and 12 assists in only 17 games with the Bears this season puts him 3rd on the team in scoring. Against Norfolk this season he has 1 goal and 3 assists.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Leading the team in goals with 12 and second on the team in points with 25 Gordo has been playing well lately with 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 games. He also has 3 goals against the Admirals this season (all coming in the opening game).
RW Francois Bouchard (22) - Was producing at a great pace back in the end of October into November but since the 8th of November (9 games) he has only 4 assists. Last season he slowed considerably after a hot it happening again?


RW Brandon Bockenski (27) - Leading the team in goals with 12 and points with 21 he hasn't been producing as much of late. Only 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 11 games.
C Ryan Craig (23) - Probably the hottest player for the Ads right now. He has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games. That's following 7 straight games with no points. Overall he has 9 goals (2nd on team) and 4 assists this season.
LW Radek Smolenak (10) - Like Craig he is also playing well right now with 1 goal and 4 assists in his last 3 games. Has only played 16 games this season with the Ads and has 3 goals and 8 assists so far.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Bears at Rats tonight...Cops for KOPS tomorrow afternoon

The Bears kick off their 2nd straight 3 in 3 weekend tonight in Albany against the 3rd place River Rats. This will be the second meeting between the two teams with the Bears winning 4-1 in Hershey during October.

After tonight the Bears return home for games against Norfolk and Hartford.

But the big event of the weekend takes place at 1pm....the Cops for KOPS benefit hockey game. KOPS stands for 'Keep our Pipers Silent'. This event (the 4th annual) raises money for the children of police officers in Pennsylvania who were killed in the line of duty.

Previous years have raised about $50,000 in money that will be used to assist with education costs. In 2009 six officers were killed and they left behind 12 children.

For more on this years event you can find the flyer here and an article by WHTM here. For even more information including a list of the officers being honored visit John Walton Hockey.

Tickets to the game are $10 (children under 3 are free) and ALL proceeds benefit the children.

Hopefully everyone can get to the game...imagine 10,000 people showing up for PA officers vs NY City officers...that would be cool.

But if you can't be there consider donating anyhow....Additional donations can be mailed to the Derry Township Police Association, c/o Lt. Pat O'Rourke, 620 Clearwater Road, Hershey, PA 17033.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 15-6-0-2 32 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-0 Win vs Wilkes-Barre, 11/29
last 5 games ~ 2-1-0-2
road record ~ 10-3-0-0
goals for ~ 82
goals against ~50
power play ~ 15.4% (14th)
penalty kill ~ 94.7% (1st)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 11-10-1-2 25 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win @ Norfolk, 11/28
last 5 games ~ 2-2-1-0
home record ~ 9-4-0-1
goals for ~ 64
goals against ~ 69
power play ~ 11.4% (25th)
penalty kill ~ 81.4% (21st)

last time teams met - Hershey won 4-1 in Hershey on October 31.

Players to watch:


LW Boyd Kane (28)- Has found his offensive touch the past 7 games with 7 goals and an assist. Including 4 goals in the past 3 games.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Leading the team in goals with 11 and second on the team in points with 24 Gordo has been playing well lately with 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - Only 7th on the team with 15 points but many of those have come recently with 3 goals and an assist in the last 3 and two more goals in his last 7 games.


RW Pat Dwyer (24) - Leading the team in goals with 9 and second on the team in points with 15 he has been hot of late with 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 7 games.
C Zach Boychuk (11) - While he sports a team worst -9 rating he also has 6 goals and 9 assists which ties him for second on the team in points. With 1 goal and 2 assists in his last 3 games he is also one of the hotter Rats (they seem to be struggling with consistency).
LW Jiri Tlusty (20) - Could be making his Rats debut as he was recently acquired from Toronto. With the Marlies he had 8 goals and 7 assists but only 2 of those goals have come since October.


Monday, November 30, 2009

6 games, 10 days, 8 points...not bad

I tried to watch the games Friday and Saturday night but thank you AHL Live for screwing that up for me. Unfortunately I had a meeting and didn't get to see Sunday's game so everything I am giving you today is from the little I was able to see against the Phantoms and from Tim Leone's articles and the score sheets.

Overall Hershey went 3-1-0-2 in the past 10 days. Not bad although it could have been better. The blow out loss at home to the lowly Providence Bruins was kind of a downer the night before Thanksgiving but after that it got better with a beatdown of Adirondack Friday night. Then they let us down again in a shootout against the same Phantom team before coming up with a great performance against the flightless water fowl on Sunday night at Giant Center.

22 goals scored, 8 different goal scorers, 15 goals allowed, 3 different goalies. Not a bad 6 games. And more impressively is that Giroux wasn't one of the top goal scorers and wasn't even there for the last 3 games of the weekend. But other players stepped up when needed. Of the 8 goal scorers only 2 tallied only one goal...Keith Aucoin and Trevor Bruess.

Boyd Kane scored 6 times over the last 6 games and Kyle Wilson and Andrew Gordon scored 4 times each. Giroux (2), Michael Dubuc (2), and Darren Reid (2) scored the remaining goals. It was overall a very good team effort over the 6 games.

The most impressive performance of the 10 days was probably Michal Neuvirth's goaltending job against Wilkes Barre on Sunday. As I mentioned above I didn't get to see it so I can't attest to the claim of 42 shots for the Pens but either way none of them went in. 42 shots, 42 saves and a 5-0 Bears win.

Some games Neuvy is absolutely unbeatable and then others he seems to lose focus a bit and relax too much. If he can figure that part of the game out I can assure you that we won't see him in Hershey for too much longer. He is potentially the best goalie in the system when he is on his game and that is saying alot considering Varly and Holtby.

Good run of games. Only 11 games over the next 31 days should give the team a chance to get healthy. It will also test their concentration with extended time off in between most of their games. Fortunately the month includes two 3 in 3 weekends which should keep them focused.

Also it will be nice to see some different teams for a change. After playing Binghamton, Wilkes Barre, and Adirondack a combined 11 times in the first 23 games they don't play any of them in December. Games against Norfolk, Rochester, and Albany dominate the month.

A great start to the season considering the callups and injuries the team has played through. Leading the team in goals, 5th in the league in goals against, and a 7 point lead in the division.

Not too bad.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Okay start to 6 games in 10 days

Friday night in Binghamton the Bears continued their dominance in New York beating the Senators 5-2 for their third win in that building this season. Everything appeared to be going well as they started a 6 games in 10 days stretch with the Springfield Falcons coming to Hershey Saturday night.

But unfortunately Springfield goaltender Devan Dubnyk managed to control the game by making 29 saves during play and then another 5 in the shootout to give the Falcons a 3-2 shootout win.

It was Hershey's first shootout of the season and only the second game that even made it to overtime. Last season the Bears played in 17 overtime or shootout games and were 7-6 in 13 shootouts. Maybe it is just me but I never feel like Hershey (or Washington for that matter) is any good in the shootouts. Last season was better with Varlamov and Neuvirth in net but when Freddie or Cheese was in there I always felt the Bears were at a disadvantage.

Luckily though shootouts don't exist in the playoffs and eventually another shot would have gotten past Dubnyk. And it wasn't like the Springfield offense was bringing much as they only finished with 18 shots (1 for the shootout win).

Any way you look at it the Bears finished last weekend with 3 of 4 points and have the chance at 8 more points this weekend with 3 home games and a trip to Adirondack.

Tomorrow night in the lone Wednesday night home game of the season the Bears welcome in the (last place) Providence Bruins. Hershey beat the Bruins in Providence 5-1 an November 8th so the Bruins will be looking to get one back.

Hershey welcomes back defenseman John Carlson and forward Andrew Gordon from Washington as the Caps are finally starting to get healthy.

Looking forward to a nice 4-win holiday weekend.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bears visit Senators tonight

The past two weekends the Bears answered questions about how they will respond when knocked down. And this weekend they will get to answer a couple more questions....

How will the team handle callups to multiple key players (Carlson, Beagle, Perreault, Neuvirth)?
Can the other goaltenders (Bacashihua and Holtby) step up?

Perry has been up in Washington for a while now so they have already played without him. Beagle has also been up for a couple games. But Neuvirth and Carlson just went up and won't be back this weekend.

Add to those callups the fact that Hershey faces a schedule of 6 games in the next 10 days, 4 of those against division opponents. Hershey's depth helps them in these situations but with multiple callups the depth is not as good as it was 2 weeks ago. Every team faces stretches like this but the Bears can make a statement by coming up with wins in the next 10 days.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 12-5-0-0 24 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Win vs Wilkes-Barre, 11/14
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 7-3-0-0
goals for ~ 60
goals against ~35
power play ~ 12.7% (20th)
penalty kill ~ 92.2% (5th)

Binghamton Senators
record ~ 8-7-2-1 19 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 SO Win @ Hartford, 11/18
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 2-4-1-1
goals for ~ 55
goals against ~ 56
power play ~ 16.0% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 85.7% (12th)

last time teams met - Binghamton won 5-2 in Hershey on 10/24.

Players to watch:


LW Alexandre Giroux (12)- Leading the team in goals (8) and points (21) he has 1 goal and 3 assists in the past 3 games.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Tied for second on the team in goals with 7 and has dominated in the month of November. 6 goals and 2 assists this month including 3 goals and 4 assists in his last 4 games.
D Karl Alzner (7) - Not a typical point producer he has a goal and 2 assists in his last three games and is a team best +14.


RW Ryan Keller (28) - Leading the Sens in goals (10) and points (19) he has scored 2 goals and 2 assists in the past 2 games.
C Martin St. Pierre (39) - Second on the team in goals (7) and points (18) he has only produced 1 point (assist) against Hershey this season but has registered a point in 6 straight games (2g, 4a).
LW Denis Hamel (17) - Producing at a good pace lately with points in 5 straight. 4 goals and 4 assists in those 5 games.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Beags and Neuvy with Capitals

Jay Beagle and Michal Neuvirth were recalled by the Capitals today. Neither is expected to play tonight against the Rangers however.

Jose Theodore is back in Washington tending to personal matters so Neuvy will serve as the backup to Semyon Varlamov tonight.

David Steckel took a puck off the foot at practice yesterday and his condition is somewhat unknown. IF he can't go Beags will replace him in the lineup.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bears on a roll

The last time I wrote here (sorry about the lack of posts) I asked if the Bears were going to answer after their deflating performance against Portland.

They did.

Following that game in Portland they traveled to Manchester (1st in Atlantic) and dominated them. Then they went to Providence and dominated there.

Not bad. Dominated teams from the Atlantic division that they will see only 2 times a year. But how would they do against a team they play against 8+ times a season.

Well they got the chance to prove themselves again this past weekend in Hershey. And they passed that test as well.

Norfolk (4th in East) came to town Friday night and jumped out to a 1 goal lead just over a minute into the game. But Hershey answered and continued answering on their way to a 5-3 win.

Then Wilkes-Barre came to town Saturday (currently in 2nd in division) hoping to end the Bears run. They couldn't. I didn't get to see it but it sounds like it was a somewhat fluky win but a wins a win and the Bears are up 6 points in the division.

6 points is nice but lets face it...its early. There are lots of games to play and injuries to come. Mathieu Perreault remains on recall to Washington and very well could remain there for much of the season. Although Keith Aucoin could return to Washington as well for a time. Who knows.

Either way...the Bears have played a quarter of their road games and are 7-3 with 39 goals scored. They have scored (almost) an entire goal more per road game than home game this season. (5-2 with 21 goals for at home)

Two more things before I am done....

1. Michal Neuvirth has played extremely well the past 2 weekends. He has played in all 4 games since the Portland loss and has obviously won all 4. In those games...he has a .946 save percentage and about a 1.50 goals against average. And since the start of November he is 5-0 with a .942 save percentage and a 1.60 goals against average. Nice!

2. Dean Arsene was called up to Edmonton for the game yesterday in Atlanta. Unfortunately for Deano he was a healthy scratch and did not make his pro debut but hopefully he will get his chance soon enough. Congrats Deano on getting the call up...we are all pulling for you to get a game with the Oilers soon!!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Poor performance in Portland

I watched part of the game last night and it was a disappointing effort for much of the game. The first 10 minutes were good. It was how most road teams start out...lots of energy, some good chances, and overall good play. But if teams don't convert in those first minutes the home team begins to take hold of momentum and dominate.

That is how last night went for Hershey. The Bears came out great and dominated play for the first 8-10 minutes. Then it ended.

Portland scored their first goal, then their second, third, fourth, and finally their fifth goal. Yes that's right, the top team in the East division lost to the LAST PLACE team in the Atlantic division 5-0.

Teams have to show up every game for 60 minutes and unfortunately Hershey only showed up for a few minutes last night.

Next up for Hershey is a trip to Manchester to play the Monarchs. The Monarchs, first place in the Atlantic, have already beaten the Bears this season, in Hershey 2-1. So this game will be a good indication of what the Hershey Bears are this season.

Are they a team that will show up after a bad loss?

Will they avenge an earlier defeat?

Can they beat top competition on the road?

Great test tonight for the 09-10 Bears. It is time to forget about the long season and short summer. Time to forget about what worked last season. Time to focus on now and the next opponent. Time to figure out what will work with this team THIS YEAR.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Aucoin and Perreault performing well in new spots

Today marks the 2nd game of the 4 game 5 night New England tour for the Hershey Bears. After beating Lowell 5-2 on Wednesday night they visit Portland to play the last place Pirates.

Keith Aucoin returned to the Bears on Wednesday and promptly showed the Capitals that he is a player on the larger stage. Coiner returned and promptly scored a hat trick in Lowell. That comes on the heels of scoring 5 points in 8 games with the Caps.

Taking his place in Washington was the (apparently now 5'10") Mathieu Perreault. He played in his first NHL game Wednesday night and recorded assists on both of Washington's 2 goals. So he went from being 5'8" and playing on the top line in the AHL to 5'10" and getting 2 assists in only 10.5 minutes of ice time in the NHL.

I am not surprised by his hot start in the NHL. He is a traditional playmaker that will make those around him much better. I am somewhat surprised that he is listed at 5'10" although if they measured him while he was on his skates I could see it or if he was standing on a stool.

Both players played well in the NHL and both are game changers in the AHL. Glad to have either or both in Hershey!

Hershey Bears
record ~ 8-4-0-0 16 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-2 Win @ Lowell, 11/4
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 5-2-0-0
goals for ~ 43
goals against ~24
power play ~ 13.8% (16th)
penalty kill ~ 93.3% (4th)

Portland Pirates
record ~ 4-8-0-0 8 points
standings ~ Last in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Syracuse, 10/23
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 3-1-0-0
goals for ~ 31
goals against ~ 47
power play ~ 12.1% (25th)
penalty kill ~ 70.9% (29th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 at home on Sunday, October 25th.

Players to watch:


LW Alexandre Giroux (12)- After last seasons amazing run he is picking up where he left off with 7 goals and 10 assists in only 8 games.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Apparently he was trying to make up for lost time on Wednesday by scoring 3 goals. Now has 4 goals and 4 assists in only 5 games this season in Hershey.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - After struggling to score earlier in the season he has now scored in back to back games giving him 3 for the year.


LW Nathan Gerbe (19) - One of the biggest pests on the Pirates team the 5'5" wing has 3 goals and 7 assists this season but no goals since 10/16.
C Tyler Ennis (11) - Leading the team in goals with 6 plus an additional 4 assists. 3 of his goals were on the power play and none have come in the last 3 games.
RW Mark Mancari (25) - Leading the team in points with 11 (3g 8a). Has a point in 6 straight games (2g 5a).


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Perreault gets his chance

In what I consider to be an 'avoid waiver issues' move, Mathieu Perreault was recalled by the Capitals while Keith Aucoin was reassigned to Hershey.

If Aucoin were to spend 10 games or 30 days straight with the Caps he would have to clear waivers if they wanted to send him back to Hershey. This way they keep that from happening.

Honestly they are very similar players. Both are small playmaking centers. Aucoin is more experienced and can do more scoring but Perry can do amazing things with the puck on his stick and is probably the faster skater right now.

Congrats to Perry for getting his chance and to will surely be back up there soon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A 4 point weekend

For most weekends of the AHL season when there are generally 3 games a 4 point weekend wouldn't be anything to write home about. But when you only play 2 games and travel 10 hours then it is more impressive.

The Bears started the weekend in Hartford on Friday night where they absolutely embarrassed the Wolfpack 6-0. To me the game felt dominated by the Bears but according to the score sheet the Wolfpack actually outshot the Bears 26-24.

Hershey continued the weekend into Saturday when they hosted the Albany River Rats. After allowing the first goal (shorthanded) they scored the next 4 goals to win 4-1. For the second straight night it felt as though Hershey dominated but again the score sheet says they were outshot 24-23.

So what was different about this weekend compared to previous ones? Two things.

1. Goaltending. Jason Bacashihua started both games after Michal Neuvirth got injured during pregame warmups in Hartford. And Cash looked great in both games. Allowing 1 goal on 50 shots and making several big saves in both games. Cash has played in 4 games, has won all 4, and has only allowed 4 goals.

2. Converting Chances. There were numerous attempts for the Bears in their earlier games that they let golden opportunities slip through their fingers...missing open nets, too much passing....but the past two games have been different. The passing has been spot on and the shots have been going in. Alexandre Giroux returned for Friday night which definitely helped the club as he scored 2 goals but he was missing Saturday night and the offense still showed up.

Francois Bouchard has been a big reason why. He started off the season getting bumped around between the third and fourth lines and everyone started to question his future. I got an email from someone interested to know what kind of player he was and why he wasn't performing. They asked if he was going to be another dominant junior player that doesn't put it all together at the pro level.

Honestly I said I didn't know. Anyone watching can see that he has tremendous skill and this past week proves that (5g, 5a in last 5 games). But what then has his problem been? It would seem that maturity and focus might have been his issues last season and while Oskar Osala, Mathieu Perreault, and others made noise at Caps camp it was quiet on the Bouchard front. He was one of the first players reassigned to Hershey and not many thought twice about it.

But don't forget that Bouch did this last season too. He and Osala scored plenty in the first 3 months of the season and then both trailed off to barely showing up by the end of the season. Bouch didn't even play much at the end. So is this season different? Will he be able to keep it up? Hopefully.

Beyond Bouch though multiple players stepped up this weekend. Mathieu Perreault, Boyd Kane, Andrew Joudrey, Andrew Gordon, and Oskar Osala also scored this weekend. That means 7 players scored 10 goals in 2 games for the Bears....not too bad.

My Three Stars of the Weekend:
  1. Jason Bacashihua - not sure if it is his play or the defense stepping up in front of him more than Neuvy but he has been better when he has played.
  2. Francois Bouchard - 2 goals and 5 assists in the two games....awesome weekend for the young right wing. Now consistency needs to develop.
  3. Mathieu Perreault - might be the best playmaker on the team. Had a goal and 2 assists this weekend but looked great in both games.

Grading the (Weekend) Performance:

  • Offense | A | The fact that they were outshot in both games makes the dominance even more impressive. Converted their chances and spread the scoring out to all 4 lines. Considering the 4th line on Saturday included Gavin Morgan (hadn't played in Hershey since 04-05) and Greg Amadio that is saying something.
  • Defense | A | I can't think of any particular play when the defense was bad. They seemed to settle in and play a little bit better this past weekend. It helps when your goalie saves you a couple times though.
  • Goaltending | A+ | Outstanding. Bacashihua played as well as any goaltender in Hershey this season. Bears have won 3 straight and guess what....Cash has played in 3 straight. Anyone else see a pattern?
  • Power Play | B | Not bad. 2 for 8. Allowed a shortie on Saturday. Had plenty of chances late in Hartford but didn't push too much since they were already up big.
  • Penalty Kill | A | Killed off all 8 chances for the opposition. Cash came up big on more than one occasion but the overall positioning was definitely better.
  • Overall | A | The best 2 games I have seen from Hershey this season. Excellent at both ends of the ice. Plenty of hustle and balance. This is they way they need to play if a repeat is in the cards. Teams are gunning for them and they can't outscore everyone this year.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Brutal stretch for Bears

Beginning tonight the Bears are embarking on one of the most demanding trips they have to take. Sure this weekend they play at home, Saturday against Albany, but the crazy part of that is tonight they are in Hartford to play the Wolfpack.

The trip to Hartford from Hershey is 5 hours and over 280 miles. It wouldn't be so bad if the rest of their New England road trip started immediately after but it doesn't. Instead the team will head back the same 5+ hours and 280+ miles to Hershey to play Albany on Saturday.

Then they get 3 days off before heading back up to New England for games next Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Between today and Monday, November 9 the Bears will travel over 1600 miles and will spend an amazing 28+ hours in a bus driving.

That is one hell of a 10 days. The shortest trip is from Portland to Manchester....still almost 2 hours long.

Good Luck Boys.

At least they will have Alexandre Giroux back. He was returned to Hershey the other day as Tomas Fleischmann returned to Washington. Having Giroux back is huge but getting Keith Aucoin back would be better to be honest.

In the games Coiner has played for Hershey this season the Bears almost 4 goals per game and were 3-1. Since he went up to Washington the Bears have scored only 3 goals per game and more importantly are only 2-3. And not exactly against stellar competition either.

Giroux is important too though. He is still second on the team in points and goals even though he has missed the last 3 games...of which the Bears are only 1-2.

I am not certain we will see Coiner back in Hershey this season though. It is going to depend on what happens with Michal Nylander who is currently playing for Grand Rapids in order to show him off to potential buyers. If Nylander returns to Washington and does not get traded or loaned then Coiner will be back (barring another injury) but if he gets traded or moved Coiner would probably remain in Washington on a permanent basis.

Time will tell....until then though....


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goalie Trouble??

Out of all the possible problems facing the Bears this season I didn't think one of them would be their starting goalie. But I think it is.

Michal Neuvirth had an amazing postseason last year on his way to playoff MVP. Then he followed that up with an impressive camp where he almost beat out Semyon Varlamov for the backup role in Washington until he got hurt.

And then he got sent to Hershey.

In Hershey....Neuvy is struggling. Sure the defense hasn't been stellar and have given up plenty of easy chances to the opposition. But guess what...the same defense has been playing in front of Braden Holtby and Jason Bacashihua as well and they are still playing well.

It looks like Neuvy is one of two things...upset about being in Hershey and not playing to the best of his abilities OR he is overconfident and getting beat because of it.

I think it is the second option. I think Neuvy came down to Hershey after a great camp against NHL players and a great postseason and thought it was going to be easy. He is a young kid who played his first pro hockey last season. So those thoughts are to be somewhat expected. But now he has to realize that it isn't easy and he needs to bring his A game every single time out on the ice.

Hopefully we will see that happen sooner or later. I am sure the organization is hoping to see it as he is expected to backup Varly in Washington next season.

If he doesn't figure it out soon I would expect to see a lot more of Bacashihua for a while.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bears get back in win column

While it shouldn't have been as difficult as it was the Bears managed to beat the Portland Pirates last night 3-2. Jason Bacashihua picked up his 2nd win of the season as he made 21 saves while Francois Bouchard (3rd), Andrew Gordon (6th), and Steve Pinizzotto (2nd) scored for Hershey.

But offensively it should have been easier. Portland has given up the most goals in the league this season and is dead last in penalty killing. Yet Hershey couldn't get the puck in the net. And it wasn't that they weren't shooting enough or running into a hot goaltender...nope it was accuracy. In a game of 3-bar the Bears won with no competition. They hit (by my count) at least 4 posts and not one of those misses bounced in.

I would say this is a step in the right direction though. For the past few games I watched guys miss the net entirely even when it was wide open. So to see them hit so many posts means to me that they are getting closer to actually scoring goals again.

So the offense is on the right track (kinda) but what about the defense?

Not quite as close. I hate to call him out as he has already turned into the scapegoat amongst fans (much like Sloan last year) but Patrick McNeill struggled last night at both ends of the rink. I thought he made some good plays too but goal #1 for the Pirates is honestly squarely on the shoulders of Patty. He didn't get back in time and his guy got the goal.

But the entire defense struggled yet again. I thought with Bryan Helmer sitting that you might see an improved unit but it wasn't too be. John Carlson struggled last night as well. And he looked tired. I know it was a 3 in 3 but he better get used to them as they happen regularly at this level.

The thing Carlson does that evens out his play is his offensive game. He jumps up on the rush and puts pressure on the opposing defense and he is good at it. But he needs to be careful at times and pick his spots a little more. Thankfully he plays with Karl Alzner who would rather sit back and play in his own end and doesn't get caught up ice too often. Which allows Carlson to roam a little more.

Overall I just thought the defense got caught flat footed time and time again. Everyone did it. They were just a step behind the Pirates on every play in the first 2 periods. And then in the 3rd period the team dominated play and eventually got the game winner (on a short handed shot) from Pinner.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Steve Pinizzotto - game winner while short handed and overall a good game
  2. Kyle Wilson - one assist and a game high 8 shots...played between Gordo and Flash and looked good
  3. Francois Bouchard - the 'Soph' line was great throughout the night and he had the lone goal

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B | Honestly I think a B might be a bit high but they did get 35 shots and 3 goals. Still missing chances and just getting by without their top offensive threats. Last night it seemed like they were trying to make too many of the 'pretty' passes instead of putting the puck on net and getting traffic in front.
  • Defense | C | A couple decent plays but overall sloppy and slow I thought. Carlson looked tired, Alzner almost got caught a couple times but managed to work out of it, Miscovic and McNeill struggled positionally, Ammo almost took himself out of multiple plays going for the hit, and Collins actually didn't play terribly but I am sure he struggled somewhere. NEEDS MORE CONSISTENCY.
  • Goaltending | B+ | Cash made multiple big games and really on the two goals his defense let him out to dry a bit. I will say this....looked better than Neuvy.
  • Power Play | C+ | Some pressure and some decent shots but too much looking for the extra pass and not enough getting the puck at the net.
  • Penalty Kill | B+ | Got saved a couple times by Cash but they played well as they killed off all 5 chances.
  • Overall | B | One thing I noticed last night....Portland communicates better than Hershey. There was MINIMAL conversation and communicating happening in the first 2 periods. Then in the third you started hearing more from the Bears and they started playing better. It was almost like when things were rough they didn't talk but when things were going good they communicated fine. It needs to be consistent and more communication is needed when your struggling.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Bears vs Sens yet again

For the 3rd straight Saturday night the Bears and Binghamton Senators will meet on the ice. Hershey has managed to win the previous two and will be looking to make up for last nights poor game against the Pens.

Both of the previous games against Bingo have been played in Bingo. Two weeks ago the Bears won 8-1 and then last Saturday night they won in overtime 3-2. Tonight will be the first meeting of the teams in Hershey this season.

Entering the season the Senators were expected to challenge for the division title but so far that team hasn't appeared. They currently sit in 7th (also known as last) in the East division and have lost six straight.

They have only held teams to fewer than 3 goals once this season, which they won. They have allowed 4 goals in each of their last 2 games, at Rochester on Wednesday and last night at Syracuse.

If Bingo has many hopes of winning the division they need to fix whatever ails them.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 4-3-0-0 8 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 6-4 Loss @ Wilkes-Barre, 10/23
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 1-1-0-0
goals for ~ 23
goals against ~14
power play ~ 17.1% (17th)
penalty kill ~ 87.5% (8th)

Binghamton Senators
record ~ 2-4-2-0 6 points
standings ~ 7th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Syracuse, 10/23
last 5 games ~ 0-3-2-0
road record ~ 0-2-1-0
goals for ~ 24
goals against ~ 33
power play ~ 8.3% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 76.7% (23rd)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in overtime last Saturday against the Sens.

Players to watch:


RW Francois Bouchard (22)- Was last night the turning point with 2 goals or will he fall back into the shadows tonight? As talented as any player on the Hershey roster but consistency is not in his game right now.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - With Aucoin and Giroux still in Washington (or New York for today) this is his chance to stand out from everyone else. A very talented goal scoring center he needs to step up.
RW Darren Reid (19) - When will he get his chance on a top line? When he gets the chances he produces (3 goals this season).


C Martin St. Pierre (39) - A premier offensive player in the AHL leads the team with 1o points (4 goals, 6 assists).
RW Ryan Keller (28) - Leading the team in goals (5) and in plus/minus (+5).
C Cody Bass (16) - Hopefully he gets to play tonight as he is a ridiculous -11 after only 8 games. That is 5 worse than any other Senator.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Bears can't quite complete the comeback

The Hershey offense couldn't quite make up for the defensive and goaltending lapses tonight against the Baby Pens. After giving up only 8 goals in their first 6 games they gave up 6 goals tonight and could only muster 4 goals scored.

Everyone lining up on the blue line for the Bears tonight EXCEPT Karl Alzner struggled mightily and yes that includes wonder kid John Carlson. Of particular concern was Bryan Helmer who was out of position for more than one of the Wilkes Barre goals tonight. He was paired up with rookie Zach Miscovic so maybe it was a case of him trying to cover too much for the rook but either way he struggled to stay in position.

But he wasn't the only one as each of the Bears defenders struggled at times. And the goaltending was shaky at best in my opinion. The first goal by Ryan Bayda absolutely should have been stopped and honestly it just didn't look like Neuvirth was focused for much of the night. Honestly it seems as though Neuvirth is still suffering from a bit of send-down-itis after not making the Caps out of camp.

The best goaltender I have seen for the Bears this season was hands down Braden Holtby. He seemed to want it more than Neuvy has so far. Not sure what it is but Neuvy seems a bit over confident maybe.

The offense managed to give the team a chance with a few fluky goals in the 3rd. Francois Bouchard scored his first 2 goals of the season to lead Hershey while Darren Reid (3rd) and Andrew Gordon (5th) added the other 2.

It was an exciting game between the I-81 rivals but I thought the Pens absolutely outplayed Hershey tonight. If it wasn't for a couple fluke goals Hershey would have lost this game 5-2 or worse.

Missed chances, poor positioning, and inconsistent goaltending doomed the team from the opening faceoff.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Luca Caputi - 2 goals and an assist
  2. Ryan Bayda - 1 goal and an assist but was overall responsible for eventual game winner as he screened Neuvy completely
  3. Francois Bouchard - tried to keep Hershey in with 2 goals

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B | They finished with 33 shots and 4 goals and it wasn't enough. It looked more like last years Bears team instead of the team we saw for the first 6 games this year. They had lots of chances and open looks but missed the net repeatedly. Carlson, Matheiu Perreault, and Oskar Osala all missed open nets at one point or another. You can't miss great chances like that and expect to win.
  • Defense | D | Not sure what happened tonight but the defense absolutely fell apart. Helmer in particular was terrible in my opinion. He was out of position on a couple goals and on the game winner by Lovejoy he didn't move Bayda from the front of the net. Didn't even touch him. But Helmer wasn't the only one. Miscovic, Greg Amadio, and Carlson all struggled in their own end tonight.
  • Goaltending | C | Neuvirth made some absolutely remarkable saves and then let in some real bad goals. The first goal by Bayda was probably the worst to me as it was just a wrist shot with minimum traffic in front that just beat him high glove side. The defense is partly responsible for the goal totals but not a great outing for Neuvy.
  • Power Play | B- | 5 chances yielded no goals tonight. The unit ran hot and cold tonight. Sometimes they set up and got tons of pressure and other times they chased the Penguins in the defensive zone.
  • Penalty Kill | D | This had to have been last seasons units out there tonight. Sloppy play, too much chasing, not enough taking the body down low. They only had 2 chances but they looked terrible on both.
  • Overall | C | Probably the worst outing so far this year. They managed to get some goals but they couldn't stop anything. They hustled tonight and never gave up but it isn't always enough. Positioning and knowing where the opponents are is probably the most important part of hockey and tonight the Hershey defense lost touch with those parts of their game.


Bears head north to play Penguins

I haven't been around as much as I have wanted to be this season but I haven't missed any games and have been paying very close attention to the team even though I haven't been posting here as much. One reason for the lack of posting is that I am writing at 2 other sites for the Bears/Caps now too. Come check out my page on the Hershey Bears. Both sites generally have original content from me a few times each week.

Now on to this weekends games.

Tonight the Bears return to the ice in Wilkes Barre against the Penguins. Unfortunately it looks like the Bears will be going into this game without top center Keith Aucoin and leading scorer Alexandre Giroux as both players are currently up in the NHL with the Capitals. Both guys played last night and congratulations to Giroux on getting a goal and to Aucoin for assisting on that goal.

Here is an interesting stat for you this year...after their 6 games the Bears have allowed the fewest goals in the league with only 8 allowed. In no game has the opposition scored more than 2 goals. Considering that last years team allowed the 8th most goals in the league and the highest among playoff teams this start is all the more impressive. In the first 6 games of 08-09 the Bears gave up 20 goals. That's some serious improvement.

It also speaks to this teams struggles offensively that they have actually lost two of those games and needed overtime to win another one. In the entire 08-09 season the Bears lost exactly 2 games when they held the opponent to 2 goals or less. So they have already managed to lose as many of those games as all of last season. It basically comes down to the offense...they just aren't scoring as much. It isn't a problem right now but it could develop into one.

Tonight is the 2nd of 12 meetings between the I-81 rivals this year. We covered previously how different the Baby Pens look this season and it is showing in their stats too. They are 4th in the division with a 3-2 record but have only scored 15 goals in their 5 games.

So 2 teams that dominated offensively last season are having trouble scoring early this season. One reason for this might be the scattered scheduling. When you have a week off between games it is hard to really get and stay in a rhythm. But it doesn't get too much better for the Bears going forward. They only have 3 mid-week games in 2009.

Which means they better figure out a way to stay on top of their game throughout the week. Hopefully we will see the secondary scoring pick up the slack tonight in Wilkes Barre.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 4-2-0-0 8 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 OT Win @ Binghamton, 10/17
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 3-1-0-0
goals for ~ 19
goals against ~8
power play ~ 20.0% (12th)
penalty kill ~ 90.9% (5th)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
record ~ 3-2-0-0 6 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Win vs Syracuse, 10/17
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 2-2-0-0
goals for ~ 15
goals against ~ 13
power play ~ 24.0% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 87.0% (8th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-0 at the Pens two weeks ago (10/9).

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10)- With Giroux up in Washington the Bears second leading scorer needs to step it up and get a goal or two.
D John Carlson (4) - If neither guy returns from Washington before tonight then Carlson will be the second leading point producer for the Bears tonight. He has a goal and 4 assists this season and has been solid in his own end.
C Jay Beagle (21) - He was centering the top line at practice this past week when Coiner got the call so all guesses are he will center the top line although without Giroux who is the left wing on that line anyhow?


RW Chris Conner (23) - Pens newcomer is leading the team with 6 points (2g, 4a) through 5 games.
C Dustin Jeffrey (21) - Not scoring goals yet this season but assists are just as good and he has 5 of them.
LW Ryan Bayda (37) - Another of the newcomers is leading the team with 3 goals in only 4 games this season.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bears win 3-2 in OT

The Bears got back on track in Binghamton last night with a 3-2 victory in overtime over the Sens. In a game where the Bears took a team record 27 shots in a period (2nd) they struggled to beat Andy Chiodo one week after lighting him up for 6 goals in 2 periods. Chiodo continually went down early and flailed around on the ice to make stops. The Bears definitely did a better job getting pucks on net with a total of 44 shots but they still missed opportunities.

Scoring is beginning to become a question for the Bears. Prior to the signing of Alexandre Giroux there was a lot of question on where the goals would come from. Once he was signed it was just expected that he would provide the difference. But he is unlikely to hit 60 goals again during the regular season (although after 2 more goals last night he has 4 already). At this point it looks like losing Graham Mink and his 32 goals and Chris Bourque and his 21 goals is going to be difficult to replace.

Hershey didn't really bring in any proven scorers to replace those 53 goals. They just decided to continue to develop from within and give other players increased minutes. Guys like Andrew Gordon, Steve Pinizzotto, Kyle Wilson, and Oskar Osala need to pick up the slack.

Not having Keith Aucoin for the past couple of games surely hurts the offense and he is likely to return at some point this week BUT if the Caps can ever trade Nylander he might be called up to Washington on a permanent basis.

One thing for sure is that the defense is better then last years unit. With both Karl Alzner and John Carlson on the blueline along with improved players such as Patrick McNeill and Sean Collins this is going to be a tough team to score against this season. And most of the defensemen can contribute offensively as well.

Okay...the offense has struggled a bit the past 3 games but the game before that they scored 8 goals so it is obviously a little early to sound any alarms but it is something to keep an eye on. I think this team will benefit from more frequent line changes this season as opposed to how things went last year. In 08-09 Coach Woods kept the top 2 lines together all season barring injury which worked out. But with Mink gone there is no true #1 right wing and with Bourque gone there is no true #2 left wing. So rotating guys through the lines will work better then it would have last season.

Any way you look at it the Bears are 4-2 with all 4 wins coming in the East division. Not to shabby to start the season.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Alexandre Giroux - 2 goals to lead the team and win the game
  2. Trevor Bruess - no points and only 2 shots but created chances consistently
  3. Andy Chiodo - made plenty of big saves among his 41

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B+ | Definitely did much better getting shots but still they missed plenty of opportunities. Chiodo wanted to go down early if there were bodies near him but plenty of Hershey shots came without traffic in front. Could have been better but not bad.
  • Defense | B | The stat line says 36 shots against but it didn't seem like that many. Carlson scored his first regular season goal and Alzner is an absolute stalwart on the blue line. Miscovic looked like the rookie he is at times last season. And Ammo sounded pretty good on the radio!
  • Goaltending | B | Neuvirth has looked a little lackadaisical in net the past 2 nights. Honestly I think Holtby looked MUCH more impressive in his starts than Neuvy. After missing a few weeks with an injury he is probably just working at getting into a rhythm.
  • Power Play | B | 1 for 4 for the night with Carlson picking up the goal. Lots of pressure, good shots, nice job positionally. BUT they should have scored more.
  • Penalty Kill | B | Killed off 3 of 4 which is okay. Seem to be chasing a little more than anyone would like to see them chase. Staying in their box is the key to any PK unit and Hershey needs to do this better.
  • Overall | B | Good game, not great. Too many shots against, too many wasted shots for. Better than Friday night though for sure.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bears Drop 2nd Straight

After opening up with 3 straight wins over divisional foes the Bears have dropped 2 straight by the score of 2-1. Last Sunday night Manchester came into Hershey and just flat out played the Bears. In that game it seemed as though the Bears were overlooking the Monarchs and weren't ready to play while the Monarchs were looking forward to the game.

Last night was a different story though. Visiting Glens Falls, New York for the first time to play the Phantoms, Hershey actually out played Adirondack. But they couldn't get the goals. According to the score sheet Hershey out shot the Phantoms 27-15 and that is probably pretty accurate in describing the play. Although I am not convinced Hershey actually got 27 shots on goal.

Defensively it was as good a game as the guys have played this season. Only allowing 15 shots is impressive against any team and few of those 15 shots were quality attempts. Offensively it was a different story though. Too much passing and excellent defense by the Phantoms managed to keep the Bears from getting more than their 1 goal.

With center Keith Aucoin getting playing time in Washington with the injury to Boyd Gordon, Mathieu Perreault joined the top line and played well. Every time the Bears got pressure though they seemed to want to make the extra pass instead of just shooting. Most of those 27 shots were just little tap ins from right in front.

But I will give credit where it is due. The Phantoms defense forced many of those passes and broke up many of them too. And goaltender Johan Backlund played very well making a few big saves and keeping his team in the game.

It was one of those games where Hershey was obviously the better team and played like it but couldn't get the bounces. These games happen during a season, the key does the team come out the next time? Well we get to find out about Hershey immediately as they play in Binghamton tonight.

Expect to see a much more determined group on both sides as Hershey wants to get back in the win column and the Senators will want to respond to the 8-1 beating Hershey put on them last weekend.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Johan Backlund - 26 saves, none spectacular but more than enough
  2. Phantoms Defense - constant pressure kept Hershey away from their goalie
  3. Jay Beagle - I thought he was the best Bear on the ice last night

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B- | Not a terrible performance. Consistent pressure, some nice passing, great hustle. But too many passes and not enough shooting doomed this team last night. The Phantoms defense didn't help either as they pressured the Bears forwards all night long.
  • Defense | A | I know the Phantoms scored 2 but they only got 15 shots and honestly I can't remember them getting much pressure at all. The 2nd goal was the fault of Darren Reid. He went for a big hit (and made it) but in the process he left his man skate right down and score behind him.
  • Goaltending | B | Michal Neuvirth made his season debut and he surely didn't look bad but he didn't get enough work to really get in a rhythm either.
  • Power Play | B- | Not bad. Much like the offense overall...consistent pressure, good possession, hustle. But too many passes and not enough shots.
  • Penalty Kill | D | To be honest I missed the Phantoms first goal as I was away from the computer for a minute and thanks to an extremely old building with no replay board I was unable to see it but the PK unit only had 1 chance and they dropped the ball.
  • Overall | B- | As I said above...Hershey was the better team last night but they couldn't get enough of the bounces.