With a big win in Toronto last night the Bears held onto their 2 point lead in the division. Now they had to Cleveland to play the Lake Erie Monsters, a team that is very hot right now. Lake Erie has won 7 of their last 8 games overall and has won 9 of their last 11 at home. So Hershey is walking into a building where the home team is playing very well.
Simeon Varlamov made his return to the lineup last night so I would expect to see Daren Machesney in net tonight so they don't push Varly's knee too much too soon. So Cheese is going to have to make some big saves.
Former Bear Matt Hendricks is leading the Monsters charge over the past couple weeks. On the season he has played only 31 games and has only registered 11 goals and 11 assists but 6 of those goals have come in the past 6 games. Included in that is 2 goals and 1 assist in last night's win over Rochester.
After a good performance last night from the Bears they need to turn it around and get ready for another tough game. Staffon Kronwall and Brian Pothier both looked very good last night and are steady influences on the blue line for Hershey. Kronwall will likely remain in Hershey for the duration of the season but so long as Pothier stays healthy he will be in Washington in a week or so.
If you are scoreboard watching here are the games to keep an eye on.
Hartford at Bridgeport - 4:00 start
Norfolk at Wilkes Barre - 5:05
record ~ 40-17-1-5 84 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
playoff positioning - 2 points ahead of 2nd place
most recent game ~ 6-1 Win @ Toronto, 3/7
last 5 games ~ 3-0-1-1
road record ~ 18-9-1-3
goals for ~ 244
goals against ~192
power play ~ 18.7% (8th)
penalty kill ~ 79.4% (29th)
Lake Erie Monsters
record ~ 29-30-1-5 64 points
standings ~ 6th in North Division
playoff positioning ~ 5 points behind 4th
most recent game ~ 6-2 Win vs Rochester, 3/7
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 18-11-1-2
goals for ~ 162
goals against ~ 169
power play ~ 11.7% (29th)
penalty kill ~ 82.3% (17th)
last time teams met - Hershey won in a shootout 3-2 on December 21 in Hershey.
Players to watch:
C Keith Aucoin (11)- He had a goal and 2 assists to extend his point streak to 14 games. And his linemates are producing as well which shows how well he is playing.
RW Graham Mink (21) - He is on a 5 game scoring streak after scoring a goal last night. During the streak he has 6 goals and 5 assists.
Rookie Line - They aren't producing as consistently or as much as they were early in the season but in the last 6 games they have combined for 4 goals and 7 assists.
LW Chris Durno (25) - He is the team leader in points (36) and tied for the lead in goals with 14. In his last 4 games he has 1 goal and 3 assists.
C Philippe Dupuis (9) - Tied for the team lead in goals with 14 and is 2nd in points with 34. He has 3 goals and 6 assists in his last 7 games.
C Matt Hendricks (16) - The former Bear has been playing very well of late. Overall he has 11 goals and 11 assists in 31 games but in his last 6 games he has 6 goals and 2 assists including 2 goals and an assist last night.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!