What a night in Hershey!!! Some many things happened and it is just a good time to be a Bears fan!
Let's start with this....54!!! Alexandre Giroux set a new Hershey Bears single season scoring record last night scoring twice to pass the previous record set by Tony Cassoloto in 1983. Unreal. Giroux's parents were in attendance and it was awesome to see him break the record at home.
The most amazing thing about the record is the consistency that he has shown all season. Most people would probably think that in order to get 54 in 62 you would have to have had multiple hat tricks. Not Giroux...he only has ONE hat trick all season. That is unbelievable consistency from a scorer on any level.
Congrats Giroux!!! Great season....but there is still work left to be done.
One thing that is getting overlooked is Keith Aucoin and his quest for 100 points. Coiner scored 2 goals last night AND assisted on 3 more. Giving him 94 points on the season with 7 games to go. His career best is 99 points which he achieved in Albany 2 years ago. Coiner is having just as impressive a season as Giroux and unfortunately for him it is getting overlooked somewhat.
You know what though...if the Bears keep producing like they have the past 2 nights Hershey could have TWO 100 point producers. Alexandre Giroux is at 89 right now. So he has a few more to get but it is surely doable right now.
We haven't even talked about what that win meant in the standings yet. Hershey now has a commanding lead over Bridgeport as they are 5 points up with 1 game against and a game in hand on the Sound Tigers. Add to that the Bears lead Wilkes Barre/Scranton by 7 points and have 3 games remaining head to head with the hate Penguins.
Wow...this team has just turned it on over the past few weeks and there is NOT a hotter team in the league right now. The Bears have won 5 in a row and 7 of 8 and are dominating the teams they will face in the playoffs.
And did I mention that Minker recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick?? Yeah, Minker had a goal, an assist, and a fight! Unfortunately that fight might have cost him as he injured his hand and was scheduled to get x-rays last night.
Oh and Simeon Varlamov returned to Hershey last night and played beautifully in goal stopping 38 of the 40 shots fired at him. Impressive for a guy who hadn't been involved in a real game for a couple of weeks. But Bears Nation don't get to excited, he will be heading back to Washington shortly. He was only down for the weekend cause the Caps don't have any games and he hasn't had much work.
More feel good stories from last night:
- Staffon Kronwall absolutely drilled a guy last night. His open ice hit was HUGE and knocked a Sound Tiger out of the game. I thought it was Colliton but Tim Leone wrote in his piece that it was Bentivoglio. Either way he didn't return.
- The power play unit was unstoppable last night as they scored on their first 4 chances. And they could have had more but Woods called off the dogs in the third and had guys like Brennan and Pinner playing with the extra man.
- Chris Bourque notched his 20th goal of the season. That gives the Bears 7 different 20+ goal scorers. That is amazing. And for any team the Bears face in the playoffs....who do you key on??
On to tonight's game. Last night was very emotional and energy charged from the Bears, now they need to duplicate that tonight against the visiting Penguins.
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Keith Aucoin - 2 goals and 3 assists gets you the star even if a guy breaks a record
- Alexandre Giroux - 2 goals and 2 assists is damn good
- Simeon Varlamov - 38 saves AND an assist last night
Grading the Performance:
- Overall - A - I am not going to go into each unit and give specifics. This team just scored 7 goals on 26 shots! That is the absolute definition of efficiency as it relates to hockey. You can't ask for a better performance. I spent some time on here the past few games saying the power play needed to be better and WOW that is what I call better. Even the penalty kill was okay. I probably wouldn't have given them an A but they did pretty good.
Jay Beagle is a BEAST on the PK. A couple years ago Dave Steckel was basically a one man penalty killing machine in the postseason and right now I would say Jay Beagle is getting close to that point. Stecks had the advantage of the long reach but I don't think there is a tougher player on the Bears roster than Jay Beagle. He does whatever is asked of him night in night out and plays 100% full speed every shift. He is willing to drop the gloves and does the dirty work in the corners better than anyone else on the team. Last night he was doing it again on the PK by possessing the puck along the boards and fighting off 3 different Sound Tigers to keep possession. Good job Beagle, keep up the hard work.
Good Game Bears!!! Now let's do the same thing tonight against the Pens!
LET'S GO BEARS!!!