The Bears came away with a 3-2 victory over Wilkes Barre for the first time since well the first game of the season. They had lost 5 straight to the Baby Penguins since then. But last night the team came together for a great performance.
Graham Mink scored 2 goals (29th and 30th) and Grant McNeill picked up his 2nd of the season as the Bears built a 3-0 lead. And as it turns out they needed all 3 of those goals. WB/S came within whiskers of tying the game in the third period but the Bears defense picked up their play to help the team get the win.
For weeks I have been complaining about the defensive play in Hershey but last night was EASILY the best that unit has played. I would love to take those 6 guys into the playoffs. But unfortunately what you are seeing will probably end up just being a mirage. Karl Alzner and Brian Pothier will more than likely be in Washington for the playoffs. So get your fill of them now.
Simeon Varlamov started in goal for the 4th straight game and was spectacular. I wonder though, does his heart beat incredibly fast when he finds himself way out of position? He is always so active and I know my heart is beating faster when he challenges so much and gets caught. The Pens didn't score on any of those but I know that it makes me tense anyway. Do you think it even fazes him??
Either way he played great, the offense played great, and the defense played great. I was impressed and I am expecting to see the same thing this evening when Bridgeport comes to play.
Oh and in case you didn't know, Bridgeport lost last night so if the Bears win in regulation tonight they reclaim the top spot in the division. GO BEARS!!!!
My Three Stars of the Game:
- Graham Mink - 2 goals and he was killing people all night. Way to step up Minker!!
- Jay Beagle - he had 1 assist but he played the whole night. Great hustle!
- Simeon Varlamov - made some HUGE saves and was solid all night long
Grading the Performance:
- Offense - B+ - I think the only knock on the game last night is the lack of shots. They finished the game with 22 of them which isn't enough. But they made them count. I would rather score 3 goals on 22 shots than 2 on 45 which they have done. Oh and keep in mind that EVERY GOAL last night was from RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE NET!! That is how you win in the playoffs and last night was as close to playoff hockey as you can get in the regular season.
- Defense - B+ - There were a couple minor lapses, one that led to a goal, but for the most part this unit was on top of their game. You aren't going to see perfect games so for only a couple of lapses I think it was pretty good. I still want to see Sami realize that he is NOT MIKE GREEN and stop jumping into the offensive zone so much. You don't see Helmer or Alzner doing that do you?
- Goaltending - A - Varly played a great game. He ended up with 29 saves and many of them were great. The first goal was maybe stoppable but he might not have seen it as there were many bodies in front of him. But the second goal was a perfect tip in and not many goalies, if any, would have gotten it.
- Power Play - C - I know they scored once but this unit was largely ineffective all game. There were multiple power plays where I don't think they had any shots. And in the first they had a 4 minute chance and didn't do much. Not having Keith Aucoin on the ice really hurt the power play unit I think.
- Penalty Kill - B - They allowed a goal which isn't great but this unit also played very well. They were mixing it up and clearing pucks that were left laying. Dean Arsene was trying to block every single shot and everyone on these units worked together and killed off 5 different power plays.
- Overall - B+ - Very good game. Not perfect and not their best of the season. But if this is how they are going to play in the postseason I am confident and excited. Playoff hockey is about grit, determination, and hustle. And this team showed that last night. Their hustle was previously unmatched in many games as they got to all the loose pucks and cycled the puck exceptionally all game. Good game guys....now do it again tonight!!!
Oh and the 4th line of Pinner, Joudrey, and GMac deserves a special shout out. You guys might have been the BEST line on the ice last night. You earned playing time and you made the most of it. Good game fellas!!!
LET'S GO BEARS!!!