Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bears score 8 more last night while Albany visits tonight

Last night in Wilkes Barre the Bears continued their offensive assault on the rest of the AHL. Needing just about every one of those goals to win Hershey won their 6th in row and 18th out of the past 19 as the Pens scored 6 on Braden Holtby to stay in the game.

That was only the second time this season that Hershey has given up 6 goals. The first time was in Wilkes Barre as well back in October when the Pens won 6-4.

I didn't get to see the game but from reading some of the quotes and recap in the paper this morning it seems that the Bears defensive game (as well as the Pens) was nonexistent. Holtby faced 32 shots and was personally not all that upset about 5 of the 6 he allowed.

"Actually, I didn't feel too bad," Holtby said. "The only goal that I really want back is the 5th goal, I believe. It's just one of those nights where every bounce didn't go our way defensively."

Considering how the entire team had been playing of late they were surely due for a slight let down. Fortunately for the Bears the offense didn't have a letdown and managed to carry the team to victory yet again.

The 8 goal game means in the last 6 games Hershey has scored 45 goals while giving up only 20. Considering 6 of those 20 came last night I would say that they are doing okay.

Tonight the Albany River Rats come to Hershey for the first time since Halloween night. That night Hershey beat the Rats 4-1. Since then Albany has won 2 and Hershey won the most recent as the season series stands at 2-2.

Albany currently sits in 2nd place in the East division, 15 points behind Hershey and 10 points ahead of 3rd place Adirondack.

This will be the Rats 4th straight road game and 5th in the last 6 games. They are playing well right now (on the road at least) as they have won all 4 of those games including 3 straight.

Friday, January 29, 2010

What Bears Fans Do

There is a game tonight but due to time constraints I won't have a preview up today...instead please read John Walton's post from yesterday about Bears fan Jason Hartle:


Late Wednesday night, not long after watching Washington take apart the Anaheim Ducks in the third period for another Red, White and Blue victory, I received an e-mail from Heather Faulhefer, a reporter from the Evening Sun newspaper in Hanover. She brought a story to my attention and an appeal for help from a fellow Bears fan that has been dealt a cruel setback.

The link to the article is here, and it documents better than I can the recent struggles of Jason Hartle. Jason is a Bears fan from York Springs, and even though he has cerebral palsy, he doesn’t let that stop him from an active lifestyle that includes coming to see the Bears play at Giant Center. He was last to a game on December 6 when Hershey played Hartford, and has not been to a game since because his handicapped-accessible van was stolen from his home the next day. If you’re like me, this story will put a lump in your throat. I can’t believe anyone would sink so low as to steal a handicapped-accessible van from someone, but that is the sad reality of this story. We can’t control bad things that happen to people. But what happens next, we in Bears Nation do control, and on behalf of all of us, Jason, we’re going to make this right.

I spoke with Heather this afternoon, and learned that Jason has a downpayment on a replacement van, but is about $3,000 short due to a shortfall in his insurance when his van was taken from him. I ask those who read this site daily to help Jason out this weekend at Giant Center. I’ve already spoken to Cathy Rynard from the Hershey Bears Booster Club, and the HBBC will have a place at their table (outside section 117 at Giant Center) to accept donations for Jason. As noted in the article here, there has been a special account at Members 1st Federal Credit Union created for Jason, if it’s easier for you to make a donation directly there. If neither of these options work for you, drop me a note at and we can make some other kind of arrangement.

I posted this article late last night on Facebook and Twitter, and already have received many e-mails and inquiries about it. To those who already plan to give to help Jason out, we thank you very much for your support. To those reading this for the first time, please consider a donation at the HBBC table this weekend. Ten dollars, five dollars, or even just a dollar, we can make this happen for him by this time next week, and that in my mind is the goal. You’ll be helping out a big Bears fan get back to the games he loves so much.

We’ve got your back, Jason. That’s what Bears fans do.

Here is something from John Walton seems that many have come out in support of Jason:


It's been a pretty moving 24 hours seeing the response to Hershey and Washington fans about Jason Hartle and his story. Not only have I received a lot of e-mail from Bears fans confirming their donations either the home games this weekend or at a Members 1st Federal Credit Union (to the "Jason Hartle Mobility Fund" if you're out and about today), but I've also gotten several notes from fans in D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia, asking what they can do if they're not coming to games and they are without a place to donate. For anyone that fits that description, drop me a note at and we'll make arrangements for you. My thanks to the D.C. blogging community for picking up this story from me and posting it so the folks that "Rock the Red" hear about Jason's story.

Again, the Hershey Bears Booster Club will be accepting donations for Jason at this weekend's games at Giant Center. Their table is behind section 117 on the concourse. Cash or check is good, with checks made payable to "Jason Hartle Mobility Fund". If you're near any Members 1st Federal Credit Union here in central PA, you can go there and make your donation directly if you like. I will be featuring Jason and his story on the broadcast tonight at intermission as well.

Thanks to everyone who has donated so far, and again, if it's ten dollars, five dollars, even a dollar, it's all very much appreciated and will help Jason get back to the games again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Caps Weekly

Our weekly look at what's going on with the Bears NHL affiliate in Washington....

Varlamov still injured

Washington goalie Semyon Varlamov is still out with an injury. A few weeks ago he made a conditioning start in Hershey were he suffered another injury, one that has kept him out since then. Until he is ready to return Michal Neuvirth will remain in Washington as a spot starter and as Jose Theodore's backup. An injury that was supposed to only last a week or two is now into its fourth week and is putting his Olympic team spot in jeopardy.

Theodore playing great

Since Varly went down and Neuvirth struggled a bit Theodore has been dominant. He has won 5 straight games, allowing only 9 goals in those games, and a ridiculous .944 save percentage. Early in the season it seemed that Theodore was going to be Varly's backup most of the season but now with Varly losing ground every day he can't go it looks more and more like he will be the #1 for the rest of the season. And with Varly's injury history can the Caps really commit to him for next season as the #1 without another top option?

Winning ways

Last week saw the Caps beat the last 2 Eastern and Western conference champions, Pittsburgh and Detroit. Then they beat the upstart Coyotes Saturday night to go 3-0 for the week and extending their winning streak to 6 games. In their last 10 they have won 9 and are back to being the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference in addition to having a 19 point lead within the division.

Line continuity

Coach Bruce Boudreau generally fiddles with his lines for months during the season before finally settling on something for the playoffs. But for the past 23 days and 10 games he has used the same lines for every game. Once Jason Chimera joined the team and Tomas Fleischmann was moved to center the lines haven't changed and it has worked for the Caps. During that span the Caps have scored 4.9 goals per game including 3.3 per game at even strength...very impressive.

Kovalchuk rumors

Around the league Washington is still considered the odds on favorite to land Ilya Kovalchuk before the trade deadline. The latest rumors have them trading Alexander Semin for him although most people feel as that would be unlikely. Other teams that were thought to be interested are dropping out, the Leafs, Flames, Avs, Pens and Bruins were all rumored at least once to be interested but have now said no way. It is really coming down to a few teams and the Caps seem to have the most interest.

Upcoming week

The Caps have a busy 4 games in the next 6 days. Fortunately 3 of those games are at home and none of the games feature teams currently in playoff position.

Tonight - @ NY Islanders
Tomorrow - vs Anaheim
Friday - vs Florida
Sunday - vs Tampa Bay

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bears again score 8 against Moose

I don't even know what to say anymore. I mean for the second straight game the Bears scored 8 goals in a completely dominating performance.

It all started when Manitoba got an early goal (about 1 minute in). Hershey did not take that well and decided to drop the hammer on the Moose. From then on the game was not in question. It was almost like the Moose players were standing still on half the plays.

This team is playing with extreme confidence and there is nothing that can derail them right now except themselves. Over confidence would be a worry for many teams but there are 2 reasons that I see to prevent that from being an issue....

One is the veteran leadership on this team. Add to that the fact that they all played together last season when they did hit some slumps. They know how it can fall apart and they seem to be fighting against it.

The second reason is the depth. Even if a line like Gordon, Giroux, and Aucoin were to come out and struggle for a few minutes there are 3 more lines to pick up the slack. The Bourque, Perreault, and Bouchard line is humming along playing exceptionally as are the other two lines with guys like Beagle, Wilson, Kane, Pinizzotto, Joudrey, and Osala.

And then there is the defense and goaltending. No offense to Daren Machesney but last season he was a liability for Hershey. When he was in net the defense couldn't rely on him. Braden Holtby however is a goalie that you can rely on. He makes every stop he can, gets in the opposing forwards faces, and is always ready to play.

Honestly I have been following this team very closely over the past 3 seasons since I started this blog and there is no way that at any point in that time they were playing this good. It is just phenomenal to watch the play at both ends. I mean it literally looks like the opposing players are just standing there and watching.

Last night on a power play, not sure the period but I think the second, I watched Giroux (I think it was him) skate complete circles around the offensive zone with no Moose players catching him before he found a place to shoot or pass from.

The passing last night was ridiculous. You aren't supposed to be able to do what they did against that level of competition. Yet the Bears did it and they made it look easy.

This is not a team that you can knock out early with an opening minute goal. That only fires them up even more. This is a team that thrives on another teams intensity. The more the other team is ready to play the better Hershey seems to play.

14 straight home wins. Multiple players getting ready to tie or break career bests in scoring. 4 of the last 5 games have seen 7+ goals. They have won 17 of their last 18 games.

And all this without the goalie that started the season as the reigning playoff MVP and the Bears #1, Michal Neuvirth.

How can you stop a team this balanced? Last year the defense and goaltending were known weaknesses. Teams were able to exploit them on occasion and get some wins. Last years team went through a couple patches where the top line was the only line to score.

This year...none of that.

Last year Giroux had 97 points while Aucoin had 96. This year both are on pace to break 100 points, Aucoin would get 116 while Giroux would get 110 if they play in all the remaining games and average the same points per game they have now.

To another franchise looking in here it can't even seem fair. You aren't supposed to be this good in the minor leagues. And it isn't like there are loads of veterans and a shortage of prospects on this team. Gordon, Bouchard, Bourque, Perreault, Wilson, Osala, Pinner, Carlson, McNeill, Beagle....they can all be considered legitimate prospects. Sure you have guys like Aucoin, Giroux, Kane, and Helmer but that isn't that many big time AHL free agents. And while Aucoin has had lots of scoring success elsewhere (a 99 points season for Albany) most of the others have had their best seasons with Hershey.

I don't know. The one thing I am sure of is enjoy it while its here. Enjoy another playoff run, enjoy the records that will fall this spring. Because eventually all teams have down years and all teams break up or fall apart. Many of the current team are free agents after the season including Aucoin, Giroux, Wilson, Beagle, Bourque, Gordon, Kane, and surely others are all either unrestricted or restricted free agents.

Will they leave? I don't know. But guys like Gordon, Aucoin, and Giroux are going to want another shot at the NHL I would think...I mean wouldn't you? Bourque got a taste of it this year and he might get a shot elsewhere although who knows.

Either way, enjoy this team now because there are no guarantees that they will be together next season. Last night the attendance figures were a new regular season record for Hershey. I encourage everyone to help break that record again this season. This team is definitely worth the price of admission.

Last nights game....

Hershey lit up former Bear goaltender Daren Machesney for 8 goals after ringing up 8 against Manitoba's #1 Cory Schneider on Friday night.

Hershey got goals from Keith Aucoin (24th and 25th of the season), Oskar Osala (12), Jay Beagle (9), John Carlson (2), Andrew Gordon (21), Chris Bourque (13), and Boyd Kane (16).

Braden Holtby made 31 saves on 33 shots to pick up yet another win.

As for the stars of the game....

the whole team to be honest. One of the most complete hockey games I have seen from any Bears team. With the exception of the first minute and a half they played phenomenally all game.

As for grading the performance....

A+ for all. Absolutely dominating performance of a team that absolutely wanted to beat Hershey in the worst way. Completely devastated the Moose confidence last night by scoring 3 times in a 5 minute span after Manitoba scored the first goal.

All aspects of the game showed up and performed last night....exceptional.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bears put 8 on the board against Moose

Well Hershey started out a little sluggish as they turned the puck over numerous times yet still managed to escape the 1st period with a 2-1 lead on goals by Andrew Joudrey (6th of season) and Keith Aucoin (23).

Manitoba couldn't take advantage of Hershey's sloppy play as they played somewhat sloppy in the first as well. Both teams were coming off extended breaks due to the all star game but only one team had to travel.

And in the end it seemed to take its toll. Hershey scored 2 more times in the second on goals from Chris Bourque (12) and Steve Pinizzotto (8) while Manitoba got 1 to make it 4-2 after 2 periods.

Manitoba started out the 3rd with a goal from Marco Rosa to close the gap to 1 at 4-3. Then Hershey erupted scoring 4 times against goaltender Cory Schneider to take a 8-3 lead and victory.

It was the most goals Manitoba has given up this season and from what I can find it has been a long time since they gave up that many goals. It hasn't happened in the last 5 seasons. Although there was some sign of this as the Moose have now given up 6 or more goals in 3 straight games after only allowing more than 5 once before this.

Could Daren Machesney get the start tonight in goal for the Moose? I don't see why he wouldn't, Schneider isn't playing well enough to get wins right now but neither is the defense. It would be good to see Cheese make a start back in Hershey.

Hershey's 4 goals in the 3rd were scored by Andrew Gordon (20), Oskar Osala (11), Kyle Wilson (17), and Jay Beagle (8). Alexander Giroux had 2 assists while Aucoin had a goal and an assist as both extended their point streaks to 12 games while Wilson extended his goal scoring streak to 5 games.

Braden Holtby made the start in goal and made some huge saves early in the game when the Bears were putting him in bad spots. He finished the game with 22 saves on 25 shots. Not a great night but it was definitely enough.

These teams meet again tonight. Hershey has now won 13 straight home games with hopes to make that 14 tonight. Manitoba has now lost 3 straight and 5 of their last 7 so they will be desperately looking for a win as they have 4 more road games after tonight before heading home.

Tonights game will serve as a test for both teams. Hershey just dominated this team, can they get up and be ready for another game or will over confidence take control? Manitoba has hit a rough slide, can their defense and goaltending step up against the AHL's premier offense?

Manitoba will bring everything they have tonight as they try to avoid a 4th straight loss overall and a 5th straight defeat to Hershey. The Bears have to be ready.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Keith Aucoin - a goal and an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games
  2. Jay Beagle - a shorthanded goal and 2 assists
  3. Marco Rosa - only Moose player who seemed to show up as he scored twice

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense A It wasn't a complete performance as they didn't even have a shot until about 7 minutes into the game and only had 8 shots in the first period. But they made the most of their shots all game scoring on over 20% of their shots. As the game went on the got better and better and eventually they broke through.
  • Defense B Definitely not the best performance this unit has had. They struggled mightily in the first, relying on Holtby multiple times after defensive letdowns. Managed to get involved offensively while shutting down the Moose enough to get an impressive W.
  • Goaltending B Like the defense it wasn't the most impressive performance but in the end it was enough. He has put the bar so high that when he lets in a goal you are somewhat shocked and question why he didn't have it.
  • Power Play B+ 25% on the power play last night....another impressive performance. But considering how the Moose were playing this should have been about 50%.
  • Penalty Kill B+ Got caught kind of standing around on the first Moose power play and it cost them a goal. Picked up the play and killed off the remaining attempts.
  • Overall B+ When you score 8 goals and only allow 3 you are doing something right but the first period left a lot to be desired. Once they got their legs under them and started really playing they dominated what is fast becoming a lesser opponent.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Moose visit Hershey for 2 games this weekend

Nothing like coming back from the all star break to play against the team you defeated in last seasons Calder Cup finals.

Manitoba is in town for 2 games this weekend, tonight and tomorrow. Hershey has won 12 straight at home and defeated Manitoba 2 times a couple weeks ago in Manitoba.

The Moose have not spent much time on the road recently. These games will be only their 3rd and 4th road games in over a month. Fortunately for them they won both those road games, in Abbotsford.

Coming off the all star break is tough for all players. The players that were in the game this past Tuesday have at least been practicing and playing recently but that was entirely different than preparing for a regular season game against a true opponent.

As for the players that weren't in the game, they haven't been doing as much this past week. Sure some, maybe all, probably took some time to skate and keep moving and playing but again they were without their coaches and were just going through the motions.

Because of this I would expect the Bears to come out sluggish in the first period as they get their legs back underneath of them.

But you know what would make all this even worse...having to travel 1500 miles to play 2 games!

That is Manitoba's task this weekend. While they did not have as many players in the All Star game their remaining players were surely given some time off. And now they have to make the long trek to Hershey for 2 games against the best team in the AHL.

To even it up for them though Hershey might go with Jason Bacashihua in net tonight. Coach French would like to start Braden Holtby but he just returned from the ECHL All Star game in California.

Yes you read that correctly...the East Coast Hockey League had their All Star game in a place called Ontario, California. Ok I know the league is more than just a regional league but I was surprised at the location.

Either way Holtby made the cross country flight and could still start tonight but you have to wonder if his legs might be a little tired. I would think starting Cash might be the best move for the Bears tonight with Holtby going tomorrow night after he has had time to stretch out.

Looking forward to the games this weekend and for the Bears to extend their record home winning streak to 13 and then 14 games.

**something else for you...I just got done with the information below this point and was amazed at how much deeper Hershey is than the Moose.
  • Hershey has 8 players with 10+ goals, Manitoba has 2
  • Hershey has 10 players with 20+ points, Manitoba has 3
  • Hershey has 5 players with 20+ assists, Manitoba has 0
  • Hershey has 4 players averaging OVER a point per game, Manitoba has 0
  • Hershey has 15 players that are a +10 or better, Manitoba has 0
I would imagine that comparing Hershey to just about any other team in the league would bring similar results but impressive is that???**

Hershey Bears
record ~ 32-9-0-2 64 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Win vs Syracuse, 1/17
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 17-3-0-2
goals for ~ 173
goals against ~93
power play ~ 20.2% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 91.2% (1st)

Manitoba Moose
record ~ 23-17-4-1 51 points
standings ~ 3rd in North Division
most recent game ~ 6-2 Loss vs Milwaukee, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 9-8-2-0
goals for ~ 108
goals against ~ 123
power play ~ 13.3% (25th)
penalty kill ~ 83.8% (12th)

last time teams met - Hershey won a shootout 2-1 on January 8 and won the next night 3-2. Both games in Manitoba. These are the final meetings of the season between the teams.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10)- Third on the team in goals (19) and points (43). He scored a goal in each of the previous games against the Moose and has 4 goals and 4 assists in the last 8 games.
G Braden Holtby (1) - He was stellar in the 2 games north of the border a couple weeks ago. He will likely be called upon again for at least one game this weekend.
LW Alexander Giroux and C Keith Aucoin (12,11) - These two are almost tied at the hip it seems. Both are on 11 game point streaks, both are AVERAGING over 1.5 points per game this season, both just played in the All Star game, and combined they have over 100 points this season. During the last 11 games alone they have combined for 17 goals and 24 assists.


RW Sergei Shirikov (52) - The rookie leads the Moose in goals (14) and points (31). He scored 1 goal in the two games against Hershey earlier this month and has 3 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games.
C Marco Rosa (29) - Second on the team in goals (11) and points (29). Also had 1 goal against the Bears and has 5 goals and 3 assists in his last 8 games.
G Cory Schneider (35) - Probably the only reason Manitoba even remained in the games at home earlier this month. Schneider has been solid all season, 19-11-1 with 2.40 gaa and a .919 save percentage. But he has been weaker this month going 2-3-1 with a 3.11 gaa and a .901 save percentage. He will have to be playing his best for Moose to win this weekend.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bears at midseason

Hershey is on pace for all sorts of records including AHL records for wins, points, and winning percentage. Not too bad for a team that won the Calder Cup last year.

But all that winning means absolutely nothing when it comes to the playoffs. The team that owns most of those records didn't make it past the 2nd round of the playoffs. So maybe a little adversity is a good thing.

I doubt much adversity will be found from teams within the division this season. Currently the Bears are 16 points ahead of 2nd place Albany while 4 of the 7 division teams are either at .500 or below.

That is distinctly different from recent years where the East division dominated in not only the regular season but the playoffs as well. That will likely not be the case this season as the East is likely to only get 3 teams in the playoffs as the Atlantic division is positioned right now to get 5 teams in. Which means Hershey could be playing a team like Portland or Bridgeport in the first round come April.

The Bears are again one of the most balanced and talented offensive teams in the league. The difference between this years team and last years team is that the 09-10 Bears are great defensively as well.

We all remember the struggles during the season last year when Hershey was at the top in goals scored and power play success but at the bottom in goals allowed and penalty killing. But this year is different...while the same. Hershey is #1 in goals scored with 173, tied for #1 in goals allowed with 97, 1st in penalty killing, and 3rd in power play success.

Think about that for a minute....the Bears have a goal differential of 76. 76!! Last years club ended the season with a +56 goal differential. Who knows what this years club will finish with.

You want more?

The Bears 173 goals right now is 28 higher than the next closest team (Lowell has 145). The Bears have allowed only 3 more goals than the Phantoms have scored this entire season!

Hershey has won 6 games MORE than ANY OTHER TEAM in the AHL this season. And they haven't lost at home in 12 games. Which is a new franchise record...surprising huh?

This team is phenomenal. If you have the chance to see them play...TAKE IT! The likelihood of this team being together next season is highly unlikely. (although I did say that last year too)

One more great stat for you....

On the subject of getting the chance to see this team...I can see that many of you are. Hershey is again leading the league in attendance with 8,978 fans PER GAME. That is a full 1,418 MORE than second place Manitoba.

Of the other 28 teams in the AHL only 11 have averaged more than HALF of Hershey's average. Meaning only 11 teams in the AHL average more than 4,500 fans per game.

You should be very proud of those numbers. This will be the 4th straight season that Hershey will lead the league in attendance.

Very impressive indeed.

Enjoy the second half of the season!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Capitals Weekly

Whats new down in the capital district?

Good Week for Caps

After losing their first game of the week 7-4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning the Caps responded with wins over Florida, Toronto, and Philadelphia to close out the weekend.

Neuvirth Struggles

One week after making significant strides and impact with the Capitals Michal Neuvirth struggled in back to back games for the Caps. After giving up 4 goals and getting pulled against the Lightning in what was considered a defensive let down from his support he again gave up 4 and got pulled against the Panthers.

All of a sudden it is looking easier and easier to send the youngster back to Hershey. Jose Theodore looked solid against Toronto and while Semyon Varlamov is still out for another 5-10 days so Neuvy will get another opportunity but expect him back in Hershey once Varly is ready.

Carlson Spends Some Time with Caps

John Carlson got a welcome call Friday morning as he was summoned to Washington as defenseman Brian Pothier was unable to go. Carlson had just finished getting booed by everyone in Manitoba and turning the puck over in the Bears first loss in 12 games. But he played with the Caps through the weekend and was considered to have one of the strongest performances of any blue liner as he ended up a +4 in 2 games. Carlson is currently back in the AHL and will be playing in the All Star Game tomorrow night.

Ovechkin Shining

Alex Ovechkin was named the NHL's #1 star of the week after his 3 goals and 7 assists in the week's 4 games. Add to that a +5 rating in those games and Ovi now has 30 goals, 34 assists, and is a team leading +28 this season.

Alzner Headed Back?

Karl Alzner has reached the number of games with Hershey that allows him to play in Hershey during the NHL's 2 week Olympic break. So word in Washington is that the team is at the very least 'considering' bringing him back into the fold in D.C.

This Week's Schedule

The Caps have 3 games this week:
  • Tuesday - Detroit
  • Thursday - @ Pittsburgh
  • Saturday - Phoenix
Obviously the one everyone has circled is the Pittsburgh game but that is a tough week with games against the last 2 seasons Stanley Cup teams.

This Week's Trade Talk

Last week we saw a few names but this week only one...Ilya Kovalchuk. While the Caps are not actively in discussions with him one league exec says the Caps will probably end up with the forward. It would be as a rental as they would presumably not be able to fit his salary under the salary cap.

IF this trade were to happen this would drastically change the Bears. Whether that change would be right now or in a couple of years, prospects WOULD be moving to Atlanta.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bears welcome Crunch to Hershey tonight

The Syracuse Crunch are newcomers to the East division this season after spending last season in the Western Conferences' North division. And they are not being welcomed warmly.

Currently the Crunch sit in 6th place just 2 points ahead of last place Norfolk in the division. Although surprisingly that is only 4 points out of a playoff spot. This is not exactly the East division of old right now.

With the exception of the Hershey Bears. In the last 2 games they have scored 17 goals and pretty much embarrassed the two teams closest to them in the division standings, Albany and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

For only the second time this season Hershey will welcome the Crunch to Hershey while the Bears will return the favor and head to New York 3 times in the last few weeks of the season. This is the 2nd of 6 meetings this year and the last until March 20th in Syracuse.

Syracuse comes into the game as a poor road team overall with a record of 7-14-2-2 this season on the road. They have to be getting used to the road lately as this will be their 10th road game in the last 12 games. They seem to be getting better though as they have won their last 4 road games and are 5-2-1-1 during this latest road game streak.

I would expect to see Braden Holtby back in net for Hershey while Dan LaCosta gets his second consecutive start for the Crunch tonight. LaCosta played in the previous matchup between the teams, a 4-1 Hershey win the day after Christmas.

LaCosta and the Crunch are coming off a big loss at home last night to rival Rochester. It was the 8th meeting between the teams and the 8th win for Rochester. It was described as a playoff atmosphere in Syracuse between the teams but the Crunch couldn't quite get the win.

That should serve as a plus for Hershey as losing a close game in front of an inspired crowd is usually a tough thing to come back from instantly....especially when headed on the road to face the league's best offense.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 31-9-0-2 64 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 7-2 Win vs Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 16-3-0-2
goals for ~ 169
goals against ~94
power play ~ 20.3% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 91.4% (1st)

Syracuse Crunch
record ~ 16-20-3-3 38 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss vs Rochester, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 7-14-2-2
goals for ~ 111
goals against ~ 152
power play ~ 13.9% (22nd)
penalty kill ~ 81.8% (18th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 4-1 at home on December 26th. 4 more games to be played at the end of the season between the two teams.

Players to watch:


LW Alexander Giroux (12)- What else can he do? 5 goals and 3 assists in the last 2 games, a 10 game point streak in which he has 8 goals and 9 assists and yet he still trails Aucoin for the points lead by 3.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Almost as impressive as Giroux with 2 goals and 5 assists in the last 2 games and he too has a 10 game point streak with 7 goals and 14 assists.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - His streak shrinks in comparison to the aforementioned Coiner and Giroux but he does have a 4 game goal streak with 5 goals during that span.


C Jared Aulin (10) - The former Bear is leading the team in goals (11) and points (25). Has scored 3 goals and 6 assists in 7 January games.
D Brendan Bell (9) - Came over from Peoria during the season he is tied for the team lead in points with 25 (only 8 with Syracuse). Worst plus/minus on the team at -19. But does have a goal and 5 assists in his last 5 games.
C Tomas Kana (5) - The rookie has only played 17 games with the Crunch this season (all since the beginning of December) but he has 8 goals and 4 assists in those games including 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 January games.


Bears score 7 more to beat Pens

Well an offensive letdown was not in store for the Hershey Bears last night. After scoring 10 goals against Albany Friday night Hershey returned home and scored 7 more in a 7-2 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

That is an impressive 2 game stretch. Offensively it was the best since the 88-89 season when Hershey scored 11 and 8 in consecutive games.

But what makes the last 2 games even more amazing is to consider this stat (which Leone and Walton mentioned during last nights game)....Hershey's 17 goals in the past 2 games is equal to 18% of what the Adirondack Phantoms have scored ALL SEASON!!

Think about that for moment...the Phantoms have played 40 games...the Bear totaled in 2 games what it takes the Phantoms almost 8 games to accomplish. Not too bad.

Last night it seemed like a continuation of the Albany game although the Baby Pens were more ready to play than the Rats. They hustled more, hit harder, and generally scrapped more than what Albany could muster.

Still it wasn't enough to remain in the game. Hershey was actually out shot in the first period 12-10 but they left the period with a 4-1 lead and they never looked back. Then they carried over the intensity into the 2nd and 3rd periods as they added 3 more goals against Pens goalie Brad Thiessen.

Patrick Wellar and Jesse Boulerice fought in the first period and it appeared the two teams were headed for lengthy stays in the penalty box as the chippyness really picked up. But the 2nd period was really void of any trouble and everything seemed to be settling in with Hershey up 5-1 after 2 periods.

And then the 3rd period started and the chippyness returned. It really all started at about the 8 minute mark when Zach Sill and Mathieu Perreault got together and Francois Bouchard came to Perry's defense and took on Sill for a minute. 15 penalties were called in the final period including fighting majors handed out to Jay Beagle and Sill at the very end of the game. Beag's doesn't drop the gloves too often but when he does he surprises everyone and takes care of his opponent.

The power play and offense again carried the team. 3 power play goals and 5 different goal scorers for the night. Alexander Giroux added 2 more to his weekend (18,19) as did Kyle Wilson (14,15) while Keith Aucoin (21), Steve Pinizzotto (7), and Patrick McNeill (4) added their own tallies.

For the weekend Giroux has 5 goals and 3 assists in 2 games. Those are generally considered pretty good numbers. He and Aucoin are working on 10 game point streaks while Wilson has now scored in 4 straight games.

Braden Holtby got the start and made 20 saves to pick up his 12th win of the season. Only faced 22 shots but many of the saves he made were very impressive and difficult.

Last 15 games....14-1. 11 straight home wins...ties a new club record. This is a pretty impressive run over the past month. Enjoy it.

My 3 Stars of the Game:
  1. Alexander Giroux - 2 goals and an assist gives him the #1 spot for the 2nd straight game
  2. Patty McNeill - a goal and 3 assists for the blue liner
  3. Kyle Wilson - 2 goals last night gives him 5 in 4 straight games

Grading the Performance:

  • Offense | A+ | For the second straight night the Bears offense took it to an opposing defense and goaltender. Wilkes Barre came to play last night and yet the Bears controlled the game from the word go and there was seemingly nothing the Pens could do. The offense produced 31 shots, almost all of them very good and challenging, while scoring 7 times.
  • Defense | B+ | A better performance last night compared to the 3rd period of Friday nights game. 2 goals on 22 shots is okay although Wilkes Barre still had their chances. The Pens are built to be a bit more physical than Hershey and it showed but all that matter at the end is the scoreboard.
  • Goaltending | B+ | Holtby picks up his 12th win of the season after making 20 saves including many that could have drastically changed this game. Big saves at big moments is what being a goalie is all about.
  • Power Play | A | 3 of 9 were the final numbers. I would surely rather see more than 3 goals in 9 chances especially after seeing a 3 for 5 performance Friday night but 3 power play goals would make me happy in any game.
  • Penalty Kill | B+ | They allowed a goal and you know a unit is dominant when allowing 1 power play goal on 6 chances can be considered an off night.
  • Overall | A | Back to back great games with a slight letdown in Friday's third period sandwiched in the middle. Hershey is running away with the division and is it really just a joke when people are asking if Hershey could beat an East division All-Star team right now? The Bears are playing as well as anyone in any league right now and as long as their confidence doesn't get too high I think we could see records and streaks fall a couple more times this season.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bears welcome Penguins to Giant Center

After last night's extermination in Albany are the Bears ready to play their I-81 rivals tonight? Hershey has produced 4 shutouts this season....2 of those have come against the Penguins. It would be nice to see #3 tonight.

Braden Holtby will likely get the start in goal for the Bears tonight as they look to begin a new winning streak after watching their previous one fall this past Wednesday.

The Bears and Pens have met 5 times so far this season with Hershey outscoring the Pens 18-9 and going 4-1 against them. In Hershey they have won both meetings and outscored the Pens 8-1.

These teams will meet 7 more times this season (including tonight) including 4 times in the next 4 weeks. This is not the same Wilkes Barre team the Bears have seen the past few years but it is still a dangerous rivalry. The Pens would surely like nothing more than to beat the Bears so Hershey MUST be ready to go.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 30-9-0-2 62 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 10-4 Win @ Albany, 1/15
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 15-3-0-2
goals for ~ 162
goals against ~92
power play ~ 19.7% (4th)
penalty kill ~ 91.7% (1st)

Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins
record ~ 20-18-1-1 42 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss @ Binghamton, 1/15
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 7-10-1-1
goals for ~ 112
goals against ~ 106
power play ~ 15.5% (19th)
penalty kill ~ 85.7% (8th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in Wilkes Barre on New Years Day. The last meeting in Hershey was November 29th when the Bears won 5-0.

Players to watch:


LW Alexander Giroux (12)- Is working on a 9 game point streak and is coming off a 3 goal 2 assist game last night. He has 6 goals and 8 assists during his streak.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - Seems to be finding a rhythm as he has scored a goal in 3 straight games giving him 13 goals and 12 assists this season.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - Is playing a more physical game this season which helps considering he isn't scoring as much. He has 10 goals and 7 assists this season.


C Dustin Jeffrey (21) - Leading the team in assists (29), points (41) and plus/minus (+13). Has 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 January games so far.
RW Nick Johnson (28) - He has only played 24 games for the Baby Pens this season but he dominated the month of December scoring 6 goals and 10 assists in 11 games that month. Hasn't been as good this month though with only 3 assists in 6 games and none in 3 games.
C Mark Letestu (10) - Second on the team in points with 33 and tied for second in goals with 12. Like Johnson he hasn't tallied a point in 3 games but he had 4 goals and 2 assists in the first 3 January games.


Bears score 10 in Albany

Well I mentioned yesterday that maybe the Bears were caught looking ahead to last night's game this past Wednesday. I would say that is a fair estimation after the complete and utter domination that happened to the River Rats last night.

Albany was NEVER in that game and the Bears controlled play from the opening faceoff on their way to a 10-4 win. Considering the Bears went into the game last night having been outscored 6-1 in two previous games in that building a 10-4 win is awfully impressive. Even more impressive is that the Bears actually led the game 10-1 before allowing a few garbage time goals late in the 3rd period.

Surely not the way Hershey wanted to end the game but I would imagine most teams and most people would let up a bit when you are up 9 goals after 2.5 periods.

Jason Bacashihua got the start and made 19 saves to pick up his 8th win of the season. At the other end Justin Peters had what can only be described as a horrible night. The goalie who had stopped 75 of Hershey's 76 stops in the previous 2 games in Albany allowed 4 goals in the first period before getting pulled for backup Mike Murphy. But then Murphy got hurt so Peters had to come BACK in to the game.

Imagine that for a get pulled because 1. you can't stop anything and 2. your defense is non existent...BUT you end up having to go back in to the game a little later!! Ouch. And it didn't get easier for him. He ended up giving up 9 goals on 35 shots to earn the loss.

Alexander Giroux ended the night with 3 goals (15,16,17) and 2 assists while Kyle Wilson (13), Jay Beagle (7), Andrew Gordon (19), Keith Aucoin (20), Chris Bourque (10), Boyd Kane (15), and Mathieu Perreault (5) also scored for the Bears. Other than the goalies only Patty McNeill, Karl Alzner, and Patrick Wellar did NOT record a point in last nights game.

That is what you would call depth.

To be honest the Rats just didn't seem to be in the game at all. They were standing around while Hershey was flying to the puck. Whether that was a result of the shock of being down so much so quickly or just from being drained I don't know. They hadn't played in a week and we have seen the Bears come out flat after a long layoff like that so who knows. One thing I am sure of...the Rats come to Hershey on January 30th and I guarantee they will be fired up.

Tonight Hershey returns home and welcomes (sort of) the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to the Giant Center. Hopefully the Bears have something left for the flightless birds.

My 3 Stars of the Game:
  1. Alexander Giroux - 3 goals and 2 assists gives him the #1 spot in almost any game
  2. Francois Bouchard - 2 assists were excellent passes and perfectly placed
  3. Andrew Gordon - a goal and an assist and LOTS of hustle all night long

Grading the Performance:

  • Offense | A+ | You can't ask for a better performance than that. Whether it was due to their outstanding hustle or to the Rats lack of effort it doesn't matter. The Bears converted on their chances and made the Rats pay for mistakes. That is what a championship team does. The hustle to the puck was outstanding as the Rats rarely won the battle for loose pucks.
  • Defense | B | Not sure what exactly happened late in the game as I had already turned the game off but for the first 2/3 of the game the defense did what they needed to. They weren't excellent though as Bacashihua had to make some sprawling saves from time to time but it was obviously enough.
  • Goaltending | B | Again I am not sure what the 3 goals late were about but Cash played very well for the first parts of the game. Albany had a few chances and he snuffed them all out.
  • Power Play | A | 3 of 5 were the final numbers. That is a pretty good night by any teams standards. Would loved to have seen 5 for 5 but now I am just being greedy. Lots of great passing (Bouchard...excellent job on Perry's goal) from everyone and solid movement and positioning.
  • Penalty Kill | A | Killed off all 3 Albany chances and even added a short handed goal (Kane's goal). Albany wasn't too into the game but even still killing off 3 chances and scoring a shortie is a good performance.
  • Overall | A | Great performance against the only team in the East division that has given the Bears trouble this season. Some might call last night a Statement Game and I would agree BUT like I mentioned above the Rats were dealing with multiple injuries and call ups and were coming off a week long break. This team will look drastically different come playoff time when all the players get sent back from a horrible Carolina team. BUT either way it was a good game and a great effort.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bears visit Albany looking to start new streak

Were the Bears looking ahead towards this game a little on Wednesday? Not sure but I could understand why. Hershey had beaten the Admirals 5 times this season and hadn't struggled too much but the trip up to Albany has cost the Bears 2 straight this season. Were they looking towards the Rats while in Norfolk?

Hopefully. That should get them ready to play and they should come out strong. Previously against the Rats the Bears faced goaltender Justin Peters who has stopped 75 of 76 shots against the Bears. When a goalie is playing like that it doesn't matter how good the other team is.

Hershey is looking to get back in the win column and to gain another 2 points on the Rats. A win and the Bears lead the division by 16. A loss and the lead is only 12. So it is truly a four point game tonight. But a 12 point lead is still pretty good no matter when in the season it is.

Jason Bacashihua is expected to get the start tonight in Albany. It will be his first start since December 29th when he got the win at Norfolk. He will continue to be the backup in Hershey for the 2nd half of the season but I would expect him to be a little closer to a 50/50 split over the 2nd half so that the #1, whether its Braden Holtby or Michal Neuvirth, gets some rest. Cash's numbers are solid this season too, he is 7-2-1 with a 2.69 goals against average and a .907 save percentage.

Albany is coming into this game a little shorthanded at forward. Pat Dwyer, Zach Boychuk, Jiri Tlusty and Jerome Samson all remain on recall with the Carolina Hurricanes. In addition to those moves they are suffering from multiple injuries. Rob Hennigar is out indefinitely with a broken hand, Michael Ryan is curbed with a lower-body injury and Matthew Pistilli is sidelined with a concussion sustained last Saturday.

Former Bear Jonathon Paiement has been playing forward recently and is expected to do so again but even with him the Rats might only have 11 forwards dressed tonight.

With all those injuries and call ups the Bears depth should give Hershey a distinct advantage over the Rats tonight.

But if Peters can play like he has the last two meetings it won't matter how many forwards the Rats have.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 29-9-0-2 60 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Norfolk, 1/13
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 14-6-0-0
goals for ~ 152
goals against ~88
power play ~ 18.5% (10th)
penalty kill ~ 91.6% (1st)

Albany River Rats
record ~ 21-15-2-2 46 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Win vs Hartford, 1/9
last 5 games ~ 3-1-1-0
home record ~ 15-6-1-1
goals for ~ 108
goals against ~ 101
power play ~ 12.5% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 85.2% (11th)

last time teams met - Hershey lost 3-0 in Albany on December 11. That was one week after losing 3-1 in Albany as well.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10)- Second on the team with 18 goals and 3rd in points with 39 he has been one of the most consistent players early. A little light on production of late but is working on a 5 game point streak.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Hershey's leading scorer with 19 goals and 46 points currently has an 8 game point streak in which he has 5 goals and 9 assists.
C Kyle Wilson (18) - Heading into the second half it would be nice to see Kyle get more opportunities as he has never disappointed in Hershey. He has scored in back to back games and has 12 goals this season.


LW Jacob Micflikier (18) - Has only played 19 games this season in Albany and has 6 goals and 8 assists in those games including 4 assists against Hershey.
LW Drayson Bowman (9) - Has scored in back to back games and has 8 goals and 7 assists this season for the Rats.
C Stefan Chaput (15) - With all the injuries and callups he is the active leader in points with 21 but he has not registered a point in his last 7 games.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The streak ends at 12 as Bears lose in Norfolk

With the exception of one 7-1 game this season the Bears and Admirals games have all been relatively close and competitive. And last night the Admirals got just enough to beat the Bears.

With only 7 seconds left a shot deflected in off Braden Holtby and the Bears lost 4-3 in Norfolk.

After Kyle Wilson gave the Bears a 1-0 lead in the first period the Admirals scored 3 straight before Hershey added 2 more in the third on goals by Patty McNeill and Alexander Giroux.

Alas it wasn't quite enough as Braden Holtby had his worst game in a Bears uniform. He was due to struggle in a game as all goalies struggle from time to time. It was the first time in his 14 games with the Bears this season that he has given up 4 goals. And only the second time he has given up 3 or more.

But this time Hershey's offense couldn't quite overcome the deficit and their franchise record 12 game winning streak was not extended to 13.

Next up for Hershey is a road game against the Albany River Rats. The last 2 times Hershey visited Albany on Friday nights they lost. So hopefully this one will be different.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bears visit Norfolk tonight

The Hershey Bears take their franchise record 12 game winning streak down to southeastern Virginia tonight to take on the Norfolk Admirals.

This will be the 6th meeting of the two teams this season with Hershey winning all 5 to this point. But this will be only the second game to be played in Norfolk as 4 of the 5 were in Hershey.

Norfolk is coming in on a bit of a slide. Earlier this season they were actually in 2nd place in the East division but now they reside in the cellar, tied for last in the division with Syracuse. They have only won 1 of their last 8 games which included 2 losses to Hershey.

Hershey meanwhile is obviously coming in playing well having won 12 straight. Much of that can be attributed to the play of goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby has won 9 straight himself and has a goals against average of 1.56 and a save percentage of .948 during that stretch. While he doesn't have a shutout in those games he does have a number of 1 goal games. If you were to extend those numbers out over the course of a season you would undoubtedly have an MVP trophy.

Outside of Holtby though the Bears are still playing very well. The defense has helped him alot while the offense has scored 52 goals during the winning streak which equates to a little over 4 goals per game.

And it isn't like the scoring is limited to just one line. 16 different players including 4 defensemen have scored during the 12 games. If that isn't balance I don't know what is.

Tonight's game starts a 4 in 5 weekend featuring games against the East division. Games with Albany, Wilkes-Barre, and Syracuse loom this weekend. Hershey already leads the division by 14, with a few wins this weekend that number will surely jump.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 29-8-0-2 60 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Win @ Manitoba, 1/9
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 14-5-0-0
goals for ~ 149
goals against ~84
power play ~ 18.3% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 91.5% (1st)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 16-21-2-0 34 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Loss vs Syracuse, 1/9
last 5 games ~ 1-4-0-0
home record ~ 7-10-0-0
goals for ~ 98
goals against ~ 111
power play ~ 12.8% (26th)
penalty kill ~ 86.8% (6th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 5-3 in Norfolk on December 29th. This is the 6th meeting this season and Hershey is 5-0 to date winning by a combined 25-12.

Players to watch:


LW Chris Bourque (17)- He has been involved in 3 games so far against Norfolk and has done well scoring 4 goals and adding 3 assists in those 3 games.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Hershey's leading scorer with 19 goals and 45 points has 4 goals and 6 assists against Norfolk this season.
LW Alexandre Giroux (12) - In 4 games against Norfolk this season he has 2 goals and 5 assists including 3 assists opening night in Hershey.


LW Juraj Simek (14) - Third on the team in goals (10) and points (20) he has 3 goals and an assist in his last 4 games.
C Blair Jones (9) - He has played in 26 of Norfolk's games to date and has played 14 games with Tampa Bay in the NHL. He is a team best +8 but hasn't played for Norfolk since 12/12.
C Ryan Craig (23) - Second on the team (behind Brandon Bochenski who is on recall to Tampa Bay) in goals with 12 although 6 of those goals came in October.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Capitals Weekly Update

Here is your weekly update on the news coming out of the District with the NHL's Washington Capitals.

A New Captain

Alexander Ovechkin was given the 'C' as team captain this week. The previous captain, Chris Clark, was traded to Columbus so a new captain was needed. Ovi was the logical choice as he is the face of the franchise at this time.

A New Center

After spending all of his professional career at wing Tomas Fleischmann was moved to center this week. Bruce Boudreau was reportedly trying to find some consistency and balance as you move down through the lines in Washington. After stellar performances in his first 2 games at center (80% and 66.7%) he struggled a bit in the 3rd game (31.6%). With the success and ability he has shown I would imagine he will remain at center for the time being.

Alzner back in Hershey

The speculation after the Nylander move and the trade of Jurcina was that Hershey had seen the last of Karl Alzner. Well that changed quickly as the young blueliner is back in Hershey. The reasoning...8 healthy defensemen in Washington meant little playing time for Alzner. But that might have changed as John Erskine is not practicing although Tyler Sloan is still in Washington and they may go with him instead of recalling Alzner.

Neuvirth shines

The Caps are running into the same problem as the Bears are having with Braden Holtby. Michal Neuvirth has been stellar allowing 2 or fewer goals in 6 of his last 7 starts including Saturday night against Atlanta when he made a 38 save, one goal allowed performance. When Varlamov comes back it will give them 3 goalies playing very well. One will surely be headed for Hershey which would give the Bears 3 goalies that are playing very well.

Trade Rumors
  • The latest trade rumors have a few Bears or Bears prospects on the trading block. One potential trade would bring defenseman Sheldon Souray to Washington in exchange for Jose Theodore, Eric Fehr, Stefan Della Rovere, and draft picks. That would mean Neuvy would stay in Washington, a winger would probably get recalled (although a center might work too), and Hershey would lose prospects too.
  • Another trade being discussed would be for Ilya Kovalchuk. Although expectations are that would cost the Caps Karl Alzner. I couldn't imagine the Caps giving up on Alzner to rent a forward for the season.
  • Thomas Kaberle has also been mentioned in connection with the Caps although there is no mention of what the cost would be for him.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wilson makes it 12 straight

Kyle Wilson scored his 11th goal of the season with just over 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd period to give the Hershey Bears their 12th straight victory, a new franchise record.

Coming into the 3rd period the Bears were trailing 2-1 after 2 second period goals by the Moose. Chris Bourque scored his 9th on a nice play from Mathieu Perreault to tie the game at 2-2 before Wilson's heroics.

It wasn't easy after that though as referee Kyle Rehman started calling penalties on the Bears. With about a minute and a half left in the game he made a too many men call against the Bears and during the call he also dismissed Boyd Kane from the game. Not sure what Kane said or did but apparently he insulted Rehman in some fashion. And just to make it clear...the penalty for too many men was a good call. Beagle was damn near still in the offensive zone when his replacement jumped over the boards.

The penalties didn't end there though as John Carlson was called for a cross checking penalty with only 5 seconds remaining. Again it was the correct call. And just a note...another too many men call was missed by the officials at about the one minute mark. For a good 2-3 seconds the Bears were playing the penalty kill with 5 guys. So while Rehman might have made some questionable calls there were still others that he missed.

This game started the same way Friday nights game went, a defensive goaltending battle between Braden Holtby and Cory Schneider. Andrew Gordon scored his 18th of the season about halfway through the first period and then a Moose breakaway led to their first goal, scored by Sergei Shirokov shorthanded. The Bears had gone with 5 forwards during a 5 on 3 and they turned the puck over and Shirokov beat Holtby through the 5 hole.

After that the offenses seemed to pick up the pace a bit. Later in the 2nd Marco Rosa converted a beautiful feed by Guillaume Desbians for the Moose's second goal and first lead of the weekend.

They carried that lead into the 3rd before the Bears came back and won in the closing minutes. Hershey will return home tomorrow before heading down to Norfolk for a game Wednesday night. It was a successful weekend yet again and the 09-10 Bears are now franchise record holders with 12 straight wins.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Kyle Wilson - game winning goal on a nice individual play
  2. Andrew Gordon - scored another goal this weekend
  3. Braden Holtby - stopped 33 of 35 shots to pick up yet another win for the rookie

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B | Actually took less shots than Friday night, 26, but I thought they were more meaningful. They got Schneider moving side to side and managed to get some good looks. I would like to see Perreault shoot a bit more as he was open a couple times and elected to make questionable passes instead. Lots of one-timers and solid movement in the offensive zone.
  • Defense | B | There were some poor plays including John Carlson not tying up Rosa as he scored the 2nd goal of the game for the Moose. I thought Zach Miscovic and Sean Collins had very solid games at both ends although Collins did make a poor decision in the 3rd period when he made a pass towards the Hershey bench as they were making a line change...which resulted in the first of 2 too many men calls.
  • Goaltending | B | I think Holtby's weakness is definitive now....5 hole. Fortunately this does not usually affect him during game play as breakaways are not super common (although the Moose had a few in 2 games) but Holtby needs to figure out how to block the huge opening he leaves when he goes side to side. the hell can this guy not stay in Hershey this season??
  • Power Play | F | That was one of the worst 5 on 3 power plays I have ever seen. From miscommunication to giving up a shortie that power play was piss poor. The Moose do a good job in front of their own net but you have to be able to get shots on net during power plays if you want to win.
  • Penalty Kill | A | They killed off everything they needed to including a 6 on 4 for the final minute and a half in regulation. Just like they have done all season.
  • Overall | B | Another solid performance that could have been better. Long road trip to face an out of conference opponent can take a lot out of a team but the Bears managed to win 2 in 2 nights against a formidable opponent.
Congrats Bears on a new franchise record....let's see you extend it Wednesday night.

Bears win in Manitoba, tie franchise record

Last season the Hershey Bears won 11 in a row during the regular season. That was a new franchise record that many thought would stand a while.

Well if the Bears win tonight that record will fall.

Last night in a defensive goaltending battle in Winnipeg the Bears got the win in a shootout to extend their winning streak to 11 games, tying the record.

Both goalies, Braden Holtby of the Bears and Cory Schneider of the Moose, were spectacular....during regulation and overtime anyway. Once the shootout started it seemed that both goalies were a little under prepared. Each team scored 3 times in their first 4 shots before the goalies seemed to catch up and started making saves. Hershey won in the 7th round with a goal from Andrew Gordon and a stop by Holtby on Matt Pope.

Neither team offered overwhelming offensive play during regulation and overtime as both defenses seemed to lock down their zones. Gordon scored his 17th of the season 13 seconds into the 2nd period and Matt Pettinger beat the Bears defense and Holtby for his 7th of the season.

The only other real chance for either team came via a penalty shot for Mathieu Perreault of the Bears. It was a questionable call by referee Kyle Rehman as Perry was barely clear on the breakaway AND got off a shot on Schneider. Typically if a player gets the shot off they do not award a penalty shot, maybe a penalty but typically not a penalty shot. In the end neither hurt the Moose as Schneider made the save on both the breakaway and the penalty shot and the game remained tied at 1-1.

The shootout loss for the Moose was their first of the season. Coming into the game they were 6-0 in shootouts including winning 2 of their last 3 games in that fashion. For the Bears it was only their 4th overtime game of the season and it was their first shootout win. Prior to last night Hershey was 0-2 in shootouts this season.

Tonight the two teams will again face off as Holtby gets another start in net and Manitoba is expected to go with former Bear Daren Machesney in goal. Cheese is having a rough year so far. He is 4-9 with a 2.97 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. It would be good to see Cheese have a little success tonight but at the same time I would love to see a 5-0 dominating performance from the Bears.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Braden Holtby - made 30 of 31 saves during play and made the important stops in the shootout.
  2. Cory Schneider - stopped 33 of 34 shots but couldn't make the biggest saves in the shootout.
  3. Andrew Gordon - scored Hershey's lone goal during the game and scored the game winner in the shootout.

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense B- Nothing spectacular although they did end up with 34 shots. Many of those shots were without traffic in front and were awfully easy saves for Schneider. They didn't seem to get Schneider moving all that much and he seemed to see just about everything.
  • Defense B+ There were a couple instances of players getting caught up ice or not quite getting their feet moving quick enough to get back but overall they kept Holtby clean in net. Bryan Helmer in particular looked somewhat slow at times but he was surely not the only one, Zach Miscovic and Patty McNeill also struggled at times.
  • Goaltending A Another excellent performance by Holtby although a weakness might have been found. Every goal that beat him last night (1 in regulation, 3 in shootout) seemed to go 5 hole. Pettinger's goal in the 2nd period looked easy as he got Holtby going sideways and beat him.
  • Power Play ? Really no way to judge one power play chance but they did get some pressure and had a shot or two. Nothing special.
  • Penalty Kill A They killed off all 3 chances and looked pretty good doing so. Kept the puck out of the zone and kept the Moose chasing each other during their chances.
  • Overall B They did enough to win but didn't do enough to dominate. This is the kind of game you see in the playoffs and it was great to see the Bears win but they had their chances but couldn't seem to convert them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bears visit Manitoba for 2 games this weekend

Well the Bears are back in Winnipeg for the first time since June. And what a wonderful time it was then. Hershey clinched the Calder Cup the last time they were there.

The stakes aren't as high tonight and tomorrow, as the Bears play 2 there this weekend, but all the games are still important. Hershey enters tonight's contest with a 10 game winning streak. The franchise record is 11, set last season, and the team can tie and break that in Manitoba.

This is not the same team Hershey saw last June. Of the 10 leading scorers for the Moose in the 2009 season and playoffs only 3 players are in the top 1o again this season, Mike Keane, Guillaume Desbians, and Michael Grabner. Even beyond the top scorers the team is much different.

On this years team you have players with NHL experience such as Mathieu Schneider, who was just assigned to Manitoba, and Matt Pettinger, a longtime Cap. As well as some former Bears including Daren Machesney, Lawrence Nycholat, and Tom Maxwell.

While they aren't the same team they are still good. Currently sitting in 3rd in the North division they are 7 points out of 1st and are on a 4 game winning streak. They aren't as dangerous in the offensive end as they are tied for 3rd lowest in the league in goals scored. Defensively they are solid but not quite as good as last year.

Even still with the long road trip the games will be difficult this weekend. If the Bears can manage to win both games they will return to Hershey with a new franchise record winning streak.

There is no reason to think the Bears won't be ready to show that they are still the class of the league by beating the team they went through for the Cup last Spring.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 27-8-0-2 56 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-1 Win vs Adirondack, 1/3
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 12-5-0-0
goals for ~ 144
goals against ~81
power play ~ 18.8% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 91.0% (1st)

Manitoba Moose
record ~ 21-14-4-0 46 points
standings ~ 3rd in North Division
most recent game ~ 5-4 SO Win vs Texas, 1/2
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 14-6-2-0
goals for ~ 94
goals against ~ 102
power play ~ 12.1% (27th)
penalty kill ~ 82.8% (15th)

last time teams met - Bears clinched their 10th Calder Cup in June of 2009. This is the first of 4 meetings this season. Manitoba visits Hershey at the end of the month.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11)- The league leader in goals with 19 he also has a 5 game point streak. Has been on fire all season. 5 goals and 6 assists in his last 5 games.
LW Oskar Osala (36) - He has been a little less consistent this season with his points coming in little streaks. Has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 6 games.
G Braden Holtby (1) - Absolutely ridiculous this season. He hasn't lost in regulation since October 11th or at all since November 21. Overall he is 9-1-1 with a 1.45 goals against average and a .949 save percentage. Phenomenal numbers.


RW Sergei Shirokov (52) - The rookie leads the team in goals (12) and points (26). Scored a goal and 2 assists in their last game but only had 2 assists in his previous 5 games.
LW Michael Grabner (40) - Has only played in 9 games for the Moose this season as he has spent some time in the NHL but he has 7 goals and 3 assists in his 9 games.
LW Matt Pettinger (18) - Former Capital spent parts of 5 seasons with Washington. He has 6 goals and 6 assists in 20 games with the Moose this season.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Carlson nets game winner for USA

If you didn't get to see the IIHF World Juniors Gold Medal game last night you can see it again tonight at 6 on NHL network.

John Carlson, of your Hershey Bears, scored the game winning goal for the USA in overtime last night. It was a simple wrist shot that beat the Canada goalie short side on a 2 on 1 break for team USA.

It shouldn't even have come to that as the US was up 5-3 with less than 5 minutes to play in regulation but Canada managed to tie it up and force OT where Carlson managed to make his presence known.

Good to see a Bear making a huge impact on the World stage!

Congrats John!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weekly Caps Report

*this is a new weekly series I plan on providing to my readers. The plan is to have this up every Tuesday discussing the previous Mon-Sun week.*

Last week wasn't a great one for the Capitals. They began the week playing host to the worst team in the NHL, Carolina Hurricanes, before making their second trip of the season to the west coast to play the Sharks and the Kings. None of those games ended well for the Caps as they dropped all three games.

The Capitals started last week by trading a couple of players and assigning injured goaltender Semyon Varlamov to Hershey for a conditioning stint. They finish the week finding out that Varly injured himself playing in Hershey and will be out up to 2 weeks.

First the trade...Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina were sent to Columbus for winger Jason Chimera. It was a shock to many in the organization as Clark was the Caps captain and had been working his way back to regular minutes after missing time in recent seasons to injury. The Jurcina half of the trade was a little less surprising. Of all the defensemen on the roster he was the most expendable and was the most likely to find himself on the bench with Karl Alzner gaining more minutes with the big club.

Next up for the Caps are the Canadiens on Tuesday, the Senators on Thursday, and the Thrashers on Saturday.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Bears make it 10 in a row

Apparently Hershey took getting shutout 3-0 in Albany a little personally. Since that game on December 11 Hershey has won 1o straight. And most of the games haven't been close. Hershey has scored 47 goals to the opponents 19 during that span.

They have balanced out their winning as well. 7 of the wins are at home, 3 are on the road, against 7 different opponents, including 6 wins (against 5 different teams) within the East division.

The Bears have opened up a nice cushion in the East division as well...a 15 point cushion over second place Albany. They have also opened up a lead on the rest of the AHL. They have 5 points more than any other team in the league.

Not that any of that means anything this time of year but it is still nice to look at. Hershey's next 4 games are on the road including this Friday and Saturday in Winnipeg against the team they beat in the Calder Cup finals back in June, the Manitoba Moose.