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.
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.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!