Saturday, January 9, 2010

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.

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