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
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)
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.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!