Now that we are all dug out of the snow it is time to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
A busy weekend for the Bears as they have a 3 in 3 with two road games before heading home on Sunday.
The Bears are visiting Albany tonight in an attempt to extend their division lead to 22 points over the second place Rats. This will be the Bears last visit to Albany this season and maybe for a while longer as news has come down this week that the franchise is moving to Charlotte next season. While the AHL wants to have a team in Albany it remains to be seen if there will be a team there next year.
Hershey comes into this game having won 10 in a row and 22 of 23. They have also won 17 straight home games which is 2 short of the AHL record. If Hershey can win all three games this weekend they will break the long standing franchise record for consecutive wins of 12. It was set way back at the beginning of January!
Albany is just looking to stay ahead of 3rd place Norfolk as they have surely written off a division championship. They are 6 points up on Norfolk with a game in hand.
Recently the Rats have struggled going 1-3-0-1 in their last 5 games including an 8-3 beating at the hands of the Bears a couple weeks ago. They have not kept a team below 4 goals in that stretch while scoring more than 3 only once.
Hershey lost a couple players to the Caps yesterday, Chris Bourque and Karl Alzner, due to injuries with the big club. Michael Dubuc was recalled from South Carolina to help fill the void on the Hershey roster.
The goaltending situation in Hershey has worked itself out again with Semyon Varlamov heading back to Washington. Michael Neuvirth remains in Washington as he was injured in a game there last week but Braden Holtby and Jason Bacashihua are still healthy and still in Hershey. Expect to see both this weekend with Holtby likely getting 2 starts to Cash's 1.
record ~ 39-9-0-2 80 points
standings ~ 1st in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-4 Win vs Wilkes Barre, 2/7
last 5 games ~ 5-0-0-0
road record ~ 17-6-0-0
goals for ~ 219
goals against ~118
power play ~ 22.2% (1st)
penalty kill ~ 90.3% (1st)
Albany River Rats
record ~ 27-19-3-3 60 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Loss @ Binghamton, 2/10
last 5 games ~ 1-3-0-1
home record ~ 17-8-2-1
goals for ~ 149
goals against ~ 150
power play ~ 14.4% (23rd)
penalty kill ~ 81.6% (18th)
last time teams met - Hershey won 8-3 in Hershey on January 30th.
Players to watch:
LW Michael Dubuc (15)- Replacing Bourque can't be easy but Dubuc gets his chance this weekend. So far this season Dubuc has played 7 games for the Bears scoring 3 goals and 2 assists. In SC he has 13 goals and 14 assists in 34 games.
C Mathieu Perreault (24) - Fresh off his hat trick against the Pens the diminutive center will be looking to continue his scoring ways. He has 5 goals and 4 assists in his last 5 games.
LW Alexander Giroux and C Keith Aucoin (12,11) - After scoring in EVERY SINGLE JANUARY game the duo has failed to record a point in a February game. This surely won't last so keep your eye on both these guys this weekend.
D Jamie McBain (2) - The rookie is tied for the team lead in assists with 21 and is 4th in points. In his last 4 games he has 1 goal and 6 assists.
LW Jacob MicFlikier (18) - Second on the team in goals with 13. In his last 4 games he has scored 3 goals and added 2 assists. He has 4 assists against the Bears this season.
LW Drayson Bowman (9) - Another rookie producing for the Rats this season. He has 2 goals and an assist in the last game.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!