Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hershey heads to Wilkes-Barre to start 10-11 season

And so it begins...the 2010-11 AHL Season kicks off for the Hershey Bears and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins tonight up I-81.

Both teams are expected to contend in the East division and both are considered contenders for the Calder Cup. Obviously the first game means little in the overall big picture but when you are playing a division opponent, every game matters. The 2 points a team gets tonight could be the difference come April.

So, how different are these teams this year?

Well we have already discussed Hershey. The Bears lost a substantial amount of talent over the summer. Some went to the NHL, some went to Europe and others are stationed elsewhere in the AHL at this point. But the important thing to remember is that they also restocked the talent this year.

Some of the top scorers might be gone but players that have the ability to produce similar numbers have stepped into their places.

But what about the Penguins? Last season they finished 3rd in the East division, a full 36 points behind the Bears. Offensively they only scored 239 goals, 103 behind Hershey. And they allowed 229, 31 more than Hershey. So what did they do to improve their team?


Gone are forwards Mark Letestu (Pittsburgh), Wyatt Smith (Providence), Luca Caputi (Toronto-AHL), Eric Tangradi (Pittsburgh), Konstantin Pushkarev (Russia), Ryan Bayda (Germany), Wade Brookbank (Rockford), and Tyler Spurgeon (Austria).

Not exactly a who's who of offensive forwards. Caputi was 3rd on the team in goals with 23 last season and Letestu was 4th but the remaining 6 only scored 51 goals combined.

In their place this season come some definite offensive weapons:
  • Brett Sterling (Chicago) - 34g 22a | 55 games
  • Chris Collins (Germany) - 23g 23a | 47 games
  • Ryan Craig (Norfolk) - 23g 22a | 73 games
  • Nick Petersen (QMJHL) - 39g 40a | 59 games
In addition they added role players Ryan Schnell, Bryan Lerg, and Geoff Walker to the forward cast. Schnell had 173 PIM in 60 games last season playing in the ECHL so his role is pretty well defined.

Sterling and Craig are the top 2 players coming in. Craig is a former Bear with loads of talent. He spent most of 05-09 playing for Tampa Bay and scoring 30+ goals during that span. Sterling has scored 144 goals in 4 partial AHL seasons and another 14 goals in limited playoff time with Chicago.

Collins played in Germany and produced for his team there having finished 4th on the team in goals. Petersen is obviously a young kid who is looking to make a mark coming out of juniors.

All of these players are going to join with returning leaders, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Conner, Nick Johnson and Tim Wallace to provide some additional offensive punch this season.

On the blueline only 3 of the 8 defensemen were on the roster last season, Steve Wagner, Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo.

Joining them will be:
  • Corey Potter (Hartford)
  • Andrew Hutchinson (Texas)
  • Drew Fata (Providence)
  • Carl Sneep (NCAA - Boston College)
  • Jason DeSantis (Czech)
Obviously we all remember Hutchinson from the Calder Cup finals where he played excellent. Potter was a +17 for a Hartford team that missed the playoffs last season. Sneep is a somewhat offensive defenseman having scored 11 goals and added 17 assists playing for BC last year. Fata is a pest and DeSantis is more than likely there for depth.

All in all it is a different team in Wilkes Barre. One that they surely hope provides a bit more defense and a bit more offense.

It should be a fun rivalry this season and it gets started at 7:05 tonight.


Oh and if you didn't hear already....CONGRATS to Andrew Joudrey for being named team captain this year.

I doubt there is a player on the Bears that outworks Joudrey and to see him get rewarded by being named captain is great. The guy plays with more heart and effort than most players and he shows a real love for the game. It is great to watch him play with energy night in and night out.

Players like him are the ones that make or break a season.

Congrats Andrew and I am sure you will be an excellent captain this season!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

he may be an excellent captain, but Helmer will always be my number 1!