Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welcome Back Braden

It was good to see Braden Holtby back in goal for the Bears last night. He played a fantastic game and recorded his first shutout of the season as Hershey beat the Adirondack Phantoms 4-0.

I think Dany Sabourin is a solid goaltender but the difference in rebound control between the goalies is substantial. On Wednesday night every shot seemed to create a scoring opportunity for Worcester while last night I can only remember one or two rebounds that did that.

Although it does help when you are playing the Phantoms. They are embarrassingly bad this year. They have played 22 games and have won only 3. They sit in last place in the league with only 8 points on the season. They average about 2 goals a game and allow about 4 a game. And they already changed coaches this year!

Outside of the goaltending I would say that the closed door team meeting that was called after Wednesday night's game had an effect. In the 2 games since the Bears have scored 9 and allowed only 1.

Again though, let's keep in mind who the opposition was for those 2 games. We already talked about Adirondack but Syracuse isn't much better. They reside in 2nd to last in the league with 16 points in 20 games. Definitely more competitive but still lacking in overall talent.

The communication definitely seemed better. They seemed to play with more cohesiveness. And they appeared to be playing better as a team instead of the lone wolf style they showed on Wednesday night.

There still needs to be more hitting but that will likely come as the playoffs get closer and games start to matter more.

This team has the talent to be a force in the league. What they need most is some continuity. Injuries and call ups are taking their toll on the teams overall development. It is hard to learn the tendencies of your new players when everyone isn't on the ice at the same time.

Keith Aucoin's injury hurts as he was developing a nice rhythm with Willsie before getting hurt. Now Perry is doing that but when Coiner comes back they will likely go back to their previous lines.

And the blue line is having those problems too. Souray, Collins, Kroll, and Fahey have all missed time due to injury or recall and Patty McNeill has yet to play a game this season. Knowing what your defensive partner is going to do is critical when the opposition is bearing down on the rush. And the only way to develop that knowledge is to play together constantly.

As the season rolls along this team will likely come together and become a legitimate contender. Right now though they are still finding their way. Some games are good like last night while others are a struggle like Wednesday.

Tonight the Charlotte Checkers make their first visit to Giant Center this season. They currently reside in 3rd place in the East division, two points ahead of Hershey. The Checkers started out the season slowly but have really picked it up in November. So far in November they are 9-2-0-2. They have lost only twice in regulation this month including once to Hershey.

The Checkers played in Worcester last night and Norfolk on Wednesday night. A busy travel weekend for them concludes with tonight's game in Hershey. Coming from Worcester overnight for a 5pm start in Hershey is not an easy travel day.

The Bears can make it a clean 3 in 3 sweep with a win tonight. After his performance last night I would expect to see Braden Holtby get the start again tonight.

A little more on the game tonight....

Hershey Bears
record ~ 12-8-0-1 25 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-0 Win vs Adirondack, 11/27
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 6-5-0-0
goals for ~ 80
goals against ~ 56
power play ~ 22.7% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 82.8% (15th)

Charlotte Checkers
record ~ 12-8-1-2 27 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Win @ Worcester, 11/27
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 6-4-1-0
goals for ~ 73
goals against ~ 70
power play ~ 20.2% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 88.5% (3rd)

last time teams met - This is the 3rd meeting of the season but the first in Hershey. The teams split the 2 games in Charlotte earlier this month.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Leads the league in goals with 15 and in points with 29. Has 8 goals in his last 8 games including 3 in his last 2. Also has 6 assists in that 8 game span.
C Mathieu Perreault (24) - Centering the top line in place of Keith Aucoin the diminutive pivot is 5th in the league in assists with 16 (tied with Nycholat). Also adding some goals with 4 in his last 4 games.
G Braden Holtby (1) - Probably the biggest key to Hershey's season he returned after a month in Washington to shut out the Phantoms last night. 6 games this year, 5-0-1 record with a ridiculous 1.65 goals against and a .944 save percentage.


C Zach Boychuk (11) - Leads the team in assists with 15 and is currently in the midst of a 5 game point streak. He has 2 goals and 6 assists in those 5 games.
RW Jerome Samson (17) - Leads the team in goals, 12, and points, 24. Has recorded a goal and 6 assists over the last 4 games including 3 assists last night.
C Zac Dalpe (19) - The rookie is tied for 2nd on the team with 9 goals but leads the team with an average of 1.08 points per game. 3 goals and 2 assists in last 3 games.


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