Hershey played a great game Sunday. Big props to both Boyd Kane and Pinizzotto for continuously taking the body against the Admirals and laying some big hits that definitely affected the play of some Norfolk skaters.
And big props to the captain, Andrew Joudrey. He is the only Bear to have played in all 31 games this season and he was instrumental in killing off a double minor assessed to Brian Willsie midway through the 2nd period. In the third period he was given the task of taking critical faceoffs in both the offensive and defensive zones and he routinely won them.
That was Hershey's first of 8 against Norfolk (game 2 is Sunday evening) and Hershey set the tone for the season series in Sunday's game. Big hits, big goals, and a controlled game plan that showed why Hershey can't be counted out of the divisional race.
The rest of the week is just unusual. Games on Tuesday and Thursday and no game on Saturday?!? Different, that's for sure.
Tonight Hershey welcomes the Binghamton Senators to Hershey for the 3rd time this season. It will be the 5th meeting between the teams this 2010-11 season with Hershey winning 3 and losing 1.
Hershey has ultimately dominated the Senators this year having scored 21 goals and giving up only 8 in the 4 games to date. That includes 4-0 and 8-3 wins at Giant Center.
But those games all featured something that tonight won't....Hershey's top 3 centers.
Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle were already on recall to Washington and this morning word came that Keith Aucoin was being recalled for tonight's Caps game vs Montreal. Ironically it is likely an injury to Perry (broken nose) that makes Coiner's presence in Washington a must for tonight.
So the Bears will again be dealing with a rag-tag lineup without 3 of their top 6 scorers (and 4 of the top 10). No telling when any of those players will be returning to Hershey but I would be shocked if Perry and Marcus Johansson (also nursing an injury) don't play in Saturday's Winter Classic. And with no games between tonight and Saturday I would imagine at least Aucoin will return in time for Thursday's trip to Pittsburgh.
Brian Willsie will likely become the #1 center with Joudrey and Trevor Bruess getting much bigger roles tonight. Joudrey and Willsie are in line for some huge minutes tonight as both will have to take on larger 5 on 5 roles, more power play time, and increased penalty killing time as well.
As far as the offense goes, luckily Kyle Greentree is not out of the lineup as he was a couple weeks ago when Hershey was dealing with a similar roster situation. He will be needed tonight to produce some offense if Hershey hopes to pull out the W.
I doubt Hershey will recall anyone from South Carolina unless there is an injury to a forward that we don't know about at this time. Grant McNeill and/or Joel Rechlicz will likely get a chance to play tonight to fill out the roster.
Binghamton comes in tonight having won 4 of their last 5. They bring with them 5 players with 10+ goals. Corey Locke leads the team in points with 40 (good for 2nd in the league too), rookie Bobby Butler leads the team in goals with 17 (also good for 2nd in the league), and Jim O'Brien, Erik Condra, and rookie Colin Greening all have had terrific months.
Only Butler has struggled of late as his scoring has definitely slowed down. He has only 3 goals in his last 12 games. But the other 4 have been producing. Since the beginning of December those 4 have combined for 16 goals and 22 assists in 9 games. And one of those games was the 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Bears.
Definitely an improving team visiting Hershey tonight.
A little more on tonight's game:
record ~ 18-12-0-1 37 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Win vs Norfolk, 12/26
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 9-7-0-0
goals for ~ 108
goals against ~ 80
power play ~ 20.4% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 83.2% (13th)
record ~ 15-13-2-2 35 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 7-1 Win vs Adirondack, 12/26
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 6-7-0-1
goals for ~ 105
goals against ~ 91
power play ~ 21.4% (4th)
penalty kill ~ 81.8% (20th)
last time teams met - This is the 5th of 8 meetings between the teams this season. Hershey won 4-0 at home on December 4th.
Players to watch:
RW Kyle Greentree (37) - He is currently #2 in goals and points amongst active skaters with 11 and 24 respectively. He has 3 goals against the Senators this season.
F Brian Willsie (11) - Likely playing center tonight he has 3 goals and 5 assists in 3 games versus the Senators this season. He is Hershey's active leader in goals (12) and points (26).
C Andrew Joudrey (23) - Already a top penalty killer he is likely to see an increased role tonight as he earns power play and top line play while 5 on 5. He 5 goals and 3 assists on the season.
RW Erik Condra (11) - 2nd on the team in points with 30 and tied for 3rd in goals with 11. He has 4 goals and 7 assists in 9 December games to date.
LW Colin Greening (15) - The rookie has 10 goals and 11 assists on the season and has scored in 4 straight games (5 goals during that time). He has 6 goals and 1 assist in December.
C Corey Locke (84) - The team leader in points (40) and tied for 3rd in goals with 11. Averaging 1.33 points per game. Keeping up with that average in December with 4 goals and 9 assists in 9 games.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!