Sunday, January 30, 2011

Western Conference All Stars

A look at the players that will make up the 2010-11 AHL Western Conference All-Star team.  (*Any mention of organizational rank is from

  • Jake Allen (Peoria Rivermen) ~ 16-7-0 | 2.12 gaa (5th in the league) | .934 save % (3rd) | 5 shutouts (tied for 1st) - rookie is #4 overall prospect in Blues organization.
  • Mark Dekanich (Milwaukee Admirals) ~ 18-7-4 | 1.95 gaa (3rd) | .931 (4th) | 4 shutouts (5th) - 3rd year pro has already tied a career high for shutouts.
  • Curtis Sanford (Hamilton Bulldogs) ~ 18-9-1 | 1.72 gaa (1st) | .939 save % (1st) | 5 shutouts (tied for 1st) - 12th year pro has already tied a career high in shutouts and is 5 wins short of his career high (23).

  • T.J. Brodie (Abbotsford Heat) ~ 42 games | 3 goals | 17 assists | 20 points - rookie is #4 prospect in Flames organization. 
  • Brian Connelly (Rockford IceHogs) ~ 45 games | 4 goals | 23 assists | 27 points (14th among AHL defensemen) - 2nd year pro has tied a career high for goals in a season.
  • Maxim Noreau (Houston Aeros) ~ 51 games | 7 goals | 23 assists | 30 points (9th among defensemen) - #11 prospect in the Wild organization.
  • Nathan Oystrick (Peoria Rivermen) ~ 36 games | 10 goals (tied for 2nd among defensemen)| 18 assists | 28 points (10th) - 5th year pro is on pace for career highs in goals and points.
  • Paul Postma (Chicago Wolves) ~ 52 games | 8 goals | 27 assists (tied for 1st among defensemen) | 35 points (2nd) - 2nd year player is #2 defenseman in Thrashers system.
  • Clay Wilson (Rochester Americans) ~ 47 games | 8 goals | 23 assists | 31 points (6th) - 6th year pro is approaching a career high in goals.
  • Keith Aulie (Toronto Marlies) ~ 34 games | 3 goals | 6 assists | 9 points - 2nd year pro is #1 defenseman prospect in Toronto organization.
  • Mathieu Carle (Hamilton Bulldogs) ~ 39 games | 8 goals | 8 assists | 16 points - 4th year pro has already set a career high in goals and he leads the Bulldogs with a +15 rating.

  • David Desharnais (Hamilton Bulldogs) ~ 35 games | 10 goals | 35 assists (2nd in league) | 45 points (9th) - 4th year pro is #10 prospect in Montreal system.
  • Linus Klasen (Milwaukee Admirals) ~ 38 games | 20 goals (9th) | 19 assists | 39 points - playing in his first pro North American season after spending 3 years in Swedish Elite League.
  • Spencer Machacek (Chicago Wolves) ~ 45 games | 16 goals | 25 assists | 34 points - 3rd year pro is on pace for career highs in goals, assists, and points.  He is #4 overall prospect in Atlanta organization.
  • Brett MacLean (San Antonio Rampage) ~ 42 games | 18 goals (15th) | 24 assists | 42 points (13th) - 3rd year player is #2 overall player in Phoenix organization; will likely challenge his career highs in goals, assists, and points.
  • Max Pacioretty (Hamilton Bulldogs) ~ 27 games | 17 goals | 15 assists | 32 points - 3rd year pro has spent the majority of his pro career with the Montreal Canadiens.
  • Michal Repik (Rochester Americans) ~ 43 games | 8 goals | 32 assists (5th) | 40 points - 3rd year pro is #6 overall prospect in Florida system; he has already set a new career high for assists.
  • Sergei Shirokov (Manitoba Moose) ~ 42 games | 16 goals | 17 assists | 33 points - 2nd year pro in North America, he is the #4 overall prospect in Vancouver organization.
  • Mark Olver (Lake Erie Monsters) ~ 47 games | 20 goals (10th) | 11 assists | 31 points - rookie is #4 forward prospect in the Colorado organization.
  • Mathieu Beaudoin (San Antonio Rampage) ~ 32 games | 14 goals | 19 assists | 33 points - 4th year pro is 5 goals and 11 points away from tying his career highs.
  • Colin McDonald (Oklahoma City Barons) ~ 50 games | 24 goals (3rd) | 9 assists | 33 points - 4th year pro has already set career highs for goals and points and is only 3 shy in assists.
  • Francis Wathier (Texas Stars) ~ 44 games | 14 goals | 11 assists | 25 points - 6th year pro is on pace for a career year in goals, assists, and points.
  • Alexandre Giroux (Oklahoma City Barons) ~ 50 games | 25 goals (2nd) | 33 assists (4th) | 58 points (2nd) - named captain of the Western Conference by AHL; former Bear hero is on pace to set a new career high in assists.

Eastern Conference All-Stars

A look at the players that will make up the 2010-11 AHL Eastern Conference All-Star team.  (*Any mention of organizational rank is from

  • Braden Holtby (Hershey Bears) ~ 12-5-2 | 1.73 gaa (2nd in the league) | .939 save % (2nd in the league) | 5 shutouts (tied for 1st in the league) - has only played in 20 games due to NHL recall this season.
  • Martin Jones (Manchester Monarchs) ~ 17-5-0 | 2.17 gaa (8th) | .930 save % (5th) | 2 shutouts - a rookie currently #2 goaltender in Kings system.
  • John Curry (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) ~ 18-8-0 | 2.46 gaa | .906 save % | 1 shutout - replaced teammate Brad Thiessen in the lineup.
  • Erik Gustafsson (Adirondack Phantoms) ~ 45 games | 4 goals | 24 assists | 28 points (12th among defensemen in AHL) - rookie is #8 overall prospect and #4 defenseman in Flyers system.
  • Justin Braun (Worcester Sharks) ~ 29 games | 4 goals | 13 assists | 17 points - rookie has spent 15 games with San Jose in the NHL this season earning 1 goal and 8 assists.
  • John Moore (Springfield Falcons) ~ 47 games | 3 goals | 15 assists | 18 points - rookie is #3 prospect in Columbus organization.
  • Brian Fahey (Hershey Bears) ~ 34 games | 3 goals | 14 assists | 17 points - 8 year veteran made his NHL debut for the Capitals this season playing in 7 games during his call ups.
  • Bryan Rodney (Charlotte Checkers) ~ 47 games | 6 goals | 20 assists | 26 points - the 4th year player is 1 goal short of tying his career high in goals.
  • Viatcheslav Voynov (Manchester Monarchs) ~ 46 games | 11 goals (1st among AHL defensemen) | 25 assists | 36 points (1st among defensemen - 3rd year player has tied his career high in goals; #6 prospect in the Kings system.
  • Robert Bortuzzo (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) ~ 47 games | 2 goals | 16 assists | 18 points - 2nd year player is #6 prospect in Penguins system; 2nd on the Baby Pens with a +16 rating.
  • Mark Wotton (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) ~ 46 games | 3 goals | 5 assists | 8 points - former Bear defensemen (05-06 season) was named Eastern Conference captain by the AHL

  • Luke Adam (Portland Pirates) ~ 27 games | 12 goals | 14 assists | 26 points - rookie is #4 prospect in Sabres organization; has played 18 games for the Sabres this season.
  • Matt Anderson (Albany Devils) ~ 42 games | 16 goals | 16 assists | 32 points - leads the Devils in goals and points; has already tied his career high in goals.
  • Bobby Butler (Binghamton Senators) ~ 44 games | 21 goals (1st among rookies, 8th overall) | 11 assists | 32 points - #7 prospect in the Ottawa system; leads the Senators in goals.
  • Andrew Gordon (Hershey Bears) ~ 38 games | 21 goals (7th) | 23 assists | 44 points (10th) - 4th year pro is coming off career highs in goals and points and is on pace to set new highs this year.
  • Johan Harju (Norfolk Admirals) ~ 37 games | 16 goals | 15 assists | 31 points - 1st season in North America, he is leading Norfolk in goals.
  • Corey Locke (Binghamton Senators) ~ 43 games | 16 goals | 44 assists (1st) | 60 points (1st) - 7 year veteran is on pace to shatter his previous career high in points, 85.
  • Kyle Palmieri (Syracuse Crunch) ~ 32 games | 11 goals | 8 assists | 19 points - rookie is #4 prospect in Anaheim organization.
  • Rhett Rakhsahi (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) ~ 42 games | 10 goals | 24 assists | 34 points - rookie leads the Sound Tigers in assists and points; #9 prospect in Islanders system.
  • Jerome Samson (Charlotte Checkers) ~ 49 games | 23 goals (4th) | 22 assists | 45 points (4th) - leads the first year Checkers in goals and points.
  • Jeremy Williams (Connecticut Whale) ~ 49 games | 22 goals (6th) | 18 assists | 40 points (17th) - 7th year pro leads the Whale in goals and points.
  • Jamie Arniel (Providence Bruins) ~ 46 games | 14 goals | 16 assists | 30 points - 2nd year pro has set a career high for goals; leads the Bruins in goals and points; #8 prospect in Boston organization.
  • Eric Tangradi (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins) - 42 games | 18 goals (16th) | 14 assists | 32 points - 2nd year pro is #1 overall prospect in Penguins organization; has set a new career high in goals this season.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bears beat Checkers in defensive struggle

Two of the highest scoring teams in the AHL this season took the ice at Giant Center this afternoon.  Coming in to the game both teams were averaging about 3.5 goals per game.

1 goal was

Sheldon Souray picked up his 3rd goal of the season midway through the 3rd period and Braden Holtby made 24 saves as the Bears picked up win number 29 on the season.

It was not a well played game however.  Both teams turned the puck over on almost every rush and it wasn't all due to excellent defense, although some of it was.

Referee David Banfield didn't help the cause as he called 20 different penalties and awarded Charlotte with 11 separate power plays.

I am convinced that Banfield just wasn't watching the action.  Many of the calls he made were from actions behind the play and multiple times he missed what I am quite certain constitute penalties in hockey.

But in the end the Bears penalty kill was up to the task as they killed off an amazing 11 power plays which included a full 2:00 5 on 3 and a stretch in the 2nd period where Hershey was penalty killing for 6 minutes out of about 6:30.

An impressive night for the penalty kill.

Not so much for the offense who definitely appeared to be feeling it after the late night of travel and early game time.  And it wasn't just the Bears, Charlotte had plenty of trouble as well.

In the end a 4 on 3 power play proved to be the difference for the Bears.  Those are tough power plays to kill off because teams don't practice them often.  You practice 5 on 4 and you practice 5 on 3 but 4 on doesn't happen much so it surely doesn't get a ton of work.  And you could see that from Charlotte.  When they were down 5 on 4 they were super aggressive but when they went 4 on 3 they seemed to play it more like a 5 on 3 and stayed back.

There is so much open ice in that situation that it was just a matter of time.

Big win for the Bears...for many reasons, some of which weren't known at the time.
  • Charlotte is now a full 4 points behind Hershey....
  • Norfolk lost and is now a full 3 points behind Hershey....
  • and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton lost so the Bears are just 11 points behind the Baby Pens.
11 points back with 5 head to head matchups to go....anything is possible.


Bears beat Sens for 5th time; Welcome Checkers to Hershey

5 straight wins and coincidentally 5 straight games with a goal for Brian Willsie. 

Hershey jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Boyd Kane (his 12th) goal less than 5 minutes into the first period last night.  Then they let the Senators get back into it.  Less than 4 minutes into the 2nd period the Bears were trailing 2-1.

But they would not let their winning streak end.  A goal from Willsie (19) midway through the 2nd tied it up and Kyle Greentree's 17th of the season with less than 3 minutes to go in the game stood as the game winner.

Overall Hershey took 29 shots to Binghamton's 23.  Braden Holtby made his first start for the Bears in almost 2 weeks and picked up his 11th win of the season.

Norfolk lost in a shootout last night which allowed the Bears to take sole possession of 2nd place in the East division with 59 points.  Only 13 points behind the Penguins.

Next up for Hershey is an afternoon game against the Charlotte Checkers today.  It is a tough game for the Bears as they are finishing a 3 in 3 and surely a late night as they had to travel back to Hershey late after the game in Binghamton.

But Charlotte had to make a similar trek last night as they played in Adirondack last night, picking up the win 2-1.

With the win the Checkers moved to within 1 point of 3rd in the division and remain only 2 points behind Hershey for 2nd. 

Needless to say...this is a big game in the standings.

Charlotte has not won back to back games since December.  15 games since they won back to back.  They won last night.

Obviously that doesn't tell the whole story though.  The Bears and Checkers have played 6 times to date and overall it couldn't be any more even....

Goals Scored:
Hershey - 20
Charlotte - 20

Power Play Goals Scored:
Hershey - 5
Charlotte - 5

Wins in Hershey:
Hershey - 1
Charlotte - 1

Wins in Charlotte:
Hershey - 2
Charlotte - 2

The surprising thing is that only 1 game was decided by fewer than 2 goals and that was Hershey's shootout win in Charlotte.  3 of the games were decided by 3 goals. 

So they haven't been close games as far as the final score goes.  But the season series is pretty even.  Charlotte will make one more trip to Hershey next month and then that is it until possibly the playoffs.

Both teams should be able to get up for this game today considering the impact the game will have on the standings.  But it will be tough as well as both teams played and traveled last night and likely didn't get to Hershey until at least 1-2 in the morning.

Should be interesting.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Bears visit Binghamton tonight

Hershey comes off last nights win over Springfield and heads north on I-81 to Binghamton to take on the Senators.

This is the 7th meeting of the season between the teams with Hershey handling the Sens this season going 4-2 against them to date. 

Tonight is Hershey's final trip to Binghamton during the regular season while the Sens make one more trip to Hershey yet this year.

If you think that Hershey has dominated this season series you would only be half right.  Sure Hershey has outscored the Sens 28-11 in the 6 games and yes they have 4 wins.  But 18 of those goals came during games in Hershey.

The last 2 games in Binghamton (one just a couple weekends ago) resulted in a 2-1 Hershey loss.  In fact it was the Bears last loss as they have won 4 straight since then.

In Binghamton Hershey has lost 2 straight and while they have outscored the Sens 10-7 in New York, 7 of those goals came in one game back in early October. 

Binghamton is a tougher team at home then they are on the road and they have controlled Hershey in the last 2 games there.


A couple thoughts and then some information about the Bears and Sens:
  • Expect Braden Holtby to get the start tonight as Dany Sabourin has played the last 4 games and with another 3 in 3 (including an early Saturday game on the back end) Dany will need to be fresh.
  • Reportedly Mathieu Perreault and Jay Beagle will not actually be reporting to Hershey.  Apparently it was simply a 'paper' transaction and neither player will officially be playing for the Bears anytime soon.  I am not sure why they would do this transaction so I am not convinced that one or both won't be back sometime soon.  The Caps will have a full roster (almost) after the All-Star break as Alexander Semin is expected back then.  Tom Poti, I think is banged up right now, and Tyler Sloan, who is on a conditioning assignment in Hershey, are the only 2 players that remain out of the lineup.  When they are back, the Caps have a full roster of 23 players.  So as I said before...I am not convinced that the two players won't be reporting to Hershey at some point in the near future.



Hershey Bears
record ~ 27-14-1-2 55 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Win vs Springfield, 1/27
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 12-6-1-1
goals for ~ 154
goals against ~ 105
power play ~ 21.9% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 83.7% (12th)


Binghamton Senators
record ~ 23-19-2-3 51 points
standings ~ 5th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Adirondack, 1/26
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 12-8-2-2
goals for ~ 152
goals against ~ 133
power play ~ 22.2% (3rd)
penalty kill ~ 81.7% (19th)


last time teams met - 7th meeting of the season.  Hershey lost 2-1 in Binghamton on January 16.  Overall Hershey has gone 4-2-0-0 against the Senators this season.

Players to watch:


RW Andre Gordon (10) - Leading the team in goals (21) and points (43).  5th in the league in goals and 8th in points.  He has a 4 game point streak with 3 goals and 4 assists in that time.  Has 3 goals and 4 assists against the Senators this season.
F Brian Willsie (18) - Second on the team in goals (18) and points (42).  He has scored in 4 straight games.  5 goals and 3 assists in those 4 games.  He has 3 goals and 6 assists against the Senators this season.
RW Francois Bouchard (22) - Has been playing better in the seasons second half with 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.  Has 14 points this season with 6 of them (3 goals, 3 assists) coming against the Senators.


C Corey Locke (84) - Leading the team and the league in points (59) and assists (43).  Has at least one point in 12 of his last 13 games.  Multi point games in 17 games this season including 6 of the last 13.  5 goals and 18 assists in his last 13 games.
LW Kaspars Daugavins (26) - Only 7th on the team in goals (9) and points (29) but he has 1 goal and 9 assists in the last 10 games.
RW Ryan Keller (28) - Second on the team in goals with 17.  He has 9 goals and 4 assists since December 31.


Bears escape with 4-3 victory over Springfield

The game started off well enough.  Hershey jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and at the 8 minute mark in the 2nd period it was 3-1.  The Bears were creating turnovers and scoring chances every single shift for the first half of the game.

And then they took their foot off the gas while the Falcons started playing with more urgency.  For the final 30 minutes Hershey was routinely stuck in their own zone fighting in the corners and turning the puck over each time they touched it.

Hershey recorded 23 shots in the game, 6 of which came in the third period.  You can see how the game went by the shots...9 in the first period, 8 in the second, and only 6 in the third.  A slow but steady falloff which almost resulted in a lost point. 

Springfield on the other hand struggled mightily early on.  They turned it over in their own end, couldn't complete passes in any zone, and looked overmatched by the Bears.  But they got better as the game went on.  8 shots in the first, 9 in the second, and 11 in the third as they made a strong push for the win.

They got close. 

John Moore scored midway through the 3rd period to make it 3-2 and Springfield was controlling the play. 

But Steve Pinizzotto wouldn't let it go.  He took a pass from Brian Willsie, stickhandled to the center of the ice, and waited long enough before shooting and scoring what would end up as the game winning goal.  It was Pinner's 11th goal of the season.

The goal happened about 30 seconds after the Falcons goal and Springfield never really recovered.  Sure, Kyle Wilson added a goal while 6 on 5 after Dany Sabourin whiffed on a shot at the empty net but Hershey managed to keep control of their zone for the finishing minutes.

Andrew Gordon (21), Willsie (18), and Sean Collins (3) also scored for the Bears while Sabourin made 25 saves on 28 shots to pick up the win.

It was an important win for the Bears as they are now tied for 2nd place in the East division as the Norfolk Admirals have dropped 3 straight. 

But the games get tougher tonight and tomorrow.  Sure, Springfield is a good team but it isn't a rivalry game (there was almost no animosity all night long) and they aren't a playoff team at this point.

Tonight the Binghamton Senators are on the schedule for the Bears while tomorrow brings the Charlotte Checkers to Hershey for an afternoon game before the All-Star festivities.

A 2pm game to finish up a 3 in 3...not an easy weekend.  But both teams are chasing the Bears for the 2nd spot in the East.  Charlotte sits in 4th, 2 points back while the Senators sit in 5th, only 6 points back.  A loss in either game likely means a move in the standings.

No time for rest.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Brian Willsie - picked up a goal and an assist to extend his goal scoring streak to 4 games.
  2. Kyle Wilson - he looked like the best player on the ice last night.  It was good to see him back in Hershey and based on the way he played I would say the Caps and Bears are disappointed that they don't have him now.
  3. Dany Sabourin - yeah he allowed 3 goals but he made some huge saves as his defense couldn't get the puck out of the zone.

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | B- | It started out great.  2 goals in the first period while controlling play in the neutral zone.  And then it all changed.  Puck possession was at a premium last night and the Hershey forwards struggled to keep the puck on their sticks a majority of the time throughout the 2nd and 3rd periods.  4 goals on 23 shots is still pretty impressive.
  • Defense | B | Solid for portions of the game but struggled mightily in the 2nd and 3rd periods when Springfield got the puck in the zone.  They managed to keep play along the perimeter but some questionable passes and positioning allowed too many good opportunities for the Falcons.
  • Goaltending | B | The 2nd goal was just a perfect shot and the 3rd was definitely a mistake on Dany's part (which he would likely admit to anyone) but other than that he was very good all night and probably deserves a majority of the credit for the win.
  • Power Play | B | Only had 2 chances but on the one PP goal they held the puck in the offensive zone for about 1:30 before scoring.  They controlled the play on that power play and it resulted in a goal.
  • Penalty Kill | C | Is it just me or does it seem that 1) Andrew Joudrey is taking too many penalties lately and 2) whenever he is in the box the other team scores?  He took an offensive zone penalty at 18:38 of the 1st and 10 seconds later it was 2-1. 
  • Overall | B- | Not the best game but definitely not the worst either.  4 goals will win the majority of games considering the goalies Hershey has.  But you have to be able to get the puck out of the zone better than they did during the 2nd and 3rd periods.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Reinforcements from Washington (Updated)

UPDATE:  Many of you probably already know and thanks to Melissa for leaving the comment below but the Perreault and Beagle transactions were simply paper transactions and neither player is anticipated to report to Hershey. 

I am not sure what the point of this is as both players are waiver exempt so there does not appear to be a need to do the transaction.  But there must have been a reason that I am not aware of.  Oh well.

This is big news considering the Bears are entering an unscheduled 3 in 3 with the 3rd game an afternoon start time....

Jay Beagle, Mathieu Perreault, and Braden Holtby have all been reassigned to Hershey by the Capitals. 

Honestly I figured Holtby would be reassigned so that he could participate in the AHL All-Star festivities since the Caps won't even practice again until Monday.

But the other two are surprises to me.  I am not 100% convinced that this is a permanent move.  It could be that they sent them down just so they could keep working through the NHL All-Star break. 

Whether this is temporary or permanent (as much as the AHL rosters can be) this is a welcome addition and it will be great to see Beags and Perry back in Bears uniforms!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bears/Falcons postponed until Thursday

For anyone who hasn't heard...tonight's game against the Springfield Falcons at Giant Center has been postponed until Thursday night at 7.

Not really surprised by this.  Considering it is HersheyPark pass night you know the place will be filled and with 4-10 inches of snow they would have trouble getting everyone in and out without a huge headache. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bears welcome Springfield Falcons to Giant Center

Tomorrow night the Bears will face off against the Springfield Falcons and former Bear Kyle Wilson for the first time this season. 

The Falcons currently sit in 6th place in the Atlantic division (tied for 5th and last) with 44 points.  This is the first of a 5 game road stretch that takes to Norfolk, Providence, and Bridgeport before returning to Springfield after the All-Star break. 

The Bears are finishing up a 4 game homestand that has seen them outscore the opposition 18-5 in 3 wins. 

Dany Sabourin has been the star of the show the past 3 games as he has stopped almost all of the shots he has faced.  He will likely get another game in against Springfield as Braden Holtby is not expected back in Hershey until after the weekend (although I would imagine the Caps would reassign him so he could partake in the All-Star game but I am not sure).

Hershey ran through most teams on their way to the Calder Cup in 2009-10 but Springfield is one team they couldn't entirely figure out.  In 2 games against the Falcons last season Hershey couldn't pick up a win.  They did pick up 2 points in the games but lost both in shootouts, 3-2 and 5-4.

So this years team will be looking to do something that last years team couldn't do (and that is not something they get to say much)...beat the Springfield Falcons.

A few more notes on the game tonight:

Hershey Bearsrecord ~ 26-14-1-2 55 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-1 Win vs Adirondack, 1/23
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 14-8-0-1
goals for ~ 150
goals against ~ 102
power play ~ 21.6% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 84.0% (12th)

Springfield Falconsrecord ~ 20-21-1-3 44 points
standings ~ 6th in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Win vs Bridgeport, 1/23
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 11-9-0-2
goals for ~ 135
goals against ~ 148
power play ~ 15.0% (23rd)
penalty kill ~ 84.2% (11th)

last time teams met - This is the first of two meetings this season (Hershey visits Springfield in March).  Last year Springfield won both matchups in shootouts, 3-2 in Hershey and 5-4 in Springfield.

Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin (11) - Mr. Consistent is doing it again.  He has recorded a point in 5 straight games for the 3rd time this season (previous streaks ended at 10 and 6 games).  He has 2 goals and 6 assists in his last 5 games.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Making incredible passes and continuing to score.  Currently sits 7th in the league with 21 goals and 8th in points with 40.  He has 2 goals and 3 assists in the last 3 games.
F Brian Willsie (18) - Currently 2nd on the team in points (40) and goals (17).  He had 4 goals and 2 assists this past weekend. 

Falcons:C Kyle Wilson (29) - The former Bear has only played in 2 games for the Falcons this season as he spent 31 games (4 goals 7 assists) with Columbus in the NHL.  He has a goal and 3 assists in 2 games.
LW Nikita Filatov (24) - #1 prospect in the Columbus system has played in 14 games for the Falcons this season after starting the season in the NHL.  He has 3 goals and 6 assists in those 14 games.
LW Dane Byers (34) - 2nd on the team in points with 28 and 6th in goals with 10.  He has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Bears finish strong

3 games.  18 goals scored.  5 goals allowed.  3 wins.  6 points.

And the Bears go from 4th in the East division to only 2 points behind 2nd place Norfolk.

That's a good weekend.  Hershey took care of Albany on Friday and Rochester Saturday before taking care of Adirondack yesterday evening. 

Last night saw a much slower start than the other 2 games this weekend.  The Bears didn't score their first goal until 2 minutes into the 2nd period when Francois Bouchard (6) put a puck in the top corner. 

From there Hershey pretty much dominated play despite having only 5 second period shots and 8 third period shots.  Of those 13 shots the Bears scored 5 times on Michael Leighton and the Phantoms. 

Andrew Gordon (20) continued his offensive production, as did Brian Willsie (17), while Patrick Wellar (3) and Sheldon Souray (2) also contributed some goals. 

Souray made it into the lineup a few days ahead of schedule and played his first game since December 17th.  He wasn't expected to play until Wednesday night but with some other players missing the game to injury (Fahey and Nycholat) the Bears needed another defenseman to go.

Dany Sabourin started for the 3rd time in 3 nights and looked exceptional again.  Overall for the weekend he went 3-0, allowed 5 goals, and stopped 94% of the shots he faced.  Not too bad.

Overall I would say it was likely the most complete weekend the Bears have played all season.  A week after scoring only 3 goals in losses to Lake Erie and Binghamton the Bears responded with 18 in 3 games.  12 different players scored a goal for the Bears this weekend.  12.  In 3 games.  

Some players took it to another level as well.
  • Brian Willsie - 4 goals and 2 assists this weekend
  • Andrew Gordon - 2 goals and 3 assists
  • Keith Aucoin - 1 goal 5 assists
  • Francois Bouchard - 2 goals 1 assist
  • Patrick Wellar - 2 goals 3 assists
  • Steve Pinizzotto - 1 goal 3 assists
Those are good weekends for those guys.  Everyone on the team played well but those 6 really stood out on the scoresheet's.

The Bears can't lose this momentum though.  On Wednesday the Bears welcome Kyle Wilson and the Springfield Falcons to Giant Center.  Kyle had spent the entire season with Columbus in the NHL until this past weekend when he joined the Falcons for 2 games.  He had a goal and 3 assists in those 2 games.  Not a bad start.

Norfolk currently resides in 2nd place in the East division, 2 points ahead of Hershey.  They have 4 games to the Bears 3 this week with an extra game on Tuesday night. 
Charlotte sits in 4th, tied in points with the Bears as of today.  They have 3 games this week including a visit to Hershey on Saturday afternoon.

Hershey needs to be ready for their games this week.  They can not afford to have a let down after 3 great wins.  They need to at least keep pace with Norfolk and Charlotte heading into the All-Star break.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bears shut down Rochester to win 2nd this weekend

A back and forth game for the first two periods turned into a dominant performance for the Bears in the third last night as Hershey beat the Rochester Americans 5-1 at Giant Center.

For the first 40 minutes it seemed that neither team could get the puck out of their own zone.  One minute it is in the Hershey zone, the next in the Rochester zone.  The majority of many games are played in the neutral zone but the first two periods seemed like the teams barely stepped foot in the middle section of the rink. 

And then the 3rd period hit and Hershey took over.  They were controlling the puck more in the first 2 periods as well but couldn't get anything in the net and Rochester had plenty of possession then as well.

In the 3rd though Hershey had 5 more shots than Rochester and scored 3 of their 5 goals to put the game away.

Andrew Gordon (19), Keith Aucoin (12), Brian Willsie (16), Patrick McNeill (1), and Ashton Rome (7) picked up the goals for the Bears while Dany Sabourin made 25 saves on 26 shots to pick up the win. 

The Bears are now tied for 3rd place in the East division as the Charlotte Checkers were off last night.  Hershey sits only 4 points behind Norfolk for the 2nd spot in the East.


Next up is the Adirondack Phantoms who are definitely still improving.  While they remain in last place in the East division they are only 6 points behind Syracuse and Albany, who are tied for 6th. 

The Phantoms and Bears played as recently as last Friday with the Bears winning 3-0 in Glens Falls.

Adirondack has played a tough schedule over the past week.  They had the Bears last Friday, Wilkes-Barre on Saturday before getting a slight break with Syracuse on Sunday.  They they played the Pens again this Friday, welcomed Hamilton last night and now visit Hershey tonight.

10 days, 6 games, 3 against division leaders, 2 against the back to back Calder Cup Champs, and one against the team you are chasing in the Standings.

Definitely a test kind of week.  So how have they done?  Not bad...2-2-0-1 with wins over the Pens and Syracuse, losses to the Pens and Bears, and a shootout loss last night vs Hamilton.

They are a team that will likely play spoiler the rest of the way and could, if everything falls right, challenge for a playoff spot.

Over this past stretch they have scored 14 goals in 5 games while allowing only 13.  Definitely not bad considering the competition.

Tonight the Bears welcome them to Giant Center for the 4th and final time this season.  Hershey visits Glens Falls twice in March.  Things have not gone well for the Phantoms in Hershey this season.  The Bears have won all 3 and have outscored them 13-3 in those games.

But those games took place back in October and November when the Phantoms were a much different team.  Since the last game in Hershey between the two, November 27, the Phantoms are 10-10-0-2.  Much better than their season record of 13-27-2-3.

This is another big game for the Bears in the standings.  Norfolk has the night off while Charlotte visits Wilkes-Barre.  If Hershey can win they will be only 2 points behind the Admirals for 2nd in the division and will have either extended their lead over Charlotte or gained ground on the Pens.  Important game tonight.

A few more notes on the game tonight:

Hershey Bears
record ~ 25-14-1-2 53 points
standings ~ 3rd in East Division
most recent game ~ 5-1 Win vs Rochester, 1/22
last 5 games ~ 3-1-0-1
home record ~ 13-8-0-1
goals for ~ 145
goals against ~ 101
power play ~ 21.6% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 84.2% (10th)

Adirondack Phantoms
record ~ 13-27-2-3 37 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Loss vs Hamilton, 1/22
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 6-15-1-2
goals for ~ 101
goals against ~ 157
power play ~ 14.7% (24th)
penalty kill ~ 82.5% (18th)

last time teams met - The Bears won 3-0 on the road last weekend (Friday the 14th) over the host Phantoms.  Overall Hershey is 4-1 against the Phantoms this season.

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11) - He has been as consistent a scorer for the Bears as anyone.  He leads the team in assists (26) and in points per game (1.52) despite missing 16 games this season due to injury or recall. 
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Showing you why he is a highly regarded player in the organization.  The scoring hasn't been as prolific but the passing the last 2 nights was impressive.  Two passes the past two nights were works of genius.
F Brian Willsie (16) - Has recorded a point in each of the 5 games against the Phantoms this season.  3 goals and 2 assists in those games.


LW Michael Ryan (14)
- Tied for 2nd on the team with 10 goals.  He has 7 goals and an assist in his last 10 games.
F Eric Wellwood (22) - Also tied for 2nd with 10 goals he has 2 goals and an assist in his last 2 games.
RW Stefan Lequin (9) - Has only played in 23 games this season and has 4 goals and 7 assists in those games.  Has played in only 4 games since November (the most recent 4) and has 2 goals and an assist in those games.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Rochester returns to Hershey tonight

Last nights game surely left both the Bears and the Devils a little tired.  But Hershey has to be ready to go as the Rochester Americans make their second trip to Hershey tonight. 

The first time they were here they skated away with the win as Hershey celebrated their home opener.  Surely the Bears want a little payback for that.

Rochester comes into the game having lost 8 of their last 10.  They have scored more than 2 goals only twice in their last 12 games and they lost one of those games.  They have 20 goals in their last 12 games.  20.  That isn't too many.  Especially when you are allowing 38 in those games.

They don't really have a true goal scorer on the team but they have plenty of playmakers.  They have 4 players with 20+ assists but only 2 players with double digit goals.  So while they aren't a top heavy team they do get production from the entire roster.  30 different players have scored at least one goal for the Americans this season.

With Charlotte's loss last night the Bears are only 2 points away from tying the Checkers for 3rd place in the division.  The Checkers do not play tonight so if Hershey can get the W they will move into a tie for 3rd place.

A few more notes on the game tonight:

Hershey Bears
record ~ 24-14-1-2 51 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 8-3 Win vs Albany, 1/21
last 5 games ~ 2-1-1-1
home record ~ 12-8-0-1
goals for ~ 140
goals against ~ 100
power play ~ 21.2% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 84.4% (9th)

Rochester Americans
record ~ 18-22-3-2 41 points
standings ~ Last in North Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Win @ Syracuse, 1/21
last 5 games ~ 1-3-1-0
road record ~ 12-8-2-0
goals for ~ 124
goals against ~ 150
power play ~ 20.6% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 78.0% (28th)

last time teams met - Rochester spoiled Hershey's home opener back on October 16th with a 3-2 victory.  Hershey won in Rochester 4-3 the weekend prior to that and the teams haven't met since. 

Players to watch:


C Keith Aucoin (11) - He has recorded a point in 20 of his 24 games this season including 2 goals and 3 assists against the Americans back in October. 
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Amazing pass last night on Fahey's goal.  He had a goal in each of the games against the Americans this season.
RW Francois Bouchard (22) - Definitely need him to play the rest of the season like he played last night.  Really seemed to want it more last night than he has all season.  Added a goal last night as well.


LW Michael Duco (14)
- Leads the team in goals with 13 but he has only scored one goal in 10 games this month.
RW Michael Repik (26) - Leads the team in points (36) and in assists (29).  His 29 assists rank 5th in the league.  He has 2 goals and 3 assists in 10 January games.
D Mike Kostka (28) - Second on the team in points (29) and assists (22).  He has 2 goals and 4 assists in his last 8 games.


Bears and Devils rack up 173 penalty minutes; Robitaille watches from section 112

Referee Ian Croft apparently didn't feel like calling minor penalties last night.  He let just about everything go and instead waited until the players took matters into their own hands and then he dished out misconduct penalties like they were candy and it was Trick or Treat night.

32 penalties total, only 9 of them 2 minute minors, 5 game misconducts, 3 10 minute misconducts, 14 fighting majors, and a 5 minute major for charging the goalie. 

That's an impressive stat line.  It's like he had a game misconduct quota that he had to hit this weekend.  If he would have just called a few minor penalties at the right time most of this would have been avoided.

But when Keith Aucoin is dropping the gloves to defend himself you know that the referee has officially lost the game. 

Trevor Bruess and Sean Collins got game misconducts for the Bears.  Louis Robitaille, Harry Young, and Brad Mills picked up the ejections for the Devils.

Robitaille's kid was there and after he was ejected Louis joined him in section 112 and watched the remainder of the game from the stands.  I replayed the charging call on Louis when he ran Sabourin and it was definitely intentional.  I had thought last night that maybe...maybe he made incidental contact but it wasn't.  Louis ran the goalie and got tossed for it.

And then he spent the game in the stands with his kid on his birthday.  So it worked out for him.

That set the tone for the game though.  The teams just went at it from then on. 

Joel Rechlicz and Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond went toe to toe twice with each getting a decision.  Leblond landed some pretty good shots in the first bout and Joel getting the upper hand the second time around. 

It was a crazy night at Giant Center.

Oh and the Bears won 8-3.  Almost forgot that minor detail.  Brian Willsie (14, 15), Steve Pinizzotto (10), Patrick Wellar (2), Brian Fahey (3), Francois Bouchard (5), Collins (2), and Greentree (16) picked up the goals for the Bears.

Sabourin played very well as he made 34 saves on 37 Albany shots to pick up his 3rd victory of the season over the Devils.  He had some tough saves to make and honestly I don't think Martin Brodeur would have stopped a couple of the goals.

Some other key points:
  • The second goal (Pinner's) on the power play was the direct result of players getting in front of the goalie.  For a good bit of that shift neither Pinner, Kane, Willsie, or Bouch would go to the front of the net.  They insisted on playing along the perimeter but once Pinner and Kane went to the front they scored.
  • Andrew Gordon's pass to Fahey on the 4th Bears goal was a thing of beauty.  From behind the net he looked up for one second and saw Fahey slowly creeping in and then made a perfect pass for one of the easiest goals Fahey has ever scored.  That is one example of why Gordo keeps getting recalled to Washington.  It isn't just the goal scoring from him.
  • The first goal allowed by Hershey was actually played pretty well by Zach Miscovic.  He was in good position but Alexander Vasyunov pulled some pretty sweet moves to beat him and then put the puck in the top corner when no one would have gotten it.  Just one of those times.
  • And maybe the best thing I saw last night.  On the 8th and final goal Kyle Greentree finally connected on a one-timer from Coiner on the power play.  Alexandre Giroux made his living scoring on those cross ice one timers from Aucoin but up until last night I hadn't seen Greentree do it.  If he can get that down and connect with regularity he could score 30 goals over the 2nd half of the season.

My Three Stars of the Game:
  1. Dany Sabourin - 34 saves after getting run by Louis definitely helped the cause
  2. Brian Willsie - right place right time on the first goal and then picked up a 2nd later
  3. Francois Bouchard - great effort last night.  Physical play in both ends and picking up a goal and an assist

Grading the Performance:
  • Offense | A | If you score 8 goals you have to be doing something right.  The defense was jumping in at the right time and the forwards were working hard for the entire 60 minutes despite the lead.  
  • Defense | B+ | Really there was only one lapse in judgement and I believe it came on the 3rd goal when the blueline got caught and the Devils took a 2 on none and scored.
  • Goaltending | A | Like I said...2 of the goals were probably unstoppable and he made tons of key saves to make sure that even without 8 goals the Bears would have won.
  • Power Play | B | Can't say they were dominant as they didn't seem to know what they were doing some of the time.  During the 5 minute major for Robitaille's play they couldn't get set up for the first 2.5 minutes.  They did score 2 power play goals though.
  • Penalty Kill | B | They killed off 6 of the 7 penalties but they have allowed a power play goal in all 3 games against the Devils this season.  And Albany is one of the worst power play teams in the league.
  • Overall | B+ | Hard to get a real rhythm when you have 173 penalty minutes but that was probably as complete a game as you can play in that situation.  Hopefully it didn't take too much out of them as Rochester comes to town tonight.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Hershey welcomes first of 3 New York teams this weekend

Tonight the Bears welcome the Albany Devils to Hershey for the first time this season.  They are the first of 3 New York teams to visit the mid-state this weekend as Rochester and Binghamton will be here Saturday and Sunday.

This is a rare 3 in 3 home weekend for the Bears.  In fact it is the only 3 in 3 weekend this season where all 3 games are in Hershey.

This also marks the beginning of a 4 game home stand as Hershey welcomes Springfield on Wednesday night.  Actually, only 2 of the next 9 games are on the road. 

So this makes a perfect time for the Bears to make a mini run at the 3 teams ahead of them in the standings.

But they will likely have to do it without Braden Holtby who remains in Washington and isn't expected back this weekend.  He played last night and won against the Islanders for the Caps.  He faced 25 shots and stopped all but 1 as the Caps won 2-1.

So that is the bad news heading into the weekend.  Although to address the comment left on the previous post I definitely think Dany Sabourin is playing better and will do fine for Hershey this weekend.

Now the good news headed into the weekend.  Andrew Gordon is back in Hershey, as is Brian Fahey but many of you might not even have known he was gone.  Gordo returns after missing 2 of last weekend's games due to a recall to Washington.  In those 2 games Hershey scored a combined 3 goals and lost both games. 

Gordon will definitely help on that front.

Albany comes in at an interesting time.  They sit in 6th place in the East division but are playing better of late and are flat out a better team on the road.  They have 17 wins on the season and 10 of those were on the road.  And of the 7 home wins, 3 of them have come in the last 2 weeks.

They lost on Wednesday night but had won 4 straight prior to that.  That win streak was on the heels of a 4 game losing streak in which they only scored 8 goals.  During the 4 game winning streak that followed they scored 13.

They also just wrapped up a stretch of 7 home games in their last 8.  So for a team that has played much better on the road (only giving up 2.9 goals per game on the road compared to 3.6 at home) they are surely looking forward to this mini 3 game road trip they start tonight before heading home for more home dates.

The Bears can't afford to take any team lightly this year as they are in a fight for their playoff lives whether or not they want to believe it.  Binghamton sits only 1 point back of the Bears for the 4th spot in the East division and Worcester sits at 47 points in 4th place in the Atlantic.

(I mention the Atlantic because with the East division having 8 teams this season the 5th place team could get into the playoff IF they finish with more points than the 4th place team in the Atlantic division)

Hershey starts the second half of the season with a nice home stand but also fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Every game counts.

A few more notes on the game tonight:

Hershey Bearsrecord ~ 23-14-1-2 49 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Loss @ Binghamton, 1/16
last 5 games ~ 2-1-1-1
home record ~ 11-8-0-1
goals for ~ 132
goals against ~ 97
power play ~ 20.6% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 84.4% (11th)

Albany Devils
record ~ 17-21-0-3 37 points
standings ~ 6th in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Loss vs Binghamton, 1/19
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 10-7-0-1
goals for ~ 105
goals against ~ 136
power play ~ 12.4% (28th)
penalty kill ~ 78.9% (26th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 3-2 in Albany on December 8.  The Bears also won 3-2 in Albany on December 3.  This is the Devils first trip to Hershey this season. 

Players to watch:


RW Steve Pinizzotto (13) - He hasn't scored (or recorded a point) in the last 2 games but has 9 goals and 11 assists on the season.  In 2 games against the Devils he has 2 goals, 2 shots, and 20 penalty minutes.
RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Spent last weekend in D.C. with the Caps but is back in Hershey for the 3 in 3.  He has a team high 10 shots against the Devils this season but no points.
G Dany Sabourin (35) - With Braden Holtby in Washington Dany will get at least 2 games this weekend and very well might play in all 3.  He is 2-0 with a 2.00 gaa and a .915 save percentage against the Devils this year.

C Matt Anderson (29)
- Leads the team in points (27) and is second in goals (15).  Has 4 goals in his last 6 games.  Also scored a goal in the 2nd game against Hershey in December.
C Michael Swift (23) - Leads the team in goals (16) and is second in points (26). Has not gone more than 2 games without a goal since November.  Has 7 goals in his last 10 games and 13 in his last 21 games including 1 against Hershey. 
C Adam Henrique (17) - #9 prospect in organization according to Hockey's Future.  He is third on the team in goals (11) and points (24).  Has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games. 
C Jacob Josefson (27) - #2 prospect in organization according to Hockey's Future.  He has only played 7 games with Albany this season but 6 of those are in 2011.  He has 1 goal and 5 assists on the season which puts him #1 on the team in points per game (.86).


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Braden Holtby heads to Washington

I was afraid of this.  I saw this morning that Michal Neuvirth got hurt last night and couldn't finish the game and figured Hershey was going to lose a goalie right before a 3 in 3 weekend.

And it will be Braden Holtby headed to Washington (or wherever the Caps are right now) to join the team. 

Semyon Varlamov and Neuvirth are both nursing injuries (surprise surprise) so Braden will likely get some action over the next 6 days as the Caps play 3 times.

Congratulations to Braden for the recall.  Nothing personal Braden but hopefully you are back in Hershey soon.

It's Dany Sabourin time in Hershey as he will likely get 2 of the 3 games this weekend with whichever South Carolina goaltender Hershey recalls (Todd Ford or Jared DeMichiel) getting the other game. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bears hit midway point on losing streak

We are officially at the midpoint of the 2010-11 regular season.  40 down, 40 to go.  And plenty of those games will be meaningful division games.

Just like last night's game against Binghamton.  The Senators now sit only 3 points behind Hershey for the 4th spot in the East.  Hershey has played 3 fewer games than the Sens but you don't want to be teetering on the playoff line too long.

24 of the remaining 40 will be against the division.  5 against the division leading Penguins, 6 vs 2nd place Norfolk, 2 against Charlotte (both at home), 2 against Binghamton, 4 vs Albany, 2 against Syracuse (both at home), and 3 against the Phantoms.

Overall Hershey plays 20 more on the road and 20 more at home.  Pretty good ratio. 

Hershey has 16 games remaining outside of the division.  10 of those are on the road with only 6 at home.  They still have to visit every team in the Atlantic division and will welcome 3 of those teams to Giant Center yet this season.

Of the divisional games, 10 will be on the road with 14 coming at home.  So a definite advantage there.

The most important part though will be how they adjust to injuries and callups.  So far they have done an admirable job but this past weekend showed some weakness.  After losing Andrew Gordon to recall on Saturday night they couldn't get any consistent offense together and skated to 2 straight losses to end the first half.

They scored 3 goals in those two games.  Definitely not enough, no matter how good your defense and goaltending are.

The injuries in Washington and recalls that result are unlikely to end anytime soon.  Mathieu Perreault may be closer to returning to Hershey then a few weeks ago based on how well Marcus Johansson has been playing of late.  If MoJo is given the 2nd line center spot going foward (he spent much of last night on the first line with Ovi) then Perry will likely head back to Hershey.

And that isn't a knock on his performance up there but third and fourth liners need to be consistent defensive players who can give you quality penalty killing minutes.  There are a number of centers that thrive on that type of role.

One of those players is Jay Beagle who may never return to Hershey.  Personally I think he is more likely to stay if/when the Capitals return to full health.  He can play multiple roles and has been doing so very well. 

Either way the callups will continue to some extent.  Gordon went up this weekend and a defenseman could be recalled at anytime. 

The Bears are going to need to be able to adjust on the fly.

On key to that is getting production from the 3rd and 4th liners in Hershey.  Particularly players like Francois Bouchard, Maxime Lacroix, Nikita Kashirsky, Ashton Rome, Dmitri Kugryshev, and Trevor Bruess.  Combined they have 18 goals and 25 assists in 169 games.  That's about .25 points per game. 

That means that your 3rd and 4th liners are producing 1 point every 4 games. 

That is simply not good enough.  They need to do more. 

Eventually the roster will get back to what it was at the beginning of the season with Perry and Gordon in the lineup every night.  But until then Hershey has to find a way to make things work.  Players have to step up and take bigger roles.  

Things will get better though.  Without Gordon in the lineup the Bears average only 2.9 goals per game...with him they average 3.4 per game.  That has been evident, especially this past weekend.  He will be back soon.

Even more impressive....

With Perry in the lineup the Bears average 3.7 goals per game...without him...only 3.0 goals per game. 

If both players return to Hershey (seems likely to happen) the Bears would be the #1 scoring team in the league with those numbers. 

What is the point of all this rambling....

If the goes the way we all think it will involving recalls and injuries...Hershey will be one of the best offensive teams in the league in addition to being one of the best defensive teams in the league. 

Currently the Bears sit in 4th place in the East division.  15 points behind Wilkes-Barre.

Once we get to April and the playoffs...that doesn't matter anymore.  Both teams start even.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sabourin and the Bears pick up win over Phantoms

Dany Sabourin was in goal on the 17th of December when the Bears lost to the lowly Phantoms in Adirondack. That game did not go well for Hershey and was the middle game of 3 straight losses.

Last night though Sabs got a bit of redemption. 25 shots faced, 25 saves. His second shutout of the season. It hasn't exactly been the year Sabs thought it would be. He struggled early this season losing 7 of his first 11 games and not winning a home game until the middle of December.

But things have turned around recently. He is 6-2 in his last 8 starts with a 2.57 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. Those numbers are on the uptick after starting the season 4-7 with a 3.87 goals against average and a .865 save percentage. Definitely an improvement.

And the Bears are playing better over that time as well. Hershey still sits in 4th place in the East division but they are only 3 points behind second place Charlotte, with 4 games in hand on the Checkers, and 1 point behind Norfolk, with 1 game in hand there.

So they are in pretty good shape to be honest. If Wilkes-Barre continues at even close to their current pace then the race for the division will be over. But we aren't even at the official halfway point of the season yet so anything is possible.

Hershey has registered at least one standings point in 7 of their last 8 games since that 3 game losing streak in mid-December.

Last night they picked up 2 with a 3-0 shutout over Adirondack. Brian Willsie (13th), Zach Miscovic (6th), and Steve Pinizzotto (9th) all scored last night and Dany picked up his 10th win of the season over the host Phantoms.

Tonight Hershey welcomes the Lake Erie Monsters to Hershey for the first of 2 meetings between the teams this season.

Lake Erie is in the midst of a 7 game road streak that ends after this weekend. They are 2-3-0-0 on the road trip so far. Last night they played in Rochester and there is probably a good chance that the Hershey and Lake Erie players were traveling down I-81 at the same time. Hell, they might have been racing to Hershey.

The Monsters are having an okay season this year. They currently sit in 6th in the very competitive North Division. They are 2nd from last in the division but only 10 points out of first place as of now.

To put that in perspective, the 6th place team in the East division is Albany and they are 13 points behind 4th place Hershey and 27 points out of first.

A few more notes on the game tonight:

Hershey Bears
record ~ 23-13-1-1 48 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-0 Win @ Adirondack, 1/14
last 5 games ~ 3-1-1-0
home record ~ 11-8-0-0
goals for ~ 129
goals against ~ 92
power play ~ 20.9% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 84.2% (12th)

Lake Erie Monsters
record ~ 17-19-3-4 41 points
standings ~ 6th in North Division
most recent game ~ 3-1 Win @ Rochester, 1/14
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
road record ~ 7-14-1-2
goals for ~ 109
goals against ~ 122
power play ~ 14.7% (26th)
penalty kill ~ 83.7% (14th)

last time teams met - First meeting this season. Hershey won both meetings in 2009-10. Hershey visits the Monsters on a Thursday in February.

Players to watch:


RW Steve Pinizzotto (13) - Has been on an offensive tear over the last 3 games. Goals in 3 straight and 2 assists as well. 5 points in 3 games is 25% of his points for the entire season.
LW Kyle Greentree (37) - Has a point in 5 straight games after picking up an assist last night. 2 goals and 4 assists in those 5 games.
D Lawrence Nycholat (28) - One of the most consistent players according to the scoresheet. The All-Star has 5 goals and 22 assists on the year including 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games.


LW Greg Mauldin (20) - Not certain he is playing but he shows up on the active roster for the first time since November after a 20+ game recall to Colorado. Has 5 goals and 7 assists on the season in only 14 games.
C Ryan Stoa (29) - Leads the team in goals (14) and is second in points (26). Has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 7 games.
C Julian Talbot (48) - The team leader in assists with 19 also has 6 goals on the season and sits 3rd on the team in points with 25. He has an assist in 3 straight games.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Bears head to New York to face the Phantoms

This is not the same Phantoms team that everyone has seen all year. Since Hershey lost to them on December 17 they have gone 6-2-0-2. That stretch has actually more than doubled their win total from when they beat Hershey.

The youth on the team, 5 of their top 9 scorers are rookies, is beginning to play together as a team and the results are starting to come.

Add to that a couple of good goaltenders who were both expected to compete in Philadelphia before the season started (Michael Leighton and Johan Backlund) and you have a pretty good team developing.

The addition of Denis Hamel has definitely helped as the veteran winger has scored 12 goals in only 26 games. And he is the leading scorer so it was definitely needed.

Trades have also helped their cause. Michael Ryan came over from Springfield 14 games ago and has since scored 8 goals for the team including a goal in each of the teams 5 2011 contests.

Danny Syvret also returned to the club via a trade and he has produced 5 goals and 7 assists in his 19 games with the team.

As the young players, including team points leader and AHL All Star Erik Gustafsson, continue to develop and learn each others tendencies and styles this team will become increasingly difficult to beat. They remain 20 points behind Hershey in the division so if they hope to make the playoffs they need to keep the pace they have generated the past 10 games.

Their games are almost always close. 5 of their last 6 have gone to a shootout. And only 2 of their last 10 games have been decided by more than 2 goals, both losses.

So expect a close game tomorrow night in New York.

Hershey comes into the game having only played 2 games over the past 11 days, which is good because now they have back to back 3 in 3 weekends leading into a 3 in 4 stretch before the All Star break.

Not an easy travel situation for Hershey this weekend either. Not terribly difficult either but a trip today up to Glens Falls for Friday's game, with a trip home after the game for Lake Erie on Saturday, and then back up I-81 for a game in Binghamton on Sunday at 5.

Not the worst trip they will make this season but definitely a tough stretch considering that they haven't played in a while and haven't ridden a bus since 2010.

Some good news though as Hershey will have forward Brian Willsie for the weekend as he was reassigned by Washington after the Caps game last night and is on the trip to New York.

Curious to see who the Bears get to face in goal tomorrow night as Michael Leighton settles into his 2nd go around with the Phantoms. Leighton last played regularly in the AHL during the 07-08 season in Albany where he put up some pretty good numbers, 28-25-4, 2.10 gaa, and a .931 save percentage.

He cleared waivers and was reassigned to the Phantoms this past week and made a start last Friday in Abbotsford, picking up a shootout loss to the Heat.

He is a good goalie that played well for the Flyers last year but was expendable due to the depth they have in Philly right now.

It should be a good game.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 22-13-1-1 46 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 OT Loss @ Manitoba, 1/8
last 5 games ~ 3-1-1-0
road record ~ 11-5-1-1
goals for ~ 126
goals against ~ 92
power play ~ 20.8% (6th)
penalty kill ~ 83.6% (13th)

Adirondack Phantoms
record ~ 11-25-2-2 26 points
standings ~ Last in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 SO Loss @ Abbotsford, 1/8
last 5 games ~ 3-0-0-2
home record ~ 6-10-1-0
goals for ~ 87
goals against ~ 142
power play ~ 15.7% (21st)
penalty kill ~ 81.8% (18th)

last time teams met - Adirondack won 3-1 at home on December 17. This will be the 5th meeting between the teams this season (Hershey has 3-1 record) but only the 2nd in New York.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Hershey's leading scorer has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - He had no points last game, breaking his point per game streak. Overall he has been playing well though with 5 goals and 8 assists in his 9 games since coming back from an injury.
RW Dmitri Kugryshev (15) - Starting to get some quality time both at full strength and on the power play. Has 4 goals and 7 assists on the season. 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 games.


LW Michael Ryan (14) - Has only played 14 games for the Phantoms this season but has 8 goals and 2 assists in those games. That includes goals in 5 straight games to start 2011. 6 goals in those 5 games.
F Eric Wellwood (22) - The rookie currently sits at 3rd on the team in goals with 8. He has 3 assists in his last 5 games.
LW Denis Hamel (17) - The team leader in goals with 12 he has a point in 4 straight games. 1 goal and 3 assists in those games. He scored twice in the Phantoms win over Hershey last month.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All-Star Discussions

The NHL is rolling out a new All-Star format this season. The new format, which allows for the captains of each team to choose their team. It has been discussed by everyone, bloggers, 'official' media, talking heads on TV,,, and even at BetUS sports betting news.

Personally I think it is a great idea. And I am actually looking forward to watching some of the game this year which is not typical. The captains, whom I do not think have been named as of yet, will pick their teams on Friday the 28th with the skills competition happening Saturday night on the 29th. Then the game itself is Sunday, January 30 at 4pm.

Definitely something different...a pick-up game style. At the very least it makes Friday night more interesting to see which players the captains consider to be more 'important' when building a team.

The AHL All Star festivities are coming up too. They will take the more traditional East vs West format. Although in years past you saw Canada vs the World and things like that. I am definitely happy to see an Eastern Conference vs Western Conference format this season.

Unfortunately the AHL skills competition is scheduled for 3pm Sunday, January 30. Which means if you go to Hershey to see the Bears and the other AHLers you will likely miss a good portion of the NHL game. But it will definitely be worth it. You know why?

Because a former Bear is returning to Hershey for the first time since June and the reception is likely to be pretty impressive.

Alexandre Giroux will be back in Hershey for the first time since June when he captains the Western Conference team on January 31. G played 296 games (playoffs included) for the Bears over the course of 4 different seasons. He scored 202 goals and added 165 assists during that time.

I am definitely excited to hear the reception when he is announced at both the Skills Competition and the All Star Game itself.

Also, a big congratulations to Andrew Gordon, Lawrence Nycholat, and Braden Holtby for earning a spot on the Eastern Conference team. They are all very deserving.
  • Andrew Gordon, despite missing 7 games while in Washington, is currently 5th in the league in goals scored with 18 and 9th in points with 36. He leads the Bears in both categories.
  • Lawrence Nycholat leads the Hershey Bears in assists with 22. He is currently 16th in the league in assists and 4th among defensemen.
  • Braden Holtby currently sits at 10-4-1 with a .935 save percentage and a 1.80 goals against average. He is 4th in the league in gaa, 5th in save percentage, and 2nd in shutouts (4).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bears come home from Winnipeg with 3 points

Friday night saw Andrew Gordon return to the scoresheet in a big way as the Bears leading scorer came away with 2 goals including the game winner with less than 30 seconds remaining. Hershey won the game 4-3.

Saturday night was a different kind of test.

Playing without arguably their 3 best penalty killers (Jay Beagle, Andrew Joudrey, and Boyd Kane) the Bears gave the Moose 12 power plays. Of which they converted 3 of them. I know from watching part of the game on that some Hershey fans weren't pleased with the job referee Andy Thiessen did last night.

They questioned many of the calls including the call on Sean Collins for tripping at 4:19 of overtime. In my personal opinion the calls weren't that bad. I missed the first period so not including those 5 I would say that of the other 7, 6 were warranted. The only one I truly question was the call on Francois Bouchard midway through the 2nd.

The calls on Collins (slashing and tripping) were dead on. The penalty on Holtby was necessary. As an official you have to make those calls. If those plays had happened TO the Bears we all would have been screaming for calls to be made.

Hershey just didn't seem all there last night. On the Collins call that led to the winning goal I would say that Sean was left out to dry. I am not certain who was on the ice with him but they were not in position and Desbians got behind the defense and was skating in alone. Collins made an attempt to get the puck and almost did so but took down the Moose player instead. A call had to be made.

BUT if the rest of his linemates were paying attention and where they were supposed to be the situation would not have presented itself.

All in all it wasn't a bad game...we have seen much worse this season. But it wasn't what we have to come to expect recently.

Manitoba had to have this game. They had lost 6 straight to Hershey coming in and needed to keep pace with Hamilton in the North. They wanted this one more than the Bears and it showed.

Holtby made some huge saves but the offense never really found their rhythm. The Moose outshot Hershey 34-24 in the game and had more shots in every single period. Dmitri Kugryshev led the Bears with 4 shots. No offense to #15 but if he is leading the Bears in shots than the offense is not playing up to par in that game.

Much of the credit goes to Manitoba. They came out hungry and stopped the Bears offensively and held on for the win.

Overall it was a good weekend for Hershey. 3 points in 2 road games is a solid outcome. That other point would have been nice but there is still plenty of hockey to come. Hershey still sits in 4th place in the East division, 14 points out of first. But with Norfolk and Charlotte tied for 2nd with 47 points the Bears trail them by only 1.

As I mentioned before...there is still plenty of hockey to play. 43 games to be exact.

Hershey now has 5 full days with no games. Many players are surely fighting injuries (Joudrey didn't make the trip due to an injury) and this will give them the chance to heal up and be ready for back to back 3 in 3 weekends.

Next up...the surging (kind of) Adirondack Phantoms. More on them later this week.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bears visit Moose in Winnipeg

Hopefully every one's passports were in order as the Bears left Central PA today for the flight to Winnipeg, Manitoba to take on the Moose this weekend.

Hershey heads to Canada winners of 5 of 6 and playing as well as they have all season. This week gives Hershey something it hasn't had much of this season...a decent break. The Bears last played on Sunday evening, which makes 4 full days with no hockey. They play twice this weekend (tonight and tomorrow) before getting 5 full days off before they face the Phantoms next Friday in New York.

All in all a good time for some guys to heal up a bit and get ready for the season's second half. As of today the Bears are 13 points out of first but only 2 points out of 2nd in the East division. Wilkes-Barre is the only team in the league with single digit losses (8). And yes I know Norfolk only has 9 regulation losses but those last 2 categories in the standings also mean losses which gives them 17 losses on the year.

The overtime or shootout losses. They have legitimately only lost 8 times this year.

But we saw last week that they are beatable and while 13 points seems like a lot it is really just 6.5 wins. With 45 games to play the Bears definitely are still in the running for the division. And there are still 10 points available between the teams. If Hershey can sweep (difficult but not impossible) then they would only need 3 more points to get to the top of the division.

The end of the season is still a ways off though. Let's take a look at the Moose for the immediate future.

Manitoba comes into the weekend having won 8 of their last 9 games including 5 of 6 at home. They have closed the gap in the North division to just one point as they chase the Hamilton Bulldogs for the lead.

And looking at those 9 games makes it obvious that the Moose are definitely playing well at both ends of the ice right now. In those 9 games they have given up just 12 goals. Yes, 12...just over 1 per game. And they have scored 30. 30-12 in their last 9. 2 shutouts and 4 games with one goal allowed. That's an impressive run for any team.

Last year these teams met as well. 2 here in Hershey and 2 in Canada. The Bears won all 4. And overall it wasn't close as Hershey outscored the Moose a combined 21-8. But the 2 games in Winnipeg were close with Hershey winning 2-1 in a shootout for the first and 3-2 in the 2nd meeting.

So the Moose are likely looking for a different outcome this year. The last 5 games against Hershey have not exactly gone as planned. The 4 games last year were bad enough but remember that these teams also met in June of 2009...with Hershey winning the last game that season, game 6 to clinch the Cup!

Completely off topic but here is a fun stat for you....

Keith Aucoin has registered a point in 16 of his 18 games this season. That is seriously consistent. Overall he has 10 goals and 19 assists in 18 games.

He would be leading the Moose in points. In almost half the games of their leading scorer. How awesome is that?!


a few more notes....

Hershey Bears
record ~ 21-13-0-1 41 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-0 Win vs Norfolk, 1/2
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
road record ~ 10-5-0-1
goals for ~ 119
goals against ~ 85
power play ~ 20.4% (9th)
penalty kill ~ 83.6% (13th)

Manitoba Moose
record ~ 20-11-0-4 44 points
standings ~ 2nd in North Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 OT Win @ Abbotsford, 1/4
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 11-5-0-0
goals for ~ 102
goals against ~ 87
power play ~ 14.2% (26th)
penalty kill ~ 86.9% (3rd)

last time teams met - First two meetings of four this season. Manitoba visits Hershey on Super Bowl weekend for game Saturday and Sunday. Hershey has won 5 straight against the Moose.

Players to watch:


F Brian Willsie (18) - Nothing flashy but he gets the job matter what it is. He won't finish 1st in goals or assists but he will draws, kill penalties, and contribute where needed. Currently third in goals (12) and tied for second in points (31).
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Above mentioned stat is impressive but more to the point he has recorded a point in 5 straight games (5g, 5a)
LW Kyle Greentree (37) - Still scoring with 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 6 games. Overall he is 2nd on the team in goals (15) and points (31).


RW Sergei Shirikov (52) - Leading the team in goals (13) and points (28). He has been on a tear of late with points in 8 straight. 7 goals and 3 assists to be exact.
RW Guillaume Desbiens (41) - Not an offensive juggernaut (career high 21 goals in 08-09) but was reassigned to Manitoba on Dec 17. Since then they Moose are 7-1. Coincidence?
LW Bill Sweatt (42) - The rookie is 2nd on the team in points with 23 and 3rd on the team in goals with 8.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bears handle Admirals for 2nd time in 8 days

Last Sunday the Norfolk Admirals made their first trip to Hershey this season and left 3-1 losers. Since then they had lost their other 3 games for a 4 game losing streak heading in to Sunday evening's rematch in Hershey.

And this time they left 2-0 losers.

In 2 games the Bears have held the AHL's #1 offense to 1 goal. That equates to .5 goals per game, which is well below their season average of 3.7 goals per game.

Much of the credit goes to Braden Holtby who was in goal for both games. He faced 54 shots in those 2 games and stopped 53 of them. Not too bad.

In fact Holtby currently has a shutout streak of 173:37 spanning parts of 4 games. That started after Norfolk scored about 7 minutes into the 2nd last Sunday. Continued through the Wilkes-Barre shutout, 20+ minutes of shutout play against Syracuse, and then the Norfolk game this past Sunday.

Over his last 8 games he has given up 9 goals total. And that includes a 5 goal game against Charlotte in mid-December.

On the season his numbers are just as impressive. A 1.66 goals against average, good for 3rd in the league. A .940 save percentage, also good for 3rd in the league. 4 shutouts on the season, 2nd in the league.

Not too bad.

He doesn't deserve all the credit though. The Hershey defense is playing as good as they have in a long time. I know Karl Alzner and John Carlson were on the team last year but I think the 2010-11 defense is better as a unit than last year's team.

I remember playing against teams that consistently blocked shots and passes anytime Hershey got into the offensive zone. It was very frustrating to watch and I am sure play against.

That is Hershey's defense this year. Rarely does a team get a real good look against them. They consistently block shots and deflect passes. Once in a while something gets through but that's okay because it is no more than once or twice a game and typically Braden is there to keep it out of the net.

Hershey has allowed the 3rd fewest goals in the league with 85. That is behind only Wilkes Barre (79) and Peoria (77). Not too bad considering that they are also 3rd in the league in goals per game at 3.4.

Amazingly they are still only 4th in the division but that should change sooner than later.

Next up for Hershey is a trip to Canada to play the Manitoba Moose twice this weekend. After a 5 games in 8 days stretch they now get 2 games in 11 days. A good time for a break as the 2nd half of the season begins soon.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Hershey struggles against Syracuse, welcomes Norfolk back

Well New Years Eve didn't go so well did it? Was anybody that surprised by the 4-2 loss? I wasn't. Any team in any sport in any league on any level would have struggled in that game. Football teams have a week in between games and they would have struggled with a similar situation.

It happens all the time. Big rivalry game on the road and a return home for a game against a team that isn't having a great season and that you have personally beaten easily already. You are usually going to see teams struggle in those situations.

So it wasn't surprising. Disappointing...of course. You could just see in the effort that Hershey didn't have it. They weren't getting to loose pucks, they weren't taking the body as often, and they flat out weren't playing well at either end.

Dany Sabourin got the start and honestly didn't look terrible but he didn't look good either. A couple of the goals were surely the fault of the defense and I don't believe Coach French pulled Sabs because of his play. I honestly think he was just trying to spark the team and give them some energy.

It didn't work.

Hershey only started playing with intensity and desire late in the 3rd period. They managed to record 47 shots in the game, 21 of them in the 3rd period. I would argue that half of those shots could have been stopped by a high school kid playing goal but 47 shots is 47 shots.

Again, I was not surprised by the outcome. Not saying I was expecting it but the writing was on the wall. The players even acknowledged afterwards that they just didn't have the energy or the effort that they had the previous evening in Pittsburgh.

That win over Wilkes-Barre was big. It took a team effort and it was obviously an emotionally and physically draining contest.

But now the Bears have had a couple days to rest. Which is good because the high scoring Norfolk Admirals visit Giant Center tonight and they will be looking to avenge last Sunday's 3-1 loss in Hershey.

They haven't won since before that game having lost twice to Charlotte at home this past week and they lost last night against the Pens.

That's a tough week of games. You start off Sunday at the 2 time defending Calder Cup Champs, follow that up with 2 home games on Tuesday and Thursday against 3rd place Charlotte, then you head back to Pennsylvania for a New Year's night game in Wilkes Barre against the league leading Pens before finishing the stretch with an evening matchup back in Hershey where it all started.

The Admirals are going to be looking to make a statement tonight. This week they have lost 4 straight to teams they are competing with for the division.

They will not want that streak to reach 5.

Hershey better be ready tonight.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 20-13-0-1 39 points
standings ~ 4th in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-2 Loss vs Syracuse, 12/31
last 5 games ~ 4-1-0-0
home record ~ 10-8-0-0
goals for ~ 117
goals against ~ 85
power play ~ 20.6% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 83.2% (15th)

Norfolk Admirals
record ~ 18-8-6-2 44 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 Loss @ Wilkes-Barre, 1/1
last 5 games ~ 1-4-0-0
road record ~ 13-6-2-0
goals for ~ 130
goals against ~ 100
power play ~ 17.7% (14th)
penalty kill ~ 84.5% (9th)

last time teams met - This is the 2nd meeting of the season and the 2nd in the last 8 days. Hershey won 3-1 last Sunday at Giant Center.

Players to watch:


RW Andrew Gordon (10) - Hasn't scored in 2 games since returning from Washington but does have 2 assists. The scoring should return soon.
C Keith Aucoin (11) - Has a goal in 4 straight games and is averaging an amazing 1.59 points per game on the year. 5 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games.
LW Kyle Greentree (37) - Has started to find his scoring touch again having registered 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games.


C Mark-Antoine Pouliot (78) - Team leader in points with 28 he had a goal and 2 assists last night against the Pens.
C James Wright (16) - Second on the team in points with 26 he has 4 goals and 5 assists in his last 7 games.
LW Chris Durno (25) - One of 8 skaters with 20+ points (he has 23) he has 2 goals and 5 assists in his last 6 games.