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.


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