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.


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