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:
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)
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.
LET'S GO BEARS!!!