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.

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