Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bears drop decision in Rochester; Welcome Sound Tigers to Hershey

Well that was not the way you want to start an important weekend.  The Bears gave up 3 goals in the first 25 minutes of the game last night and were unable to recover.

Hershey did score twice to make the score look more respectable but in the end it was still a 3-2 loss to a last place team.

Tonight the Bears return to Giant Center and welcome a former East Division rival.  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers visit Hershey tonight for the first time since last April when the teams met in the first round of the playoffs.

Bridgeport is not the same team as they were when they made the playoffs last spring.  They currently reside in the cellar of the Atlantic Division and are not thinking playoffs at this point.

Things weren't so bad too long ago for the Sound Tigers.  Just a few weeks ago they sat at 19-19-3-3 and were hopeful to make up some ground and make a run at the playoffs. 

But since their last victory on January 22 they have gone 0-9-0-1 and are now aiming to just get a win.  They currently own the 3rd worst record in the AHL and are close to falling even lower.

During this stretch they have allowed 3 or more goals in 9 of the 10 games and have scored 2 or fewer in 7 of the 10. 

They got close to a win on Wednesday night when they managed to force a shootout against the Springfield Falcons before losing.

The Bears aren't exactly coming into this game playing that well either.  They have lost 3 of their last 4 games and the goal scoring that carried them through much of January has dried up substantially.  They have scored only 8 goals over their last 4 which is almost 1.5 goals per game below their season average.

Many things are contributing to the slide but all are just excuses that you can't have at this point in the season.  Now is the time to turn on the engine and make that push to the playoffs. 

Hopefully some of the injured players return over the next few days.  Andrew Joudrey, Brian Fahey, and Braden Holtby could all be back as early as tonight. 

But the player Hershey is missing the most is probably Andrew Gordon.  Gordo hasn't played since February 5 against Manitoba.  Since then Hershey is 4-3 but has been outscored 20-19 in those 7 games. 

The area where they miss him most is on the power play.  Since he went out Hershey has had 29 power play opportunities. 

They have 2 goals.

2 for 29 in their last 7 games on the power play and that includes a stretch over the last 6 where they haven't scored any.  During the last 6 games they have gone 0-23 on the power play.

Winning games is tough when you can't score with the extra man. 

Hershey Bears
record ~ 34-17-1-3 72 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 Loss @ Rochester, 2/18
last 5 games ~ 2-3-0-0
home record ~ 17-9-0-2
goals for ~ 186
goals against ~ 135
home power play ~ 23.1% (3rd)
home penalty kill ~ 87.3% (3rd)

Bridgeport Sound Tigers
record ~ 19-28-3-4 45 points
standings ~ Last in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 4-3 SO Loss @ Springfield, 2/16
last 5 games ~ 0-4-0-1
road record ~ 6-17-0-3
goals for ~ 144
goals against ~ 179
road power play ~ 19.4% (8th)
road penalty kill ~ 78.7% (24th)

last time teams met - This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season.  They last met during the 1st round of the 09-10 Calder Cup Playoffs where the Bears won the series 4 games to 1 on their way to the Calder Cup. 
Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin (11) - He averages an absurd 1.42 points per game but has only 1 point in his last 4. 
F Brian Willsie (37) - Still the team leader in goals (23) but he also leads the team, and the league, in power play goals with 14.  Only has 2 goals and 1 assist since Gordon left the lineup.
C Jay Beagle (21) - Came on last night scoring a goal and assisting on the other.  He is going to need to continue his sharp play to help the Bears win.

LW Eric Castonguay (45) - Has spent most of the season with Reading of the ECHL but has played in 4 games (the last 3) for the Sound Tigers and has 3 goals and 1 assist in those 4 games.  2 goals and 1 assist in the last 3.
LW Justin DiBenedetto (9) - Leads the team in goals with 13 despite only playing in only 34 games this season.  8 of those goals have come during their losing streak so you know he is playing hard.
RW Rhett Rhakshani (10) - Leads the team in points with 34 and is 3rd on the team with 10 goals.  But he hasn't been performing of late with only 5 assists (no goals) in his last 12 games.


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