Monday, February 7, 2011

Bears earn 5 points in 3 games

Hershey entered the weekend 11 points behind the league leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the East division.

They complete the weekend only 6 points back with a game in hand.

Bears fans...we have a division battle on our hands!

Playing in front of goalie Todd Ford all weekend Hershey managed a win over Albany, a shootout loss over Manitoba on Saturday, and a handling of those same Moose on Sunday at Giant Center.

If you subtract the last 24 minutes from Saturday's game the Bears outscored the opposition 14-5.  Unfortunately you can't erase those 24 minutes when Hershey allowed 3 Manitoba goals. 

For some reason Hershey took their foot off the gas and stopped playing at both ends of the ice on Saturday night.  They didn't protect their goaltender and they couldn't keep their emotions in check.  Sure there some questionable calls (and no calls) by referee Chris Cozzan but Hershey can't let the referee affect the outcome.

Otherwise Hershey played very well all weekend.  They protected Ford and cleared rebounds and played with plenty of intensity.

And they finished well.  Very well. 

Sunday afternoon Hershey and Manitoba entered the 3rd period tied 1-1.  Both teams felt like they had a chance.  Then the Hershey offense showed up.  4 goals over the next 14 minutes and it was over.  And the Moose knew it. 

First 106 minutes of action between the teams = 48 penalty minutes...
Last 6 minutes = 44 penalty minutes.

Not a bad way to finish a back to back against another top team in the league. 

Now Hershey enters a brutal stretch of games.  Beginning Wednesday Hershey plays 20 games over the next 33 games.  13 of the games are on the road including 5 of the next 6.  And they aren't easy road trips.

This week Hershey travels to Manchester on Wednesday (7hrs, 430 miles), Providence on Friday (2 more hours, 100 miles), back to Hershey on Saturday (6 hours, 350 miles), Wilkes Barre on Sunday for a 3:00 game (almost 2 hours, 100 miles), and then they head to Norfolk for a Tuesday game (almost 7 hours, 650 miles).

Total time on the bus...24 hours.  1350 miles.  Over 7 days. 

That's rather brutal.  Throwing that home game in on Saturday was just mean spirited by the AHL.  If they had no game no Saturday it wouldn't be that bad a trip but a 4 in 5 followed by a Tuesday game, 5 of them on the road...that's tough.

Hershey's depth will be tested this upcoming week.  Andrew Joudrey, Andrew Gordon, Maxime Lacroix, Lawrence Nycholat, and Braden Holtby were all scratched last night due to injury.  With as tough a stretch as Hershey has coming up it will be imperative that some of those guys are ready to go. 

Hershey is 6 points back.  The Baby Pens also play 5 times in 7 days beginning tonight.  The Bears MUST come away with at minimum 6-7 points if they hope to keep pace with the Pens for the division lead.

Can the new goalies hold up?  Will DeMichiel even get to play?  Will Holtby be back?  What about Gordon? 

Plenty of questions...not a lot of time.


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