Friday, February 18, 2011

Bears getting healthier as they head to Rochester

Some good news coming out of Bears camp this weekend...the Bears are getting healthier (kinda).

Braden Holtby, Andrew Joudrey, and Brian Fahey are all anticipated to return to action this weekend.  Holtby made the trip to Rochester and will back up Todd Ford tonight while both Joudrey and Fahey stayed in Hershey but could (COULD) play this weekend.

At the same time though Sheldon Souray did not make the trip to Rochester and is out with an upper body injury.  No word on what exactly that is but he won't play tonight for sure.

No real update on any of the other players including Andrew Gordon and Lawrence Nycholat...they still aren't practicing.

So Hershey begins this weekend even more short handed than they were on Tuesday but by the end of the weekend things could be returning to a bit of normalcy.

Tonight the Bears head up to Rochester to take on the North Division bottom dwellers for the 4th and final time this season.

So far the Bears are 2-1 against the Americans.  The first two meetings between the teams were close 1 goal games but the 3rd meeting (back on January 22) resulted in a 5-1 Hershey win.  Hershey has scored 11 to Rochester's 7 in those contests.

The Americans come into tonight's game having won 3 straight games while the Bears rebounded nicely after a subpar weekend to win on Tuesday night.

Rochester is actually one of the worst home teams in the AHL having collected only 23 of their 53 points on home ice despite having played 5 more games at home than on the road.

In contrast Hershey is actually better on the road than at home collecting half of their 72 points on the road despite playing 2 fewer road games than home.  Although their goal differential is definitely much weaker on the road (+14) compared to at home (+38).

Hershey follows up this road contest with home games on Saturday and Sunday against Bridgeport and Charlotte, respectively.  Not exactly a gauntlet kind of weekend.  Of the 3 games only 1 team is currently in playoff positioning as both the Sound Tigers and Americans reside in the cellar of their respective divisions.

In all honesty this is likely one of the easiest weekends remaining for the Bears and it is probably not too exaggerated to say that if they want to catch the flightless water fowl they need to sweep the weekend set and pick up all 6 points.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 34-16-1-3 72 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 2-1 Win @ Norfolk, 2/15
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
road record ~ 17-7-1-1
goals for ~ 184
goals against ~ 132
power play ~ 21.1% (5th)
penalty kill ~ 85.3% (6th)

Rochester Americans
record ~ 24-26-3-2 53 points
standings ~ Last in North Division
most recent game ~ 6-4 Win vs Worcester, 2/16
last 5 games ~ 3-2-0-0
home record ~ 10-17-1-2
goals for ~ 149
goals against ~ 173
power play ~ 20.1% (7th)
penalty kill ~ 79.9% (24th)

last time teams met - Hershey won 5-1 on January 22.  This is the 4th and final regular season meeting between the teams with Hershey owning a 2-1 record.
Players to watch:

C Keith Aucoin (11) - After not recording a point in Hershey's 2 losses last weekend the Bears leading scorer (15g, 39a) scored the game winner on Tuesday.  He has 3 goals and 5 assists against the Americans this season. 
F Brian Willsie (37) - Leads the team in goals (23), second on the team in assists (27), and points (50).  He only has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 4 games but he does have 2 goals and 2 assists in 3 games against the Amerks this season.
C Jay Beagle (21) - While he only has 1 assist since returning from Washington he is invaluable in other areas.  Getting some offense to go along with the defensive play would definitely help a thin Bears team tonight.

RW Bill Thomas (20) - Has 11 goals and 16 assists in only 37 games so far for the Americans this season.  He has scored in 3 straight and has a 4 game points streak going with 3 goals and 2 assists in those 4 games.
C Chris Taylor (12) - 4th on the team in points with 30 (8g, 22a) he has scored in 2 straight games.
D Clay Wilson (5) - 2nd on the team in points with 39 (8g, 31a) he has been red hot of late.  7 (yes 7) assists in his last 3 games. 


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