Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bears get a point in Portland and head to Worcester

It wasn't a win but it was a point earned in possibly the hardest place to get one this season.  The injury depleted Bears lost in a shootout to the recall depleted Pirates last night in Portland.

Hershey was (and will remain) without 4 of their top 7 scorers due to injuries.  Keith Aucoin, Andrew Gordon, Steve Pinizzotto, and Lawrence Nycholat.

Portland played without 3 of their top 7 scorers including Mark Mancari who sits at #2 in the AHL in goals scored this season.  Also missing were Luke Adam and Mark Parrish. 

The Bears jumped out to a 1-goal lead in the first period thank to a Matthieu Perreault unassisted goal 5 minutes into the first period.

They held that lead through the first period and through the 2nd period before relinquishing the lead and falling behind on 2 goals in the 3rd period.

Fortunately a 4 on 3 power play with less than 2 minutes to go in the game allowed Hershey to tie the game on a Patrick McNeill goal with 1:32 left to play.

4 on 3 power plays have to be the hardest thing to defend.  If I had enough free time I would look through the Bears games as I would contend they score on at least 50% of those power plays.  The reason?  Because teams don't spend much time preparing for them.  They practice 5 on 4 and they practice 5 on 3 but 4 on 3...there isn't enough time for it.

It really isn't that much different than a 5 on 4 except that defensively it is generally played more like a 5 on 3.  The penalty killers stay in their triangle and protect the net.  This allows the offense to move the puck freely with all the open ice and they generally get the shot they want.

If you see a 4 on 3 power play you can also expect to see a goal or some great saves by a goalie.

Overall it wasn't a bad game for Hershey.  Sure they would have liked to have the win but a point is better than nothing and when that point comes against a team as good at home as Portland you have to be pleased.

It was an odd game though.  Entering the contest Hershey had gone 33-5-1-3 when scoring the first goal and 27-0-0-2 when leading after 2 periods.  They achieved both of those items and still ended with a shootout loss. 

No big deal though.  1 point achieved...8 more available this week.


Next up is a game tonight against the Worcester Sharks.

Worcester is currently the first team out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.  They trail Connecticut by 4 points in the Atlantic Division and Binghamton by 5 points in the East Division. 

While they aren't as good as Portland, Hershey might be catching the Sharks at the right time.  Even though I listed McGinn and Cheechoo in my 'Players to Watch' section I have discovered that they have each missed time recently with injuries (at least I think they are injuries).  Cheechoo has missed the last 4 while McGinn has missed the last 3. 

Add to that the fact that Trevelyan has only recorded an assist in those 4 games and you can see why they are struggling of late.

In their last 4 games they have scored a combined 8 goals and have allowed 16.  2 goals scored per game (literally 2 in each of the the last 4 games) while giving up 4 per game.  That is not a recipe for success.  And the Sharks have not had much either.

Hershey needs 2 points tonight.  This is the 2nd game in 2 nights with 3 more coming over the next 4 days so getting 2 against one of the weaker teams of the docket would surely be a step in the right direction.

Hershey Bears
record ~ 39-21-1-4 83 points
standings ~ 2nd in East Division
most recent game ~ 3-2 SO Loss @ Portland, 3/8
last 5 games ~ 2-2-0-1
road record ~ 19-10-1-2
goals for ~ 210
goals against ~ 170
road power play ~ 17.2% (17th)
home penalty kill ~ 81.4% (19th)

Worcester Sharks
record ~ 28-23-4-8 68 points
standings ~ 4th in Atlantic Division
most recent game ~ 7-2 Loss vs Connecticut, 3/6
last 5 games ~ 2-2-1-0
home record ~ 16-10-2-4
goals for ~169
goals against ~ 192
home power play ~18.1% (16th)
home penalty kill ~ 81.0% (23rd)

last time teams met - 2nd and final meeting between the teams during the regular season.  Worcester beat Hershey 3-2 on their visit to Giant Center the night before Thanksgiving.

Players to watch:

C Mathieu Perreault (24) - He is Hershey's top center while Keith Aucoin is out.  He has scored 2 goals in the last 3 games which brings his season total to 10.  Also has 17 assists on the year.
RW Brian Willsie (18) - He scored 2 in Saturday's win but has been held without a point in the 2 losses this week. 
LW Boyd Kane (12) - He has 22 goals on the season and had 9 goals and 8 assists in the first 14 games of February but in his last 5 games he has only 1 goal and 0 assists.
RW Jonathon Cheechoo (14) - Leads the team in goals (18), assists (29) and points (47).  He has 1 goal and 2 assists in his last 3 games but has not played in the Sharks' last 4 games.
LW T.J. Trevelyan (24) - He is third on the team with 14 goals and is tied for 2nd in points with 22.  He has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 7 games.
LW Jamie McGinn (44) - He has only played in 14 games with Worcester this season but he has 7 goals and 5 assists in those games.  He has 3 goals and an assist in his last 3 games.


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