Well if you expected a good showing this weekend then you left disappointed.
Saturday night's game I already discussed briefly over here. Portland is a good team so I wasn't sure what to expect there. I thought with Holtby the Bears would continue with their recent play and they did for much of the game but still dropped the decision in overtime.
Sunday night I definitely expected more. Hershey was welcoming the Syracuse Crunch to Hershey. A team that resides in the bottom of the East Division and a team that Hershey had already beaten 3 times, in 4 games, this season.
Let's start with the controversy. Late in the 2nd period with the Bears on a power play Syracuse forward, Nick Bonino, took a pass, out waited Holtby, and roofed the puck. The puck (it is believed) bounced off the water bottle and back out of the goal instantly. Referee Francis Charron immediately signaled goal despite the red light never turning on and the call stood. He saw the water bottle pop a few inches in the air and called it right away.
My seats are in section 103 so I had a solid look at it. And I think it was a goal. Some people would argue that the water bottle was resting on the crossbar and the puck hit the bar and that caused the bottle to jump. I don't think that is possible. It would take quite a shot to cause that kind of movement to the bottle through the crossbar and it wasn't that hard a shot.
The other theory, comes straight from Braden Holtby:
My stick hits the net and bounces the water bottle in the air, and the ref thinks the puck hits it.Maybe that is what happened. I didn't see it. Holtby was down and beaten when the shot went off and I don't think he got near it or the bottle. Maybe I am wrong...I didn't see a replay other than one's shown at the arena.
So I think it was a goal.
And honestly what difference did it make??? Sure, if they don't score there it is a whole different game but the Hershey defense was a joke most of the night anyhow.
Here is my bigger issue with that goal....WHERE WERE THE 5 SKATERS?????
It was a power play, a Crunch player stole the puck and Brian Willsie chased him to the corner. Good play so far. 1 Bear accounted for.
Then 2 more Bears (Patrick McNeill and I think Kyle Greentree) come into the zone and to the corner....leaving Bonino WIDE FREAKING OPEN in the middle of the ice.
How does that happen?
And it didn't get better. Syracuse responded in the 3rd period with goals on defensive letdowns by the Bears.
In Hershey's defense the offense was good but the Syracuse goalie, Levasseur, was better. He made some incredible saves early on as Hershey outshot the Crunch 26-11 in the first 2 periods to keep Syracuse in the game.
Overall for Hershey the offense was good. Maybe not productive but I thought they made good passes, good shots and challenged Levasseur but he got the best of them. Add to that the fact that Syracuse blocked a ton of shots and I think any team would have struggled to score.
But the real problem for Hershey was at the defensive end. Guys standing around, chasing too much, and failing to pick up the open players.
For a team that has prided itself on defense much of the season it was an ugly performance against one of the worst offenses in the league.
Hershey has a few more days to work on their problems before a trip to Glens Falls on Friday to face the Phantoms. Then they return home to Hershey to play Albany and Wilkes-Barre. Hopefully those home games turn out a little better than the past 2.
And don't think for a second that these games aren't important...Norfolk is only 7 points behind Hershey with 4 games in hand. In theory if Norfolk were to win all those games they would be 1 point IN FRONT of Hershey.
So while the odds of making the playoffs are still very good (6 points from clinching) the race for the #2 spot is just heating up.