Friday night was probably the most disappointing. Despite taking 34 shots the Bears could only beat Adirondack goaltender 1 time as Hershey lost 2-1 against the 8th place (also known as last) team in the East Division.
That result was even more disappointing when you remember Hershey had just lost to the then 7th place team in the Division, Syracuse.
But Hershey would redeem themselves...kind of.
The now 7th place Albany Devils came to town Saturday night and despite their inability to score goals this season, 2.69 per game (23rd in the league), and Hershey's ability to keep teams off the scoreboard, 2.64 goals allowed per game (8th in the league), the Devils managed to score 4 goals and leave this game in question until midway through the 3rd period.
If you remember, which I am sure everyone who was there does, this game was marred by an ice problem in the Albany crease during the 3rd period. Multiple attempts to correct the problem (some might call it a "phantom" problem) proved mostly ineffective as Albany goalie Jeff Frazee did not want to finish the game. To the officials credit they told him too bad and the game resumed.
You could just tell that he was uncomfortable in the crease throughout the 3rd period. Once the game got going Hershey showered him with shots and ended up getting the game winning goal with a little under 9 minutes to go before adding an insurance marker and empty netter latter in the game.
Then came Sunday and a showdown with the league leading Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. This season has not been kind to the Bears in this rivalry as Hershey has beaten the Baby Pens once. And that game was played in Pittsburgh just before the new year.
As we all know by now the Pens won....in overtime...on a short handed goal.
It was a very unexpected and unsatisfying way to lose a game. Hershey had just killed off a penalty of their own and were just starting the power play when Wilkes-Barre scored on an odd man rush.
But let's be honest about one thing...Hershey lost that game prior to overtime. The Bears registered a whopping 4 shots on goal during the 2nd period. And many of the shots they did take, in all 4 periods, were under-whelming. They had little to no traffic in front of Pens goalie John Curry and didn't seem interested in getting in there.
For much of the game the Bears seemed almost reluctant to shoot. And that is fine to a point. You can't just shoot each time you have the puck as many times there aren't open lanes or you don't have the time. But Hershey seemed to be waiting for the perfect shot instead of getting pucks on net. Neither of Hershey's goals were because of "perfect shots" and not many goals from here out will be. The key is to get players to the net and then get pucks on net. Goalies at this level...no matter how good they are...will leave rebounds from time to time.
So after the weekend Hershey remains entrenched in 2nd place in the East Division. But they are perilously close to falling to 3rd, 4th or even 5th in the race for the playoffs. And I am sincerely hoping for a 2nd, 3rd or 5th place finish. Because I would rather see Hershey play the Atlantic Division champ than the East Division champ considering the recent history.
Below you will see a chart that shows the current standings with games left and possible points. Should Hershey win their remaining games they would clinch the 2nd spot in the East. But considering the 2 games against Norfolk and Norfolk's 3 games in hand things could get ugly quick this weekend.
|Team||Games Left||Current Pts||Possible Pts|