Last Sunday afternoon the Bears entered their game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins having lost 9 straight home games to their arch rival. Then they won 4-3 in a shootout.
Yesterday evening the Bears made it 2 in a row against the Pens on home ice as they provided a sound beating to the Pens with a 5-1 victory.
That was the 11th meeting this season between the two teams and Hershey has gone 5-4-1-1 against the Pens for 12 of a possible 22 points. But last nights might have been the most important to date.
The Bears came into the game trailing the division leading Pens by 3 points. A regulation win by the Pens would have made it 5 points with only 1 game remaining between the teams. Obviously it would have been possible to make it up, but it would have been harder.
Now the Bears sit just 1 point back. If the Bears and Pens finish the rest of the season with the same record and the Bears beat Wilkes-Barre on April 6th, the Bears win the division.
Translation....(and yes I know this is early)...the Bears control their own fate.
Ok, back to the game last night.
It was fun to be there yesterday, wasn't it? If you weren't there let me put it in to perspective for you...
I am not a believer that the wave has any place at a hockey game. There is just too much to pay attention to and the games are generally filled with action and emotion.
Last night it was 4-0 and a group up in section 225 managed to get it going. It was fun.
So far I have seen plenty of compliments paid to Jacob Micflikier and Ryan Potulny, and their 2 goals...each, for the scoring last night. (Leone, SHOE, C&W)
And they both did a fantastic job, but I can assure you that there were 2 bigger stars last night. Chris Bourque and Braden Holtby.
If it wasn't for a whiff on a wide-open net in the 3rd period I am pretty certain he would have been the games #1 star. All around he played a very good game.
How Holtby didn't end up as one of the 3 Stars from last night I will never know. He made 34 saves and played about as well as I have seen him play for the Bears...ever. His puck handling was spot on...quick decisions and decisive actions. His reaction time was great...did you see all the times he poke-checked the puck out of harms way? And he never once seemed to get rattled.
Braden was in net last Sunday against Wilkes-Barre, Friday night in Syracuse, and yesterday. In those three games he stopped 103 of the 108 shots he faced. He earned a .953 save percentage and a 1.62 goals against average as well. Oh, and more importantly the Bears earned all 6 points.
It was, by far, the best 3 game performance of his season to date.
Up next for the Bears...a 5 games in 7 nights road trip to 5 different cities in 5 different states. Sounds like fun. More to come later this week.