Hershey entered the weekend on a 7 game winning streak and were in position for home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Then the Bears forgot how to win games. First the St. John's IceCaps beat the Bears on Saturday, 3-2, in a game which wasn't really that close. Hershey jumped out to a 1-0 lead and then proceeded to watch the IceCaps score 3 before Ryan Potulny scored his first of 4 on the weekend with only 14 seconds to go.
St. Johns is a solid team, locked in at #2 in the Eastern Conference, so considering the quantity and quality of scratches for the Bears, the outcome wasn't entirely surprising.
Sunday saw the cellar dwelling Binghamton Senators visit Giant Center for the final time in 2011-12. Entering the game Binghamton had scored 2 goals at Giant Center all season. 2. In three games.
Well they fixed that average by scoring 6 (one because of the shootout victory) on Sunday. Due to illness I was unable to attend, but from what I heard it was another lousy game from the Bears as a team. Potulny was a bright spot though as he recorded what I believe is the Bears first hat trick of the year (am I wrong on that?) to bring the Bears back from a 3 goal deficit in the 3rd period.
13 shootout rounds later, the Sens had a victory and the Bears complete a 1 point weekend.
To make matters worse for the Bears, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won both of their games this weekend.
So, once again the Bears find themselves in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 points behind the 4th place Penguins. Friday's game in Wilkes-Barre is obviously very important, but I believe the Pens own the tiebreaker over the Bears which means Hershey would need more than just a win Friday to move back into 4th.
But the Bears also need to be concerned about the Connecticut Whale who currently sit in 6th with 80 points, just 7 behind the Bears. The Whale visit Hershey on Sunday in another important game this weekend. Considering the way the Bears played this past weekend, a slip to 6th in the standings is not inconceivable.
While a first round matchup from the 6-seed (currently against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers) definitely sounds more appealing/winnable than a matchup from the 5-seed against the Baby Pens....the 2nd round matchup for the 6-seed would likely come against the Norfolk Admirals.
Norfolk has won 22 straight. I don't think any team in the league (and some NHL teams) want to play the Admirals anytime soon.