Saturday, October 20, 2012

Bears 75th Home Opener Tonight

Last weekend the Bears dropped a 4-3 decision to the Syracuse Crunch in their lone game of the AHL's opening weekend.

Last night they redeemed themselves with a 3-2 win over the Binghamton Senators up I-81.  All 3 goals were scored by defensemen (Julien Brouillette, Garrett Stafford, and Cameron Schilling) and Dany Sabourin made 42 saves to pick up Hershey's first win of their 75th season.

Tonight the Bears open up Giant Center for the first time in the 2012-13 season.  The Bears will wear special 75th Anniversary jerseys, which will be auctioned off after the game, and will face-off against the Rochester Americans, the 2nd oldest team in the league.

The Amerks have already played 4 games this young season and enter the contest 2-2-0-0 with both of their wins (one in a shootout) coming on home ice.

During the 2011-12 season the Bears and Amerks met up twice with each team winning on their own buildings.  This is the first of two meetings again this season as the Bears will make a return trip to Rochester in February.

The 2012-13 Amerks include a few players with substantial NHL experience.
  • Top prospect Cody Hodgson played 83 NHL games last season between Vancouver and Buffalo and tallied 19 goals and 22 assists in those contests.  He currently leads the Amerks with 4 assists in 4 games but has yet to light the lamp this season on his own.
  • Kevin Porter joins the organization this season after spending the majority of the past three seasons in the Colorado Avalanche organization.  In those 3 seasons he played in 125 NHL games, scoring 20 goals and adding 15 assists.  His last extended stay in the AHL was with San Antonio in 2009-10 where he scored 15 goals and added 25 assists in 52 games.  This year he has picked up a goal and 2 assists to start the season.
  • Familiar (last) name, Marcus Foligno, son of former Bears coach Mike Foligno, has made the beginning of his second pro season an impactful one to date.  The 2nd year pro leads the Amerks with 3 goals in the first 4 games and also has an assist.  Last season he tallied 16 goals and 23 assists with Rochester in 60 games before moving up to the Sabres where he picked up 6 goals and 7 assists in only 14 NHL games.  
  • Another familiar name and former Bear "Big" Joe Finley joins the Amerks for the second straight year.  He stands at 6'8" and plays a physical game so watch out for him tonight at the GC.
  • Goaltender David Leggio returns to Rochester for his 2nd season with the club and has started all 4 games so far this season, earning a 2-2 record with a 3.22 goals against average and a .906 save percentage.

It should be an entertaining game at the GC tonight.

Tomorrow night also sees a home game in Hershey as the Bears welcome the Senators to town after beating them last night.  The Senators had won their first 2 games of the season before last nights loss at home to the Bears.  They host Syracuse tonight before making the trip down 81 tomorrow afternoon.

The strength of the Senators roster is between the pipes where they roster two of the better goalies in the AHL, Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop.  Lehner has been a consistent presence in Binghamton as he enters his 3rd full time professional season.  He is a top prospect in the organization, Hockey's Future has him as the #2 prospect in the organization, and he has been stellar in his AHL career to date.  He has started all 3 games so far this season for the Sens and allowed only 2 goals in his first two games before giving up 3 to the Bears.

Ben Bishop has spent the majority of his career to date in Peoria as part of the Blues organization.  He has never finished a season with a goals against average over 3.00 (juniors, AHL, or NHL) and was stellar last season in his AHL time with a combined 2.27 goals against average and .930 save percentage in 41 games played between Peoria and Binghamton.

On the offensive side of things the Sens return their top 3 scorers from 2011-12 - Mike Hoffman, Andre Petersson, and Pat Cannone - and welcome some young studs to the lineup as well.
  • Mike Stone is a name to watch.  He only has 2 assists in their first 3 games, but this is a kid that scored 41 goals and added 82 assists in only 66 games in the WHL last season.  He actually made his NHL debut last spring for the Ottawa Senators in a playoff game, picking up an assist in his one game.  Definitely a name to watch until the NHL lockout ends.  
  • Jakob Silfverberg is a Swedish rookie playing his first hockey in North America this season (not entirely true...he also debuted for the Ottawa Senators last spring with 2 playoff games).  He scored 24 goals and added 30 assists in 49 games for Brynas IF Gavle in the Swedish Elite League.  He has one goal for the Baby Sens this season.
  • Another young Swede, Mika Zibanejad, played 9 games for the Ottawa Senators last year and picked up 1 assist.  He already has an assist this season with the Baby Sens.  

The Binghamton Senators are the youngest team in the AHL this season while the Bears are the oldest.  Those players I mentioned before...the Sens young stars...Hockey's Future ranks Mike #1, Lehner #2, Jakob #3, and Mike Stone at #5 in overall prospects for the organization.  Assuming they all stay in Binghamton for the year, they will likely be pretty good.

Enjoy a full weekend of games at Giant Center as the Bears kick off their 75th season in the AHL. 


No comments: