Sure they have had plenty of practice time and have undoubtedly scrimmaged there, but there is no way to simulate live game action. And there is no way to develop real chemistry with your linemates without experiencing live game action.
When I saw the schedule I fully expected to see the 2013-14 Bears to struggle at the beginning of the year. Surely the team didn't think they would and plenty of fans probably have expected more as well.
But I honestly felt like we wouldn't know much about this team until they got to about Thanksgiving.
I still feel that way.
I am hyped for more Bears hockey this weekend and fully expect a good showing, but this team is still learning about each other. And Coach Haviland is still trying to figure out how lines are going to fit together and which guys to play in which roles and situations.
Getting back on Giant Center ice will surely help the team and actually playing games will help even more. Beginning this weekend the Bears will play 10 games over the next 22 days. Considering they played 4 in the first 21 days that will definitely lead to some more familiarity amongst the guys.
6 of the first 7 games in that stretch are at home (1 road game next Friday in Wilkes-Barre) so we will get to see the transformation first hand.
Just getting to play 2 games last weekend seemed to help as they came out playing pretty well on Saturday after dropping the Friday game in St. John's. I can only imagine what getting to play a few more games will do for them.
This weekend features two home games. Saturday night sees the Hartford Wolf Pack (finally done with all that Connecticut Whale stuff) visit Giant Center.
Hartford enters the weekend with a 5-1-0-1 record and plays at Albany on Friday night so they are a good team that will be warmed up with a game the night before. They currently sit in 1st place in the Northeast Division but their most recent game was their lone regulation loss and 2 of their wins have come in the shootout.
I would expect a close game as 6 of their 7 games so far have been 1 goal affairs with only Wednesday nights loss being more (4-2).
One player to watch for the Wolf Pack is number 29, RW Danny Kristo. Kristo has 5 goals and 3 assists in 7 games so far this year. He is playing his first full pro season after finishing up a highly productive college career that saw him score 68 goals in his 4 year career at the University of North Dakota.
Sunday welcomes the familiar Norfolk Admirals to Hershey for the first time in 2013-14. They have played 6 games are and 3-1-0-2 so far. 4 of their 6 six games have gone to a shootout so a close game might be in store again Sunday. Although, their other 2 games were blowouts, one a win and the other a loss...both against Binghamton.
The Admirals appear to be a young team this year as 3 of their top 4 scorers to date are rookies in 2013-14. And 9 of their top 15 current top scorers are rookies.
Norfolk will be finishing up their first 3 in 3 of the season when they visit Hershey on the tail end of a weekend spent on the road. They start the weekend Friday night in Adirondack, stop off in Wilkes-Barre for a game Saturday, and then finish against our Hershey Bears Sunday evening.
It should be a good weekend of hockey at the GC. Here is hoping to 2 Hershey victories! (and here is hoping that they both come in regulation too.)