Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sparse Crowd Watches Bears Gnaw on Monarchs

I realize it was Halloween night, but I expected a better turnout by the fans in Manchester, NH. There were what looked like maybe 500 people in attendance. Probably more fans watching on AHL Live. Regardless, they missed a well fought game between the Bears and Monarchs. It wasn't an overly physical game and there was no after the whistle activities or fights, but it was well played offensively and defensively by both teams. However, the Bears would end up rolling over Manchester 4-0.

For the first period and most of the second, it seemed like it was going to be one of those back and forth defensive affairs with neither team giving ground. Manchester controlled the majority of the play in that time. There was even a stint in the middle of the first period when the Monarchs had the Bears pinned in their own end 5-on-5. And it seemed like the Monarchs always got a stick on Hershey's passes and scoring chances.

The second period started out the same way until Kris Newbury, behind the Monarch's net, quickly fed the puck to Dane Byers in the slot and made it 1-0 Hershey. The assist gave Newbury his 500th AHL career point.

The play of Newbury and Casey Wellman has really been impressive in the first month of the season. These two have just clicked and they're putting up a lot of points. Obviously it's early in the season but to a certain extent Newbury and Wellman seem like the new Aucoin/Giroux tandem. They're not as offensively gifted and flashy as Aucoin and Giroux, but Newbury and Wellman know where to find each other on the ice and how to put the puck in the back of the net.

Newbury's goal tilted the ice in the Bears' favor as they now controlled the play and would put in two more goals before the end of the period to make it 3-0 going into the 3rd.

Casey Wellman made it 2-0 on the power play with a perfectly placed tip in off Tomas Kundratek's shot pass. It's good to see the Hershey defense utilizing different types of shots. Everyone always wants to wind up for the slap shot on the power play and typically a snap shot is mostly used for the shot pass. But Kundratek placed a hard wrist shot right on the tape of Wellman's stick.

Philip Grubauer got his first shutout of the season and should be commended for keeping Hershey in it for the first half of the game. Even though the Bears kept the Monarchs to the outside of the ice, Grubauer had to be sharp during the three penalty kills. The third period was mostly uneventful and Steve Olesky got the empty net to make it 4-0.

Hershey, with two consecutive shutouts going, heads up to Worcester, MA to face a Sharks team that is 4-2-1 so far. The Bears will be back in Manchester on Sunday to closeout the weekend.

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