It's a bit disheartening to see the depth of the Northeast Division. The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have more points than the Bears but are next to last in their division. The Bears have the same record as the Hartford Wolf Pack and they're in last place in the Northeast. As the conference grouping currently stands, the Bears sit in eighth place. It's a good thing Hershey has had success against the Wolf Pack so far this season.
Granted, things will change and some of those Northeast teams will drop out of playoff contention (hopefully). But it's going to be a tough slog in the back end of the season. Depending on how things pan out, it could eventually be a fierce battle for playoff position down the stretch.
Anyway, back to the game at hand. It looks like the changes Troy Mann has made in the past week might have paid off as the Bears defeated Bridgeport 6-3. This was a much more open and looser game. Both teams brought speed and there was continual end to end action that both goalies needed to be sharp.
Through the first and second periods, it appeared as though the Stan Galiev Show was going to continue as he notched 2 goals (5 total in 4 games). Most impressive was his power play goal late in the 2nd. With a lateral, cross crease pass from Chris Conner, Galiev one-timed the puck just over David Leggio's right. That's an NHL type shot that isn't seen much in the AHL. Not many guys can hit the 4 to 5 inch spot just above the goalie's shoulder at that speed.
With the Bears up 2-1, the Sound Tigers would end up taking a delay of game penalty at the close of the second and Hershey started the third on the power play. While not converting on the power play (going 2 for 7 in the game), shortly after the Bears would make it 3-1 with some incredible passing off the rush by the Broda-Mitchell-Gazley line. I don't know what was better: Broda's backhand shot to hit the top left corner of the net or Mitchell's backhand pass between the legs of the Bridgeport defender to Broda.
A few minutes later Chris Brown would make it 4-1 and it appeared as though Hershey had gotten over its offensive slump. With all the talk of Galiev's two goals, Brown scored 2 himself and was the game's number #2 star. But the Sound Tigers would climb back to make it 4-3 with around 11 minutes left in the game.
With the clock ticking down, it seemed as though it was going to be a battle to the end and Bridgeport would pull its goalie. But Brown would score his second with about two minutes left to make it 5-3. Less than a minute later Chris Brown scored on the power play and it was lights out Bridgeport. Hershey never gave the Sound Tigers a chance to pull Leggio. Which I think will give the Bears much needed confidence not having to eek out another one goal game.
Finally, Dane Byers was all over Bridgeport defenseman Mark Nemec. Byers had at least two highlight reel checks on Nemec in the third. Both times as Nemec was trying to skate out of his zone, Byers dumped him with a hip check in the left corner and drilled him with a stand up open ice hit in the right corner.