This was a relatively light weekend for the Bears in comparison to the other teams in the division. Both the Albany Devils and LeHigh Valley Phantoms played 3-in-3 (plus traveling) while the Hershey was at home for just two. Looking back, the road trip to start the season and how well the Bears played is now paying off with more home stands and a less rugged schedule. This combination can definitely be seen as favoring the Bears' climb into first place in the division.
Last night, Hershey rolled over LeHigh Valley 5-2 and outshot the Phantoms 37-30 including putting up 17 shots in the second period alone. In addition, while the penalty kill faltered a bit last night against Albany (allowing 3 PP goals in 5 chances), tonight the Bears killed off all 8 power plays for the Phantoms.
Another benefit of the lighter schedule is slowly getting Grubauer and Copley back into the consistency of play. With Grubauer being out injured and Copley on recall last weekend, neither goalie has played a game in about two weeks. In Tim Leone's Penn Live bullet points from the weekend and in the broadcasts, it was noted that at times both goalies struggled a bit to fight off shots.
Hershey will continue this schedule trend with a game in Allentown on Wednesday and one in Hershey on Saturday against the Binghamton Senators. I would expect Grubauer and Copley to each get a game. This takes the Bears into the final weekend of the month and February where they'll have a whole month of 3-in-3's. Getting both goalies back up to game speed and splitting time will be paramount for a successful February.