Well, the setup to the first game between the Bears and Devils ended up being more interesting than usual. The Albany fans were treated to not one but two NHL goaltenders as the starters last night. I don't follow either Albany or New Jersey but I was surprised to see Scott Clemmensen starting and that he's played more games in the AHL this season than the NHL. A perennial backup, I figured Clemmensen would be past this point in his career. Especially with the opportunity he had in Florida the past couple of years to take on more responsibility.
For Hershey, it was rumored earlier in the week that Justin Peters might be sent down to get some games in since he hadn't played since November and Holtby has taken over as an iron man starter in Washington. It was announced Thursday night that Peters would indeed join the Bears in Albany and start in goal Friday and Sunday. I also think the push to get Peters in goal Friday was because of the years he spent playing in Albany. This was a treat not only for the fans but for him as well.
This turn of events makes an interesting scenario for Pheonix Copley. He's played great in his 11 starts so far but has seen limited action recently because of how well Grubauer has been performing. But with Grubauer out with a lower body injury, now would be the time for Copley to show what he can do with the starting position. Much the way Holtby did in 2009-10 when Neuvirth went down with injury late in the season.
Indeed, before the announcement was official, it was figured that Copley would start two games this weekend and Peters might play Saturday night. Now, Peters is slated for Friday/Sunday and Copley is recalled to backup Holtby in Washington. The question now is, who's going to start in goal for Hershey on Saturday night?
This makes you wonder about the timing of opportunities. Copley went from finally getting the chance to get some consistent starts to sitting on the bench in Washington where he most likely won't see any ice time.
As for the game, Scott Stuccio's Penn Live post game blog post sums up the main highlights perfectly. Neither team played particularly aggressive and there was limited physicality. But they both played an open style last night which lead to great end to end play, especially in the third period.
The first period goals by Brown and Galiev less than a minute apart were both NHL caliber plays and the second period shorthanded disallowed goal by Stephenson was the main turning point of the game. The Bears lose the chance to go up 3-0 and then have to kill a 5-on-3 for almost a minute. If the Devils score there, it's a one goal game or maybe tied and the game goes in a different direction.
Hershey would it make 3-0 early in the third period on the power play as Brown would get his second goal of the game. That power play goal really highlighted the Bears' excellent ability for passing and cycling the puck in the corner and along the wall. The play perfectly setup Brown in the slot.
The Bears are back in Hershey Saturday and Sunday in back to back games against the Norfolk Admirals.