Monday, March 29, 2010

Beagle Takes Bite Out of Sens

When a team win 55 games in a season like the Hershey Bears have entering Sunday’s matchup against the Binghamton Senators, logic dictates that they must find a myriad of ways to accomplish that impressive feat, and the Bears did just that it the contest.

The boys from Hershey, employing the “Oreo cookie approach” by sandwiching a creamy second period in the middle, in which they scored three goals in rapid fire succession, between dark first and third periods, ultimately emerged from the encounter with their 56th win, a 3-2 triumph.

Binghamton defenseman, Paul Baier, netted the only goal of the first period, canning the rebound of a Geoff Kincade point shot behind Hershey netminder, Braden Holtby.

Playing their third game in as many nights, the Bears could only muster seven shots on net in the first period, with Francois Bouchard’s bid at the buzzer the best of the bunch; they were unable to manage any sustained pressure against the stingy Senators defense.

“They played a bit of a different strategy tonight,” explained Hershey head coach, Mark French. “They were playing a 2-3, which meant that in the offensive zone, they sent two guys in and kept three guys back. I thought we struggled with that. We turned over the puck a lot coming through the neutral zone because there were even man situations...”

The Bears altered their approach from the outset of the second frame, putting immediate pressure on Binghamton netminder, Mike Brodeur, with Alexandre Giroux eventually getting the equalizing goal at 2:02.

Giroux’s goal, the 300th of his AHL career came with his parents in attendance after he was allowed to wander uninhibited to Brodeur’s doorstep. Brodeur, while able to beat back Giroux’s initial attempt, could not prevent his rebound attempt from finding paydirt.

“It was originally an odd man rush and Coiner took a shot and it got deflected into the corner,” said Giroux. “I saw Gordo getting the puck and the D overplayed it. I was able to get my own rebound and put it in on the far side.”

Andrew Gordon and Keith Aucoin were credited with the assists on Giroux’s goal; however, Karl Alzner, who absorbed a punishing check from Binghamton’s Jason Bailey just after he launched a long outlet pass to Aucoin, started the Bears march into the offensive zone and deserves an honorable mention for ‘taking one for the team’.

Less than a minute after the Giroux goal, the Bears sensed the kill against their wounded opponents and took their first lead of the night when Bouchard beat Brodeur at 3:00. Bouchard, by virtue of being on his off wing, was able to release a one-time rocket after receiving a pass from Kyle Wilson, something that would not have been possible were he on the left wing.

The Boys from Chocolate town finished off their bruising of Brodeur when Jay Beagle deflected a Bryan Helmer point shot home at 5:07 to give the Bears a 3-1 lead heading into the third period.

“There were so many people in front, and it was just bouncing off bodies,” Beagle said. “It could have hit my pants on the way. I just know it was hitting bodies and I got a piece of it; thank goodness it went in.”

While Beagle is not a goal-scoring machine like Giroux, when he finds the back of the net, he makes them count, as seven of his 14 goals of the season have been game winners.

“I didn’t even know I had that many game-winning goals. I just try to contribute to the team, if that’s getting a goal or trying to get some energy for the team,” said Beagle.

In the third period, the Bears and Holtby allowed a single strike by Jim O’Brien, but did not allow the B-Sens to garner the tying goal, even with Brodeur on the bench for an extra attacker in the final moments.

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