Hershey Bears' forward, Andrew Gordon, has no personal association with Manchester Monarchs goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, other than the limited time they spent hanging out at this year’s AHL All-Star event in Portland.
However, as the Bears and Monarchs prepare for to open up their Eastern Conference Finals series tonight, the the two figure to have more than ample opportunities to get to know each other, with Gordon taking up his customary spot in front of the net, particularly when the Bears are enjoying a power play.
“My game on the power play is pretty simple. I stand in front and the puck is eventually going to come there, and sometimes I’ll scoop up some rebounds or come in on the back door for a quick tap-in,” said Gordon, who led the league in power plays goals in the regular season.
“For the most part, I just try and stand my ground and create a little havoc in front of the crease. If that opens up Giroux or Aucoin or Carlson for a shot, that’s perfect, but if I get a rebound, that’ll work, too.”
Giroux, who along with a huge helping hand from linemate Keith Aucoin, has led the league in goals the last two seasons, says the key to Gordon’s glittering goal scoring count this season has been patience.
“He’s a little more patient playing on our line now. In the beginning of the year he was a little bit nervous to make plays with us. His style is so up and down the wing and he works so hard and that hard work helps get me and Coiner the puck. When he gets up the puck, the other team focuses on me and Coiner and that gives him a little more space to work with,” said Giroux.
Thanks to their second round sweep of the Albany River Rats and the Manchester-Worcester Sharks series going to six games, the Bears have not seen any game action for nearly two weeks, a fact that has some people worried, but according to Gordon, is a potential problem that was amply addressed by the Bears’ coaching staff.
“I think we did a pretty good job balancing that rest versus rust theory. Whenever you come to the rink, you have to remember there is going to be more hockey played and it is important hockey, and the later the season goes, each game gets more important. Tonight, we just have to keep mentally focused and work hard and not expect to turn it back on right away after the long layoff.”
Although he was a member of Hershey’s “Black Aces” squad in the 2007 Calder Cup Finals against the Hamilton Bulldogs and did not see any game action, Gordon notes the similarities between that matchup and this one against Manchester, and has learned a lot from the experience.
“It was great to see the team go that far, but it was heart-breaking to see them lose in the end. That’s a team who finished first all year and set records, and they deserved a better fate, but in the end, they played a good team with a good goaltender, and they ended up hitting a wall and losing.”
“Just to see the look on those guys’ faces and the emotion they displayed after the game was tough to see and something you don’t want to experience for yourself. We’re in a similar situation as a team that’s been rolling through pretty well all season, and you don’t want to end up with a frown on your face at the end of the season.”