As the Bears make final preparations for tonight's potential Calder Cup winning game, here are a few notes from the pregame skate. The Bears had an upbeat, up-tempo skate that saw them take care of business, but also has some fun in the process. An example of the team having fun was defenseman, Sean Collins and Zach Miskovic engaging in a game of rock paper scissors while the team was taking a water break.
The forward lines (subject to change and my interpretation): Keith Aucoin centering Andrew Gordon and Chris Bourque; Mathieu Perreault centering Jay Beagle and Alexandre Giroux; Kyle Wilson centering Francois Bouchard and Cody Eakin/Ashton Rome; Andrew Joudrey centering Steve Pinizzotto and Boyd Kane
The defensive pairings (subject to change and my interpretation):Karl Alzner and John Carlson; Patrick McNeill and Bryan Helmer; Greg Amadio and Patrick Wellar; the spares were Sean Collins and Zach Miskovic
Giroux, commenting on the changes that the Bears made that resulted in success in Texas.
"They were playing a very disciplined system that clogged up the neutral zone, and it took us a couple of games to adjust. We had to figure out how they played, and adjust to the way we play. When we went down there, we made things a little simpler and in turn, made it easy on ourselves. Instead of trying to make the extra pass, we just puck the puck on net and got some rebounds, and it’s paid off so far."
Giroux, commenting on whether the line juggling by the Bears coaching staff, which saw him shifted to line with Jay Beagle and Mathieu Perreault, and Chris Bourque taking his spot on the line with Keith Aucoin and Andrew Gordon, removed some of the pressure put on him to produce.
"Not at all. It’s the same type of pressure, the change was made to give us a little more depth on each line. Bourqie can finish on his line and I can still finish on my new line. Gordo and Beagle both work really hard and go get the pucks, and Perry and Coiner can make the nice passes. It was just a case of sometimes things don’t click, and you try a different thing to give the team a spark. I think everyone has the same pressure to do their jobs, it’s just with different people.”
Helmer, on he and his teammates making the necessary changes in their game, the changes that head coach, Mark French, alluded to after game two, to reel off the three wins in Texas.
"Obviously, we got our game back down there by doing the little things that are so important. I think the last two games we’ve been at our best, but you've got to give them credit though, they’ve played us real tough."
Helmer, on the Bears, who failed to close out Manitoba last year on home ice when faced with a clinching game, using that to their advantage tonight.
"I’ve said this before to someone else, but, if you go back to game five last year in the finals when we had a chance to win it here and didn't, maybe our emotions got the better of us. Hopefully, tonight we can draw from that experience and keep our emotions in check, and do what we do best. The toughest thing to do in the playoffs is to close out a series, but if we we play the way we have been playing the last few games, we should be in good shape."