Saturday, January 21, 2012

Monarchs Crown Bears 1.21.12

The Manchester Monarchs proved to be a royal pain for the Hershey Bears on Saturday night at Giant Center before a sellout crowd of better than 10,000 patrons and twice overcame one-goal deficits to escape with a narrow 5-4 victory.

Keith Aucoin, the AHL’s leading point producer gave the Bears their first lead of the night at 3:26 of the opening period, but that early bulge lasted a mere ten seconds before Justin Azevedo slid a backhander under Hershey netminder Dany Sabourin at 3:36.

The Monarchs took their first lead of the game 1:05 into the middle frame when Linden Vey’s goal off of a faceoff win against Aucoin ricocheted off Bears’ defenseman Dany Richmond and beyond Sabourin.

The Bears tied the game and quickly took the lead later in the stanza when Jacob Micflikier and then captain Boyd Kane converted for goals with a span of twenty-four seconds, but again the Monarchs responded quickly and tied the game when Jordan Nolan, son of former NHL coach Ted Nolan, tied the game at 9:13 just forty-six seconds after Kane’s caper.

With the teams entering the final frame of regulation time knotted at three, the Monarchs quickly took a 4-3 lead when Cam Paddock, with an assist from Nolan, padded his goal-scoring stats by netting his second goal of the season. However, the battling Bears once again tied the game at four when Micflikier struck on the power play at 14:23. Micflikier’s goal, his 18th of the season, marked the first time that he had scored more than a single goal in any game.

Just over a minute after Micflikier’s marker, the Bears had a chance to possibly put the game away when they were presented with another power play opportunity, but the Monarchs managed to survive that scenario and clinched the victory on a goal by Marc-Andre Cliche at 17:56.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bears Shoot Down Phantoms 1.7.12

Who knows what the cause was of the Chocolate and White sharpshooters firing wide of the target with great regularity early in the Hershey Bears’ rematch with the Adirondack Phantoms on Saturday night at Giant Center.

Perhaps it was a case of “Outdoor Classic hangover” from the previous night. Maybe it was simply a case of bad marksmanship, but whatever the reason, they eventually started hitting the bull’s-eye and attained a 5-2 win in a game that turned ugly late in the contest.

In an eerie twist, the Phantoms’ first goal of the game found the inside of the Bears’ net in the same manner as their opening strike in Fridays’ game- off a Hershey defenseman. But unlike Friday’s goal that went in off of Zach Miskovic, tonight’s tally bounced off of Miskovic’s partner Danny Richmond at 8:13.

Late in the first frame, with the Bears still scoreless on the evening, it looked like the visitors would enter the first intermission with no less than a one-goal lead when Ryan Potulny was sent to the penalty box for slashing at 18:49 by referee Ryan Hersey. However, Hershey’s terrific New England native twosome of Keith Aucoin and Chris Bourque combined for a shorthanded goal at 19:27.

The sequence started innocently enough with the Phantoms controlling the puck in the neutral zone, but then Aucoin separated a Phantom from the puck right in front of the official scorers’ table and then dished off a short pass to Bourque who took flight into their defensive zone. Bourque then proceeded to the inside of the left wing faceoff circle before buzzing a shot between the wickets of netminder Michael Leighton.

Early in the second period, the Bears took a 2-1 lead when Boyd Kane craftily deflected a Patrick McNeill point shot by Leighton at 2:29, but their lead lasted less than two minutes thanks to some brilliant work from Tyler Brown and Jason Akeson.

Brown and Akeson, after gaining entry into the Hershey zone, combined to execute a football-like crisscross pass maneuver that seemed to temporarily paralyze the home club, resulting in Brown receiving a pretty no-look pass from Akeson which he promptly put into the Hershey net at 3:57.

Seventy-two ticks of the scoreboard clock into the third period, Cullen Eddy tripped up Jacob Micflikier just inside the Phantoms’ blueline, which put the Bears’ league-leading power play unit into action, and fittingly it was Micflikier who found the back of net only six seconds into the manpower advantage to give the Bears a lead that they would not relinquish. Micflikier’s marker, his 13th of the season, broke a three-game goalless drought for the 5’8” native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, who earlier in the game confronted 6’5” Phantoms’ forward Tom Sestito after he took a run at one of his Hershey teammates.

After the Micflikier goal, defensemen Julien Brouillette and Patrick McNeill dented the armor of Leighton within a two minute span to give the Bears their eventual 5-2 margin of victory.

However, like many of the 172 previous meetings between the clubs, this one was not going to end quietly. With 3:30 left in the game a bevy of bouts broke out on the ice, with some even on the bench. Featured among the mayhem was an encounter between Hershey enforcer Joel Rechlicz and Sestito, who was on the Adirondack bench at the time of the altercation. Sestito, who minutes earlier had turned down a chance to dance with Rechlicz after being slammed into the boards by the bruising winger, was willing to engage him on this occasion from the sanctuary of the bench.

When all the dust had settled from the fracas, referee Hersey had handed out 108 penalty minutes and game misconducts to Rechlicz and Sestito, as well as Richmond and Eddy.

Notes- Bourque’s goal was his 20th of the season and marked the fifth time in his career he has reached the 20-goal plateau.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Outdoor Classic: Bears vs. Phantoms 1.6.12

Friday night’s game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Hershey Bears at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia was billed as an “Outdoor Classic”. While it may not have had the artistic beauty of a classic contest, it certainly was full of drama as the Phantoms fought back from a late third period deficit to steal a 4-3 overtime win over the Bears before an announced crowd of 45,653.

In falling to their former bitter rivals, the Bears wasted a fine outing from Braden Holtby who entered the game on a four-game winning streak. Holtby, who finished with 40 saves, was stellar throughout the contest, particularly in the second period when he stopped all 17 shots he faced.

The Bears wasted little time in jumping out to an early lead 1-0 lead when Chris Bourque converted the rebound of Keith Aucoin’s shot into his 19th goal of the season only 28 seconds into the contest. Bourque’s goal was his 125th as a Bear.
Mike Testwuide tied the game up at 12:03 by banking a shot off of the body of Zach Miskovic which gave Holtby no chance of stopping the redirection. Miskovic, who was a healthy scratch in the previous seven games, was appearing in his 13th game of the season.

The second period was scoreless until the final two minutes when Kyle Greentree, a former Phantom who scored 26 goals in his two seasons with the club, gave the Bears a 2-1 lead at 18:37. Greentree gathered in the rebound of a Cody Eakin shot and slithered a rebound shot past prone Phantoms’ netminder Michael Leighton to pick up his third goal of the season.

The Bears carried their one-goal cushion into the third period, and it held up until the 7:03 mark when Luke Pither potted his second goal of the season. Pither, after an icing call to the Bears, outdueled Bears centerman Christian Hanson on the ensuing faceoff. After the faceoff win, the Phantoms, persistent in their pursuit to tie the game, kept the puck in the Bears’ zone with Pither finishing off the sequence himself.

With the game on the line in the third period, Hershey’s usually lethal power play which is ranked first in the league entering the contest, had a chance to shine and did just that when Graham Mink, the league’s leader in power play strikes, finished off a beautiful three way sequence involving fellow forwards Bourque and Aucoin by blasting a shot past Leighton at 12:53.

However, the feisty Phantoms tied the game with 20.8 seconds left in regulation when Ben Holmstrom tallied his 10th goal of the season with Leighton on the bench in favor of an extra attacker.

The Phantoms needed less than a minute of the overtime to send the Bears to their fourth overtime setback of the season when Shane Harper fought off Bourque’s back checking effort and backhanded the biscuit by Holtby at 58 seconds.


With their multi-point efforts, Aucoin and Bourque each increased their totals in that category to 16 and 13 respectively.

The Bears roster featured just two players who were in their lineup in the last regular season AHL game played in Philadelphia on April 10, 2009: Chris Bourque and Patrick McNeill. Current Bears’ captain Boyd Kane also skated in that game, but he was captaining the Phantoms in that encounter.

Phantoms’ head coach Joe Paterson is a former Bear who played for the club in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.

Hershey scratched Matt Pope, Joel Rechlicz, D.J. King and Danny Richmond (veteran).

The Bears’ record this season for fastest goal from the start of the game is 18 seconds, set by Bourque on November 23rd against the Providence Bruins at Giant Center.

Bears’ defenseman Patrick Wellar left the playing surface at 14:44 of the first period favoring his left leg and did not return to the game.