Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bears Manage by Monarchs 2.18.12

The Hershey Bears rebounded positively from a pummeling in Providence the night before and powered by the Manchester Monarchs on Saturday night at Verizon Wireless Arena, 2-1, on the strength of a pair of power play goals from Ryan Potulny.

Braden Holtby, who earned the third star of the game award, picked up the win between the pipes for the Bears and stopped the last 33 shots he faced after allowing a goal 1:08 into the game. Holtby’s victory was his 61st as a Bear and occurred in his 101st appearance wearing the Chocolate and White.

With the win, the Bears improved to 29-15-4-4 on the season and 16-7-2-1 on the road.

Notes-Potulny’s first goal of the game at 3:16 of the second period, the Bears’ first goal since his third period strike against the WBS Penguins last Sunday at Giant Center, was the clubs first goal in 88:23 of action.

Potulny’s multi-goal game was his 8th of the season and marked the 20th game this season that the Bears have struck for at least two power play goals in a contest.

Last season the Bears scored 66 goals on 365 chances. Potulny’s second power play goal tonight was their 66th in 238 chances this current season, or 127 less opportunities.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bruins Beat Down Bears 2.17.12

Braden Holtby’s 100th career appearance in net for the Hershey Bears was a surprising and somber one for him as he relieved starting goaltender Dany Sabourin in the second period, and then allowed three goals himself as the Bears’ New England weekend got off to a rocky start when they were shut out by the Providence Bruins in Providence, 6-0.

Sabourin, the former Bruin, was solid in the opening stanza and stopped all twelve shots he faced, but early in the middle frame, allowed a soft goal off the stick of Jamie Tardif at 3:02 that started a rapid downhill spiral for him and his club.

Defenseman Kevan Miller’s goal than emanated from outside the blueline gave the Bruins a 2-0 lead at 5:58 and then a wraparound goal from Tardif spelled the end of the night for Sabourin at 14:48. Sabourin, who finished the game with 21 saves on 24 shots faced, has now required relief in three of his 21 starts this season, including twice in his last five starts.

Holtby stopped both shots he faced in finishing out the second stanza, but allowed three goals (two power play strikes) in the third period as the Bears suffered their most lopsided loss of the season.

Notes-The Bears played without captain Boyd Kane (suspension), co-league-leading scorer Keith Aucoin (recall), and enforcer Joel Rechlicz (suspension), as well as defenseman Zach Miskovic.

Prior to tonight’s disastrous second period, the Bears had outscored their opponents on the road in the second period this season, 25-12.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bears Pummel Pens 2.12.12

It was another milestone night at Giant Center on Sunday when a night after Worcester head coach Roy Sommer celebrated his 500th career win, Hershey goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 34-of-35 salvos fired at him by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to backstop his club to a 5-1 win. Holtby, in attaining his club’s 28th win of the season, also registered his 60th career win in the Chocolate and White.

After a rather lackluster 13:59 of first period play, things took a drastic change for the better for the Bears a second later when Ryan Potulny redirected Chris Bourque’s centering pass over the right shoulder of WBS netminder Brad Thiessen for his 16th goal of the season at 14:00. Bourque picked up the primary assist on the Potulny put-away and Patrick Wellar, who kept the play alive at the blueline with an impressive interception of an attempted clear by the visitors, picked up the secondary helper.

The Bears kept their foot on the accelerator and added a power play goal from Jacob Micflikier at 15:39 with assists from Bourque and Patrick McNeill to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

In their previous two outings this weekend, the Bears scored a first period power play goal, but then went without another in the subsequent two periods in each affair; however, only 2:01 into the middle frame, they erased the possibility of that same scenario occurring in a third straight game when Micflikier added a power play strike at 2:01 and gave his club a 3-0 lead to enter the third period.

Entering the final frame with the three-goal cushion, it’s likely that the Bears’ coaching staff reminded their charges that they held that same lead nine days earlier in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton only to see the baby Pens emerge with a 4-3 victory. However, rookie forward Garrett Mitchell, who had also scored the first goal of the game in the February 3rd meeting, netted his fifth goal of season and third in his last games 2:30 into the third to make it a 4-0 Hershey lead. Mitchell’s marker was aided by his fourth line mates, Andrew Carroll and D.J. King.

In the last six games, which have incidentally coincided with Keith Aucoin’s recall to the Capitals, the fourth line unit, with Carroll and Mitchell as the constants and with King and Joel Rechlicz taking turn as the third wheel, has seen their ice time increase during that period, and the unit has responded by playing their best hockey of the season.

The baby Pens avoided being shut out by the Bears for the second time this season with a little less than nine minutes remaining in the game, but Potulny put his team ahead again by four goals shortly thereafter.


Today’s meeting was the 11th of the 12 game season series with the Baby Pens with one more matchup scheduled between the clubs on April 6th in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

The Bears, who entered the game tied for second in the AHL with a couple of other clubs for most penalties killed this season (244), allowed only one power play in the game.

The Bears have scored the first goal of the game in 32 games this season, the most in the league.

Holtby’s last regulation win at Giant Center was on December 11th versus Norfolk when he stopped 22-of-25 shots in a 6-3 triumph.

Tonight’s game marked the 50th of the season for the Bears, who find themselves with 64 points in the standings. Last season, the Bears reached the 50-game plateau with 68 points and found themselves with 70 points at the same juncture in the 2009-10 season.

Sharks Snack on Bears 2.11.12

Depending upon which club you were cheering for, Saturday night’s encounter between the Worcester Sharks and Hershey Bears at Giant Center was either a memorable one or one that you’d prefer to quickly forget.

If you were the Sharks, it was a wonderful memory, as their 3-2 shootout win gave their coach Roy Sommer his 500th AHL win as an AHL bench boss. But if you were the Bears, it was one you’d likely wish to put in the back of your memory and move on from since they squandered a one-goal lead in the final two minutes of regulation time by taking an untimely penalty, which ultimately led to a game-tying power play goal.

The Sharks struck for the first goal of the game at 17:09 of the first period when Jack Combs corralled a rebound and then deposited his 10th goal of the season behind Hershey netminder Dany Sabourin. Combs’ caper was struck with the Sharks enjoying a five minute power play that was prompted by a major penalty for boarding assessed to Bears captain Boyd Kane, who also received a fighting major and a game misconduct for his devious deed.

However, the Bears battled back to tie the game before the first intermission when Chris Bourque’s wrist shot from the point on the Bears’ first power play of the night sizzled past Worcester netminder Tyson Sexsmith at 18:52. Bourque’s goal was his 23rd of the season and his first extra-man strike in 15 games.

Bourque’s goal, which tied the score at one, was last goal scored for nearly forty minutes of action until Cody Eakin gave the Bears a 2-1 lead at 17:59 of the third period when he poked a rebound by Sexsmith.

However, less than a minute after Eakin’s goal, Bears’ forward Mike Carman took a tripping penalty in the Worcester defensive zone which sent the Sharks on a power play. At that point, Sommer elected to bring Sexsmith to the bench in favor of an extra attacker which gave his club a 6-on-4 manpower advantage, and they quickly capitalized on the opportunity and took only seven seconds of time off the scoreboard clock to tie the game at two when Tim Kennedy captured his fourth goal of the year at 18:44.

After neither team was able to win the game during the remainder of regulation or the overtime session, the game went into the shootout session. In the shootout, both Sabourin and Sexsmith were rock solid through the first six rounds and stopped every salvo they saw. But in the seventh round, Worcester’s Brodie Reid found a wrinkle in Sabourin’s armor, and then Sexsmith promptly snuffed out Patrick McNeill’s attempt to extend the festivities which gave the Sharks the win.

Notes- Sommer began his professional head coaching career in the 1991-92 season with the Roanoke Valley Rebels of the ECHL where he coached former Bear Frank Bialowas.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bears Seize A Close Win in Syracuse

The Hershey Bears finally put in a full sixty minute effort on Friday night in Syracuse against the Syracuse Crunch, and the result was a 2-1 win, giving winning goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 25-of-26 Syracuse salvos, his 59th career win as a Bear.

Holtby, facing veteran NHL netminder Antero Niittymaki in the ‘Cuse crease, yielded the first goal of the game to Rick Schofield at 13:10 of the opening period to give the Crunch their only lead of the game. Schofield’s strike was assisted by Luca Caputi and former Bear Andrew Gordon, who was facing his former club for the first time in his AHL career.

Later in the frame the Bears scored their first power play goal in four games when Cody Eakin’s cannon from the left wing eluded Niittymaki and found the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Eakin’s goal was assisted by Patrick McNeill and Holtby.

There would only be one more goal in final two frames and that was struck by Hershey rookie forward Garrett Mitchell at 17:19 of the second period. Mitchell’s marker was assisted by defenseman Tomas Kundratek, the Bears’ swift skating defenseman who intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, and then took advantage of a bad Syracuse line change to lead an odd man rush into the Crunch zone that culminated with Mitchell’s goal.

Notes- Gordon, who averaged 23 goals per seasons in four campaigns with the Bears, has now failed to register a goal in 11 games since being assigned to the Crunch from the Anaheim Ducks. Gordon’s last goal in the AHL was scored against the Crunch at Giant Center last April 10, when he notched the Bears’ only goal in a 4-1 setback.

Holtby’s helper was his second of the season, tying him with his goaltending partner Dany Sabourin in that category.

Hershey’s 2-1 win, was their 27th of the season, but first by a score of 2-1.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bears Beached by the Whale 2.4.12

The Hershey Bears, who were iced on the road by the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Friday night when they squandered a three-goal third period lead in a game, were harpooned by the Connecticut Whale on Saturday night on home ice, 4-1, in a game in which they never led.

The Whale, who snapped an 11-game winless streak on Friday night, struck for the first goal of the game at 16:00 of the opening frame when Tommy Grant tucked a shot inside the left post behind Hershey netminder Dany Sabourin. Sabourin had been stellar up until the time of Grant’s goal and registered seven saves, including a pair of sparkling stops on Mats Zuccarello during the Bears’ first penalty kill of the night earlier in the stanza.

But the Bears managed to tie the game before the end of the first period when Cody Eakin earned his 8th marker of the season by deflecting a point shot from Tomas Kundratek, a former member of the Whale, by goaltender Chad Johnson.

Just past the midway point of the middle frame, the Whale blew the game wide open when AHL veterans Kris Newbury (power play) and Andre Deveaux solved Sabourin within a span of 1:22 which gave the visitors a 3-1 lead entering the third period.

The Bears had a chance to cut into Connecticut’s cushion when they had 1:18 of carryover power play to start the third period; but the power play unit failed to capitalize, and Grant added his second goal of the contest with just over six minutes left in the game to give the visitors the final margin of victory.

Notes-The Bears scratched forwards D.J. King and Matt Pope and defensemen Patrick Wellar and Phil Oreskovic (all healthy).

Hershey’s Joel Rechlicz, who was put on waivers on Friday by the Washington Capitals after a two-game recall, was in the lineup after clearing waivers.

Hershey’s Mike Carman and Kevin Marshall, both obtained in separate trades earlier this week, made their Giant Center debuts wearing the Chocolate and White.

Marshall, who suffered a facial injury in the second period when he was struck by the puck while breaking up and odd-man rush, left a puddle of blood on the ice and did not return for the rest of the game.

Among the Connecticut scratches were NHL veterans Wade Redden and Sean Avery who possess 1,574 games of NHL experience combined.