Good morning Bears Nation!
If anyone thinks that the Bears should have won the game last night in Hartford (those of you who listened, to be fair), raise your hands.
I obviously can’t see you, but I can visualize – in much the same way that I hope you can, while listening to the games – what the response is.
I did too.
That game should have been at least 3-0 Hershey heading into the third period. Instead, after Hershey fought for a 1-0 second-intermission lead, played smart hockey for 50:00 and got absolutely stellar goaltending from David Leggio, the team found themselves tied at one after 65 minutes of play.
Where did the game get away? During the parade to the penalty box midway through the third.
Ryan Bourque was thus able to deflect a shot from Oscar Lindberg past Leggio while the Hartford Wolf Pack worked a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage, and give the hosts the boost of momentum they needed to go on for the extra standings point.
Hartford was outplayed and outchanced in the game at full strength. Make no mistake about it. The opportunities that the Bears were given were Grade-A. Not that Hartford didn’t have their share, but the Bears had more. Many more. Trouble is, Dov Grumet-Morris was equally as good.
In a game of lopsided chances, you HAVE to execute, you HAVE to bear down, and you HAVE to finish. Somehow. Even if the opposing goaltender is frustrating you.
The Bears couldn’t. And last night’s game – for as entertaining as it was through 60 minutes – ended up going to the dreaded skills competition and the Wolf Pack persevered. Yes, I still call it “dreaded” even though the Bears won their previous five shootouts. Games like this don’t need to be decided like that.
Either way, the Bears got one standings point out of a 2-1 shootout loss at XL Center last night. The line of Dane Byers – Peter LeBlanc – Matt Watkins was outstanding, and not just because they worked for Hershey’s lone goal. They worked hard all night.
You can tell that Byers had a bit of a swagger to him after celebrating the goal that LeBlanc scored, his 12th of the season. The Bears captain (and former Hartford captain from 2009-2011) played the 500th game of his AHL career, in his old home rink, against the organization which selected him. Pretty neat how things come full circle.
Check out my “Roaring on the Road” feature, which includes some great stuff on Byers from his time in Hartford and his words prior to the team departing for the Connecticut capital in case you missed it. (I just realized what “ICMYI” means, which ends up in tweets every day that I read. That’s pretty sad, actually, that I just figured that out. I will NEVER write it again though.)
The standings point was nice, because it allowed the Bears to vault the Providence Bruins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for 7th place in the Eastern Conference. But, the opposite side of the coin has tarnish – it was the fourth consecutive defeat suffered by the Bears. That is a new season high, friends, and it needs to stop now for the Bears to make their March push.
Here is a link to the score sheet. Should the Bears have been given more power play chances? Yep. One, anyway – a blatant hook that David Kolomatis took while leading a neutral-zone rush in the second period – but you can’t turn back time.
Up next are the Charlotte Checkers, who were embarrassed by the Bears in their home rink back in November in a pair of games. Time to BEAR down.
Preview of this game is forthcoming.