Bears celebrate a second-period goal against Binghamton in Saturday’s 7-4 win. Photo courtesy JustSports Photography.
Good morning everyone!
Once again this blog seems to have been hit by some kind of bug that hasn’t allowed me to access it. Apparently I also can’t revert back to an old password, either.
Frustrating… to say the least… having to keep a saved sheet of passwords now. I used to have a great memory. But now, phone voice mail; WordPress; Facebook; Twitter; Bitly; AHL stats; and my very-own PC and laptop ALL require CHANGES to passwords.
Anyone else have this issue??? It’s enough to give me road rage.
But now I’m okay again. It’s time to get to the topic at hand – the Hershey Bears hosting the defending Eastern Conference champion Syracuse Crunch on Hersheypark Pass Night at GIANT Center.
A big crowd on a Wednesday; two teams separated by just two points in the division; one team that has been reeling lately, and another trying to stop alternating wins and losses. It all sets up for what should be a great matchup.
The two teams played completely different games in their last respective contests on Saturday. For the Bears: 11 combined goals, 78 combined shots on goal, 142 combined penalty minutes, 14 combined power plays, three third-period ejections, an NHL goaltender returning to Hershey for conditioning, a fight four seconds into the game, and a snow-forced attendance shortage.
Result? Bears 7, Binghamton Senators 4.
For the Crunch: 1 combined goal, 54 combined shots on goal, eight combined power plays, 18 combined penalty minutes.
Result? Crunch 1, Rochester Americans 0.
Maybe the Amerks had a Frozen Frontier hangover… after watching the Lake Erie Monsters tie that outdoor contest with a fraction of a second left in regulation, and then going on to win in a shootout. Maybe Syracuse just played solid defensive hockey and got strong goaltending. Maybe Rochester was really good on their penalty kill, being outchanced on power plays seven to one.
Maybe it was a combination of all three.
Crunch rookie netminder Kristers Gudlevskis posted his second clean sheet of the season in a 27-save performance. Rochester was really good on the penalty kill, wiping out all seven Syracuse chances. Syracuse kept Rochester at bay defensively. And the Amerks certainly had to be riding a high of playing in one of the AHL’s two spotlight games of 2013-14.
But said another way, Syracuse’s power play hasn’t been working. This is something that tonight, in my opinion, will be the key factor in determining the outcome of this game for the Bears. Hershey is playing MUCH better than their opponents when there is 5×5 play – there is no question about it. The Bears, despite getting two power play strikes on Saturday, had NINE total man advantages in the game. The good guys’ power play needs to get better.
But… the Hershey penalty kill has dropped from a high of 6th in the AHL to a new low of 18th, after allowing nine power play goals over the last four games. That could be just the remedy a team like Syracuse needs.
This is not the same Eastern Conference championship team, either – but, Rob Zettler, Trent Cull and Stacy Roest still have this team ready to go and it is still a dangerous team to underestimate. The club is still led by feisty veteran center Mike Angelidis, who can turn around the complexion of the game with either his physical play or a key goal. Dangerous forward Brett Connolly, who was a power-play specialist last season, is ready to turn the Crunch’s struggle on the power play around. And on any night, any one of the three Syracuse goaltenders could steal a game when needed.
Links on the current-and-former-player front- although not expected to be here tonight – Syracuse landed former Bears winger Jon DiSalvatore this week, after DiSalvatore returned from a short stint in Europe.
Forward Jamie Johnson was released from his Hershey contract, and will return to Dynamo Riga, the team for which he played prior to coming to Chocolatetown.
Congrats to Caps prospect Connor Carrick, who joined Team USA for the 2014 World Juniors.
Nate Schmidt, who scored the Bears’ first goal of this season in his only game – and who tallied his first AHL point in his first AHL game, against Syracuse – is back.
Derek (Huff?) Whitmore celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday.
And here is tonight’s game preview.
Enjoy the game… and GO BEARS!!!