IN-GAME UPDATE: Sound Tigers 7 at Bears 6 – FINAL/SO

The Hershey Bears and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were scheduled to meet on January 24th, but Mother Nature and the Blizzard of 2016 had other plans. It resulted in a Wednesday night edition of Bears hockey at GIANT Center, with both teams entering red hot.

The Chocolate and White entered 9-0-2-1 in their previous dozen games, and also winners of the last five. Bridgeport entered with a six game winning streak on the line.

Hershey drew first blood 2:33 in, and it came via Connor Carrick. Following a pass from Riley Barber, Carrick put a shot on goal from the point surprising Christopher Gibson. At the 8:29 mark, the Sound Tigers responded on a short side stuff attempt. Kevin Czuczman caught Justin Peters leaving the post too early and found just enough daylight.

Colin Markison tallied his first goal of the season on a penalty shot goal with 9:34 left in the period. It gave Bridgeport their first lead of the evening near the midway mark of the opening period.

But the reigning AHL player of the week, Jakub Vrana cashed in on a power play attempt to tie the score for Hershey. A tic-tac-toe passing play started by Scott Gomez was finished by Vrana at the side of the net, sending a 2-2 game into first intermission.

A goal scoring fest ensued in the second period, and it landed Christopher Gibson on the bench. It started with Bridgeport’s Bracken Kearns only 10 seconds into the second period, giving his club their second lead of the night.

The Chocolate and White quickly roared back, scoring three unanswered to grab a 5-3 advantage. Hershey’s power play remains sizzling hot, as Travis Boyd beat Gibson at 1:24 to tie the game 3-3. 2:34 later, Zach Sill entered the offensive zone on a semi-breakaway and grabbed his third goal of the campaign. Fast froward another 72 seconds, Riley Barber capitalized on a goal mount scrum to end Gibon’s night.

The final line of Christopher Gibson reads 10 stops on 15 shots through 25:10.

Kearns grabbed his second goal of the night on a shorthanded breakaway to cut Hershey’s lead to 5-4 at 6:50. Five goals combined for both teams in the first 6:50, but the Bears enter the dressing room after 40 minutes ahead 5-4.

Vrana’s second goal of the night at 1:54 of the third period extended the lead to 6-4. Bridgeport rallied back with goals by Scott Mayfield at 6:20 and the equalizer by Andrew Rowe with 1:37 left.

Overtime was forced, extending Hershey’s point streak to 13, but the five game winning streak would come to an end in the shootout. The Sound Tigers won the shootout 1-0 with the lone strike coming from Rowe, wrapping up a 7-6 decision.

Submitted by intern Matt Trust

 

GAME NIGHT: Sound Tigers at Bears – 2/10

Greetings from the GC!

This building was actually supposed to be all quiet tonight, with the exception of the changeover crew toiling about to transform the floor for the PIAA wrestling tournament coming in here tomorrow.

But alas, it’s a three-game week for the Hershey Bears, thanks to the Blizzard of 2016.  After tonight, we can finally put the memories of that historic storm away (except for the Zdeno Chara-sized snow piles that remain around the complex).  Nobody knew what would happen around the AHL in the days that followed that monster snowstorm.

But here we are, on a Wednesday night, getting set to watch two of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference face off against each other.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers come into tonight winners of six consecutive games.  The streak started on the Wednesday before the storm, a 3-2 overtime win against the St. John’s IceCaps.  Springfield, Hartford, Albany, Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton were next to go down in defeat – the most recent game coming as a big help to the Bears, Bridgeport’s 3-2 win over the division-leading Penguins at Mohegan Sun Arena.

This is Bridgeport’s longest win streak of the season.  Oddly enough, it comes directly on the heels of a six-game losing streak, one that started the last time the Bears and Sound Tigers faced off – a 5-0 Hershey win on January 3 at Webster Bank Arena.

The Sound Tigers haven’t won this many consecutive games since they won their first five games of the season.  The impressive part of this run of success is that it has come without the man who was once their leading scorer.  Winger Joe Whitney has been out with an injury, has not played since January 15, and is expected to be out long-term.  Veteran Bracken Kearns has taken the team scoring lead, and pretty much leads in all offensive categories: goals (16), assists (20), points (36), power-play goals (tied-four), plus-minus (+15) and shorthanded goals (tied-one).

Goaltender Christopher Gibson would figure to start this game, and has been a tough opponent for the Bears to figure out.  He has one win, one loss and one shootout loss, a goals-against average of 1.64 and save percentage of .934.

Justin Peters gets the start for the Bears, and he has been absolutely terrific lately.  He is 11-6-5 on the season, and is 2-1-0 against Bridgeport with a 2.84 goals-against average and .917 save percentage.

It is Hometown Heroes Night here in Chocolatetown.  Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all who serve this great nation of ours.  The flag will wave proudly at ice level tonight, held by the starting lineups of both hockey clubs.

Game notes are set here.

The pre-game is on the air at 6:20 PM, and the puck drops at 7:00 PM.  Caps Radio 24/7 will carry this game as well on the Caps Mobile App and online at CapsRadio247.com.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Senators 1 at Bears 6 – FINAL

Happy Super Bowl Sunday from GIANT Center! It was a 6-2 blowout for the Chocolate and White when they last battled the Binghamton Senators on Friday. The Bears exploded to six goals in the second period, cruising to a victory to open the weekend.

Searching for a repeat performance and a perfect three games in as many nights weekend, Jakub Vrana tallied 3:36 in. Vrana now has a goal in each game on the weekend, and today’s was yet another beauty. On an offensive rush, Vrana flicked a wicked backhander off the far goal post and in. He continues to show remarkable hands and offensive flash since his return from injury.

The Sens responded 4:57 later on their first power play of the night after an offensive boarding penalty on Chandler Stephenson. Chris Carlisle scored on a floater from the point as Cole Schneider set a screen in front of Dan Ellis.

Hershey regained the lead, also scoring on their first crack on the power play. Stephenson fed Christian Djoos on the back door for his sixth goal of the campaign at 15:21.

The biggest difference compared to Friday is Binghamton doing a better job in the neutral zone preventing breakouts and clogging passing lanes.

Another multi-power play goal game for the Bears was in store, as Riley Barber capitalized with 11:29 left in the second period. Barber redirected a shot from Chris Bourque to double Hershey’s lead to two.

Binghamton began to show frustration in the dying minutes of the period leading to penalty box parade. Barber cashed in on a 5-on-3 advantage on the rebound of a Bourque shot to make it 4-1 with 2:38 remaining.

Any inch of discipline Binghamton carried into this game evaporated in the second period. They have handed the Bears power play after power play like it’s the Oprah Winfrey Show Super Bowl special. The official game score sheet linked here is living proof:

http://theahl.com/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1015378

The wheels came dislodged in the third period and rolled to Palmyra, as the Chocolate and White tacked on two more goals, including one more power play strike to round out a 6-1 win. Scott Gomez scored his third goal as a Bear, with all coming against the B-Sens. It was a power play goal 72 seconds into the third stanza.

Nathan Walker scored even strength 3:04 later to put up six against Binghamton for the second time this weekend. The Bears finished the night 4-for-11 on the man advantage.

Hershey will enter the week with a dominating weekend sweep of three games, out scoring the opposition a total of 17-4. Perhaps shades of the magical 2009-10 campaign.

Submitted by intern Matt Trust

Super Sunday – 2/7

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!

It’s the seventh straight year for this pre-NFL Championship game here at GIANT Center, and the 16th Super Sunday Hershey Bears contest in team history.

Some of you will remember January 12, 1969.  The Green Bay Packers won the first-ever NFL title 35-10 over the Kansas City Chiefs – two of the long-time rivals in pro football.  On that same date, the two eldest AHL franchises battled, but the Rochester Americans came away with a 4-3 home-ice victory over the Bears.

Later that year, Hershey would go on to win its fourth Calder Cup title.

The Bears also won two other Calder Cups in the same year that they played on Super Sunday:

January 20, 1980 at Nova Scotia (2-2 tie)
Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA (Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19)

February 7, 2010 vs. W-B/Scranton (5-4 win)
Super Bowl XLIV at Miami Gardens, Miami, FL (New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17)

Obviously there is no correlation here, but it’s neat to look back in history, isn’t it?

Recent history has proven well for these Super Bowl tilts.  Hershey is 5-0-1-0 in its last six.  Last year, Hershey defeated the Norfolk Admirals 2-0.

All time, Hershey is 7-5-3 on Super Sunday.

Let’s hope today is as super as the last two nights have been, as the Bears have outscored their opponents 11-3 combined.

Binghamton is in today, with a lineup of 10 forwards and eight defensemen.  Other than in goal (Dan Ellis vs. the Senators today), the Bears’ front 18 are the same as last night.

Game notes are here.

Pre-game hits the air at 1:20.

GO BEARS!!! (And GO BRONCOS!!!!!!!!!)

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Phantoms 1 at Bears 5 – FINAL

Riding high in Chocolate Town. It has certainly been a productive past few weeks in the standings for the Hershey Bears, who enter Saturday’s match up against Lehigh Valley on a 10 game point streak. The Bears are 7-0-2-1 in their last 10, back to second place in the Atlantic Division, and are fresh off an impressive 6-2 blowout over Binghamton the previous night.

Hershey quickly set their sights on the Phantoms to clinch the weekend with a hopeful victory on home ice. Zach Sill had his stick slashed out of his hands 3:43 in, leading to a Bears power play. Chris Bourque pump faked a shot from the center point, quickly fed Travis Boyd on the wing, and Boyd would not miss.

Boyd beat Jason LaBarbera to the top-shelf for his 11th tally of the season at 4:10. Bourque doubled Hershey’s lead with 8:44 remaining in the opening frame. He rushed down the wing and buried a snapshot high past LaBarbera.

Into the second period, Boyd grabbed his second power play goal of the night at 9:18. Jakub Vrana slipped a pass across to Boyd, and a sprawling LaBarbera could not deny the University of Minnesota product.

Jakub Vrana added his third point of the night, and it was a dazzling goal to open the game to 4-0. On an offensive rush, Vrana released a snapshot as quick as lightning, completely fooling LaBarbera on his glove side.

Lehigh Valley got on the board with 3:51 to play before second intermission thanks to Aaron Palushaj. He turned on his jets, put a move on Justin Peters, and buried a shot from in close to cut the Phantoms’ deficit to three.

My pal Scott Stuccio may have to do some research on the last time the Hershey Bears scored back-to-back hat tricks on home ice. Hershey responded shortly after on a pretty deflection by Travis Boyd to complete the hat trick. Chandler Stephenson blasted a shot from center point, Boyd had the perfect redirection.

Even more impressive, both hat tricks were notched by rookies. It was Riley Barber on January 30th against Syracuse, and now Boyd tonight. Make it nine, second period goals by the Bears in the last two nights, as they carry a 5-1 advantage into the locker room.

Third period featured no scoring, and a 5-1 Hershey final over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Make it an 11 game point streak and an 8-0-2-1 record over the stretch.

For months, I’ve felt the Chocolate and White were a solid power play away from heavily competing on a nightly basis. Two more power play goals tonight, and it’s the difference between the “worst lead in hockey” at two goals, and a comfy four goal lead.

The point steak is also a tribute to depth scoring. Hershey has recently showed the ability to role four offensive lines, all with high scoring capabilities. Defensive play has also been remarkable of late. We are seeing the D-Men clog the middle lane of the ice, avoiding Grade “A” scoring chances against.

See you tomorrow!

Submitted by intern Matt Trust 

It Needs to Happen Again – 2/6

The Hershey Bears – Lehigh Valley Phantoms season series is already nine games deep.  The teams will square off three more times – two more here at GIANT Center.

What happened last night at Binghamton needs to happen again for the Chocolate and White in tonight’s matchup with their in-state rivals.

I’m not sure any other team (Toronto?) is going to put up a six-goal period during the remainder of this AHL season, and we certainly are not expecting the Bears to duplicate that feat.  But the Phantoms are due to be handed a game from the Bears like the Senators had last night in Binghamton.  The team knows they can score goals, especially against the Phantoms.  They did it 31 times in the nine games played so far.  Trouble is they allowed 35.  And that doesn’t sit well with the coaching staff.

It’s no surprise that the biggest key to victory tonight is the ability to buckle up defensively against the Phantoms.  Leading scorer Nick Cousins is on NHL recall.  Leading goal scorer Petr Straka is out with an injury.  But that, as we well know, doesn’t matter at all.  The Phantoms have a number of offensive weapons, including rookies Cole Bardreau and Danick Martel, who now leads the AHL rookies in goal scoring with 17.

Justin Peters gets the net tonight for the Bears.  Look for Joey Leach to draw back in on defense as Mike Moore will be the veteran scratch for the team.

Lastly, congratulations to winger Paul Carey, who scored his first career NHL goal earlier today for the Capitals in a 3-2 shootout victory over the New Jersey Devils.  The goal tied the game, forced overtime and allowed Alex Ovechkin to seal the win.  Couldn’t be any more proud of our #28.

Game notes for tonight’s Bears-Phantoms matchup are right here.  The pre-game show hits the air at 6:20.

Talk to you soon fans!  GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc

Without a Power Play, Bears Bombard B-Sens – 2/5

What a night in Binghamton.

All you need to do is look at the box score, and you will see an incredible run of offense that vaulted the Hershey Bears past the Binghamton Senators at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena.

What you might not notice without digging pretty deep are these points:

1) The Bears scored six second-period goals on seven shots.  If there happens to be a visiting team fan reading this, how would you like to have a shooting percentage of .857?  The Bears did get one more shot on goal before the end of the period and Senators goaltender Matt O’Connor mercifully stopped it.  The Bears would finish the second period with a shooting percentage of .750.  Five players had a multiple-point game (period).

2) The Bears did not have a power play in the game.  In fact, the Senators were not handed one penalty minute – not a single one.  The last time that happened, Martin Brodeur wasn’t even a Utica Devil yet.  But the Devils were the Bears’ opponent at the Memorial Auditorium on March 9, 1990, and they did not take a single penalty.

3) Dan Ellis was unreal again tonight.  His shutout streak was five periods deep and it looked like it would go six – most especially when he flat-out stole a goal from Colin Greening.  The latter was set up about 15 feet out from the top-left of Ellis’ crease when he one-timed a shot toward the right post.  Ellis got his glove in front of the shot and kept it in front of the goal line to keep Binghamton at bay, and send Greening’s eyes to the ceiling in disbelief.

4) Hershey has scored five or more goals in three straight games, and in four of its last five, to move into fourth in the league in goals per game average.

5) The Bears matched their season high for goals in a single game, all within a span of 12:40.

6) The club joined the Charlotte Checkers as the only other team to produce a six-goal period this season.

Hear all the goals right here, and hopefully it gets you primed up to join us at the GIANT Center tomorrow as the Bears host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms at 7:00 PM.

 

And courtesy of the Binghamton Senators and my colleague Grady Whittenburg, here are tonight’s highlights on video.

 

See you tomorrow everyone! GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc

 

Chandler Stephenson Returns – 2/5

Hello from Binghamton!

First, let’s begin with this morning’s roster moves:

(http://capitalstoday.monumentalnetwork.com/2016/02/05/capitals-recall-carey-and-carrick-from-hershey-re-assign-ness-and-sill)

Aaron Ness’ return was obvious once Taylor Chorney ended up in last night’s Caps lineup against the New York Islanders.  It was announced as an emergency recall when he was called up in the first place.

Zach Sill’s return, not surprisingly, seems to have disappointed a lot of Caps fans.  He has definitely been an asset in the NHL lineup, but is just one game away from having to clear waivers to return to Hershey if summoned again in the future.

Still having the need for an extra defenseman (Brooks Orpik is still out) and an extra forward (Marcus Johansson is still out), Connor Carrick and Paul Carey were recalled earlier today – well-deserved for both players.

Carrick had a heck of a month of two-way hockey in January and all of a sudden has risen to the top of the Bears’ lead in plus-minus (+18).  Head coach Troy Mann said that – coupling that official plus-minus number with the coaching staff’s post-game rankings – Carrick has definitely been playing the best hockey of his season, if not of the last two seasons.

For Carey, he started to hit a stride in point production again, posting seven points (1-6-7) in his last six games.  He impressed on his last recall and hopefully will get a shot again as the Caps head on the road starting tomorrow.

Two weeks ago at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, the Bears got a player back from a three-month injury absence: forward Jakub Vrana.  Tonight, another player makes a long-awaited return – one who hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve.

After 13 games’ worth of recuperation, Chandler Stephenson returns.

The original plan was described by Mann in a chat I had with him yesterday:

Since Sill was recalled, Stephenson did not skate after practice with assistant coach Bryan Helmer as Mann mentioned.  Instead, he took regular line rushes with Liam O’Brien and Garrett Mitchell, the trio that had so much success in last spring’s playoff run.

And tonight he plays.

Will he play tomorrow again, in the game that was originally supposed to be his first?  I would guess it all depends on tonight.  But my gut says yes, he will.

Game notes for tonight’s contest against the Binghamton Senators are set here.

In case you don’t read them before finishing this post, how about the stat involving Dan Ellis?  Two weeks ago, he stopped all 30 shots to become the first Hershey goaltender since Michal Neuvirth (3/27/09) to shut out Binghamton at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Here is that game, by the way.

Not a bad night.  47 saves for Neuvirth.  The 19th goal of the season for Chris Bourque.  (By the way, two weeks ago, Bourque scored his 19th goal of this season too.  Check it out.)

And oh yeah… only the 52nd goal of Alexandre Giroux’s season….

Talk to you at 6:25.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc

IN-GAME UPDATE: Crunch 1 at Bears 5 – FINAL

The Hershey Bears returned to GIANT Center to complete a home-and-home stretch against the Syracuse Crunch. It was a happy ride home from up north for the Chocolate and White last night to set up tonight’s match up.

Both teams scored a power play, shorthanded and 4-on-4 goal in last night’s 5-3 win for Hershey. After traveling down I-81, the Bears’ were poised for a similar outcome to conclude their weekend.

Great offensive jump for Hershey in the opening frame, with quick, unpredictable and effective breakouts from their defensive zone. In a crisp entry, Riley Barber hit the goal post on a snap shot that beat Kristers Gudlevskis.

Syracuse struck iron in the period as well. The iron of the back crossbar. After review, Andrew Yogan scored his first goal as a Syracuse Crunch at 15:57. Initial call was no goal and played continued for an additional two minutes before the chance for video review.

Luckily the Chocolate and White answered with 1:51 left in the opening frame. Riley Barber made perfect centering pass from near the goal line to Nathan Walker. Walker buried his ninth of the season to knot the contest before intermission.

The Bears gained their first lead of the night at the 14:58 mark of the middle period thanks to a relentless effort in the slot by Dustin Gazley. From between the face off circles, a Gazley backhand shot was blocked away and deflected to the goal line. Gazley raced to the loose puck and fed Carter Camper in the low slot. Camper buried his seventh goal of the season to give Hershey a lead in the later stages of the stanza.

Minutes later, Barber received his second scoring chance of the night, and unlike the previous, Barber did not miss. On a 2-on-1 rush with Scott Gomez, Gomez fed Barber, and the Miami University of Ohio product made it 3-1 Bears.

Great work ethic up the entire Hershey lineup led to the pair of late goals.

The work ethic continued into the third period, as Barber added his second goal of the night 1:01 into the period on the power play. He completed the hat trick with 25 seconds left by hitting the empty net, sending 10,964 fans home happy in a 5-1 win.

Scott Gomez added three more assists and has continued to bring a true veteran presence to the lineup.

But overall, it was a complete game effort in all aspects of the game. The goaltending in Dan Ellis was great, as he was worthy of third star honors. The penalty kill was perfect, the power play provided a dagger of a goal in the third period, and Hershey outplayed Syracuse when 5-on-5.

The Bears now have points in nine straight games with six being wins, and are now second in the Atlantic Division heading into the All-Star Break.

Rolling in Chocolate Town!

Submitted by intern Matt Trust

Be-Deviled; Bears at Crunch – 1/29

Greetings from the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, the home of the upcoming Sunday-Monday AHL All-Star Classic.  After a tough setback in overtime on Wednesday against the Albany Devils, the Bears look to move their unbeaten streak to eight games, as the club is now 4-0-2-1 in its last seven.

It’s no secret that this place has cursed the Bears.  Hershey’s last win was a strong one – a 4-1 decision – but it was over two years ago (January 24, 2014).

Syracuse is without its leading scorer Jeff Tambellini (16-12-28) and without its Bear-killer Tye McGinn (five goals).  The team has six scratches, five of which are injuries.  Sound familiar?  (Lehigh Valley, anyone?)

It’s time to put an end to the skid in this building.  The last road game before the break gets underway shortly.

Click here for tonight’s game notes and broadcast information.

For Hershey, Jakub Vrana sits out the first of a two-game suspension handed down from the AHL for a crosschecking incident on Wednesday.  Dustin Gazley is back in up front.  And with Ryan Stanton back from Washington, the Bears are one over the veteran limit, so Mike Moore will rest tonight.  Troy Mann says he should play tomorrow, meaning someone else will come out as the teams rematch at the GC.

GO BEARS!!

-Stucc