FINAL: Bears 5 at Falcons 1

BOURQUE NETS 500TH AHL POINT; BARBER BURIES FIRST TWO AHL GOALS

Here is the press release highlighting the Bears’ 5-1 win over the Springfield Falcons tonight at MassMutual Center:

Veteran Chris Bourque notched points number 500 and 501 of his AHL career with a goal and an assist and rookie Riley Barber buried his first two professional goals, helping the Hershey Bears cruise to a 5-1 win over the Springfield Falcons on Saturday night at MassMutual Center.

Opening the scoring for the Bears was Carter Camper, who snapped a perfect goal-line pass from Paul Carey behind rookie goaltender Nicklas Treutle at 8:54.

Barber would tally his first AHL goal at 11:45 to give the Bears a 2-0 advantage. Bourque would hit his milestone by making the first pass to Chandler Stephenson, who in turn slipped a cross-zone feed to Barber. The rookie winger held the puck on his backhand before slipping a shot between Treutle’s pads.

Just 12 seconds later however, Springfield would send its fans to their feet after connecting on a two-on-one rush. Brendan Shinnimin faked a shot from the left circle, which drew Bears backstop Dan Ellis out of position. Shinnimin then fed Craig Cunningham, who had a slam-dunk from the top of the crease at 11:57.

The Bears would then kill off 1:23 worth of a two-man disadvantage to hold their lead at the intermission.

Connor Carrick would make it a 3-1 contest at 11:09 of the second, following up to deposit the rebound of a shot from Garrett Mitchell.

Barber’s second of the night came while the teams were skating four-on-four. Ryan Stanton started the play with a pass from the left point down low to Camper, who in turn found Barber alone in front. Barber tucked the puck behind Treutle at 14:24.

Springfield dodged a big bullet shortly afterward, when the club killed off a full two minutes of a two-man advantage.

Bourque ended the scoring with a long-range one-timer off of a feed from Aaron Ness. The puck eluded Treutle under his glove at 13:09.

Hershey finished the night 2-for-4 on the power play and was perfect on five penalty killing situations.

Ellis won his Hershey debut with 19 saves on 20 shots, while Treutle made 25 saves on 30 Bears shots.

 

NOTES: The Bears scratched D Christian Djoos, RW Caleb Herbert and D Tyler Lewington…The Falcons scratched LW Michael Bunting, LW Greg Carey, G Louis Domingue, C Tyler Gaudet, D Justin Hache, G Marek Langhamer and D Daniel New…Hershey’s last opening-night victory came on October 7, 2011 at Binghamton, a 3-2 decision…Bourque is the seventh United States-born player to record 500 AHL points and is the 89th in AHL history.

And now for some game breakdown notes.  I firmly believe that this game was won for two reasons: 1) the power play, and 2) the defensive play of ALL of the forwards.

Keeping a Springfield team (that was buzzing and circling in the offensive zone at times in the middle period) to just two shots on Dan Ellis was a tremendous feat.  Taking nothing away from the solid, poised play of the Ryan Stanton-Erik Burgdoerfer duo, the forwads were TREMENDOUS in hounding the puck, using their sticks, and even collapsing in front of Ellis when they didn’t have the puck.  When they did?  Well, let’s just say that Nicklas Treutle – who has a bright future – did not fare very well.

The Hershey power play unit of Chris Bourque, Aaron Ness, Jakub Vrana, Paul Carey and Carter Camper is going to give team fits.  They are just too good.  They pass the puck quickly, hard, and accurately and they recover from any mistakes.  They were very good at getting the puck through traffic from the points, and almost cannot be beat if they find seams in the penalty kill coverage.

The line of Jakub Vrana – Carter Camper – Riley Barber was tremedous as well… and what made me thrilled was watching them play without the puck.  They back-checked aggressively and it paid off.  Barber is now just 18 goals away from matching his last season at Miami of Ohio – and he has 75 more games to get them.

Dan Ellis had the unenviable task of not facing a shot for over 20 full minutes of play.  I counted nothing from about 4:00 into the second period through about 5:00 into the third.  He also had to face not one but two Falcons five-on-three chances.  He made a great save on a Dustin Jeffrey cross-crease pass attempt that appeared to deflect off of some part of Ryan Stanton.  He squeezed the pads and kept the puck ahead of the goal line.  He was solid.  And he had a great effort in front of him.

And last but not least – not ignoring anything else Hershey’s forwards did – comes the line of Liam O’Brien – Zach Sill – Garrett Mitchell.  Made up of three guys who can all play on the penalty kill, all hit like machines, and all forecheck the heck out of opposing defensemen – this line is one that, I will predict, is held together the longest this season.  And it will be fun to watch fans at Giant Center get out of their seats when they are on shift.

Special teams scorecard:

POWER PLAY: 2-for-4 (50%)
PENALTY KILL: 5-for-5 (100%)

THAT is what wins games too.

You can take a look at the box score here, and then see if you agree with my three stars.  They are different than the officially-chosen-by-Springfield-media ones, and that doesn’t mean that I disagree.  I just want to single out my top three:

3-Chris Bourque.  Playing hard in all zones… great setup to start the Barber first goal and a classic slapper for his power-play marker in the third.

2-Carter Camper.  Started the scoring and is setting up to be a deadly power play component.

1-Riley Barber.  Two goals in his AHL debut… enough said.

We are on our way back home as I write this.  Off day tomorrow, back at it Monday at 10:00 am with practice at Hersheypark Arena.

Thanks for listening and commenting tonight!  GO BEARS!!!

-Stucc