Good day from Portland, where the clock has just struck twelve and the wind chill just got above freezing.
I’ll never say “thank goodness this trip is early so the weather will be somewhat warmer” EVER again.
Time to get to the matter at hand – and that is shaking off a 3-2 setback last night, putting forth a great effort today while making the most of a short rest, and getting on the bus with a 2-1 record heading into the final leg of the four-game road swing to open the season.
Looking back at last night, here are a few coach’s observations made after breaking down the game video:
1. Justin Peters was good – not perfect, and not A-plus (which he will agree on), but good. From my vantage point, I thought he was fine. The power play goals that came somewhat bang-bang in the middle period would rattle any team. But he rebounded nicely and had some great help in front of him in the third period, when the Bears were trying to get back that last-minute go-ahead tally by Portland in the second. I thought he was very good in the first period.
2. Mike McKenna was not good – until the third. I have never seen a goaltender come so far out to challenge a first-shot that he takes himself almost completely out of the play. I honestly thought I saw myself out there. But had it not been for the scrambling defense and forwards protecting the top of McKenna’s crease, that game was 5-2 in favor of Hershey, at least. HOWEVER – fast-forward to the third. It was one point-blank save after another, with the last one coming against Riley Barber in the slot, and the horn would end a furious Bears rally.
3. Sean Collins, the coaches felt, had to digest so much information in so little time and go in to play a position he hasn’t played much of since college (center). Today, he will return to his natural left wing. But overall, he had a pretty decent game.
4. Paul Carey was the best forward on the ice that did not hit the score sheet, hands-down. That came from me and the coaches agreed. Fans, this is one guy you will love to watch when we get back to Giant Center next weekend. He just does not stop working and he is never out of position.
5. You cannot teach players to recover from a lost puck or (I use this term very gently, since he doesn’t make them often) recover from a mistake like Chris Bourque does. Producing at a point-per-game in his overall Hershey tenure is awesome, sure… but doing the little things without the puck is what makes really good players great.
5. Dustin Gazley stands up for his teammates – against some of the biggest players on the opposition. I like that – a lot.
Dan Ellis will go back in goal for the Bears today… and I would guess that prospect Sam Brittain gets a chance today for Tom Rowe’s Portland Pirates. There will also be a few lineup changes on head coach Troy Mann’s lineup card. Don’t expect any changes to the top line (Carey-Camper-Bourque), but the rest will look different.
Here is a link to today’s game notes. Let’s see if last year’s league leaders in scoring the game’s first goal can make it three-for-three this young season, and take it to the house.
Air time is 2:20 on the Bears Radio Network.