Turning the page on a book is a fairly easy task. For the Hershey Bears, their 2015-16 season book has just begun to be written – and thus, turning the page on what happened last night at Mohegan Sun Arena should be easy.
For one thing, the Bears were the better team, five-on-five – especially in the second and early third periods. Discipline was a big issue, as it often is against your arch-rivals, and that really hurt – to the tune of three power play goals against, and three of the six power plays awarded cut short by retaliation penalties.
The 7-0 setback was the largest since an 8-1 loss on December 26, 2005 – also at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
And now, it’s history.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers, led by former Bears defenseman Brent Thompson, are in the house for the second meeting out of six in the season series. Hershey went up to Webster Bank Arena just 10 days ago and was the enemy in the Sound Tigers’ annual students’ day matinee. Behind two Paul Carey tallies and 39 saves from Justin Peters, the Bears took a 4-2 win from Bridgeport – just the second home loss out of 10 for the opponent.
In fact, that was Bridgeport’s last loss. The Sound Tigers won five of their last six, and two of their last three were by shutout. Star forward Ryan Strome is down from the New York Islanders, and is absolutely deadly with speed and vision. With defenseman Adam Pelech on recall to the big club, there would be one change for Thompson to make on defense from what we saw last Wednesday. But other than that, that should be it. Joe Whitney is leading the league in scoring with 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists), while veteran Bracken Kearns and forward Alan Quine are tied for third in overall league scoring.
This will be another big test for the Bears, but I can tell you this – they are ready. Tonight is the first of five straight on home ice. And hopefully, this one will end in a regulation win (four of the Bears’ five home games have gone past 60 minutes). I honestly heard applause after the team’s morning meeting today. That should tell you that the boys are ready to go.
Expect Riley Barber back in at forward too. With Chris Brown here on a conditioning loan, there is an abundance of capable right wingers. Dustin Gazley will sit this one out, his first scratch of the season – and again, I emphasize, NOT because of poor play. It’s just bodies – an abundance thereof.
Chris Bourque will move to left wing tonight too. For only the second time this season, the three-time champion was held off of the score sheet in back-to-back games. He is at his best in keeping that string from reaching three.
Finally, Justin Peters is your starter – and is unbeaten in regulation in his last five starts (3-0-2).
You can get the game notes here. Radio pre-game gets underway at 6:20. Frank will have Madison Bowey for a live interview during warmups at ice level, and I’ll have coach Thompson along with Bears head coach Troy Mann and Chandler Stephenson as my pre-recorded conversations.
Welcome to the Den! GO BEARS!!!